Finish what you start. Too many people make a decison to follow Jesus, but do not practically do so. Jesus said, “If any man will come after me let him deny himself and take up this cross daily and follow me.” (Luke 9:23) Following Jesus is more than a “decision”. It is a lifestyle. Paul was challenging his readers along the lines of the unending need for progress. Those who follow Jesus cannot stand still; They must take steps.
Step one is a passion for purity. As today the first century world was filled with immorality. The Greeks and Romans had made sexuality into a type of religion. This practice is not unknown even in Old Testament times. Consider for instance Baal worship. Today we are increasingly bombarded with value systems that run contrary to the Christian life. Modern advertising in America reveals just how far from Christian purity we have strayed. It will not do to be passive in the face of these pressures. We must be passionate about purity. We must turn away from impure images. We must avoid impure conversations. We must turn aside from impure relationships. Far from missing out on anything good, those who follow after purity will be blessed. Those who are careless and reckless about purity will experience judgement. They will also give and account to the Lord for their actions.
We are to be a loving people. Jesus made it clear that loving God and loving others was the key to true godliness. Love is defined for us in 1 Corinthians 13: 4-8. This passage should be committed to memory and used as a standard. We can also clearly see God’s love in action in the life of Jesus. In fact the aforementioned passage from Corinthians is a description of Jesus’s manner of life.
Finally this passage calls us to a “quiet life”. Jesus said, “Blessed are the meek. For they shall inherit the earth.” Meekness does not mean that we cannot be leaders. It means that we are more like a domesticated workhorse than a wild stallion. Wild stallions may be impressive or even exciting, but they are not of any use until they are broken. The value of productive work is always important to the Christian life. Even before man sinned, God gave Adam work to do. We are creative because we are made in the image of the Creator. We are more likely to live as we should when we are meaningfully employed. Even those who are retired need to stay involved in productive activities. The closing of verse twelve enjoins us to seek to be self supporting. Sometimes this is impossible, and the New Testament certainly verifies that the Church worked hard to meet the needs of the poor. However, being intentionally idle and dependent on others is not a Christian way of life.