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The Glorious Pursuit - Gary Thomas

Building Relationships / Dr. Gary Chapman
The Truth Network Radio
May 22, 2021 1:30 am

The Glorious Pursuit - Gary Thomas

Building Relationships / Dr. Gary Chapman

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May 22, 2021 1:30 am

How do you become the person you were created to be? Author and speaker, Gary Thomas calls that question the “glorious pursuit.” The early church had spiritual practices that we’ve gotten away from in today’s modern world. Learn the power of these practices on this edition of Building Relationships with Dr. Gary Chapman.      

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Equal housing lender not licensed in Alaska, Hawaii, Georgia, Massachusetts, North Dakota, South Dakota and Utah become who God created you to be today on Building Relationships with Dr. Gary Chapman view practicing the virtues like a bodybuilder today can develop biceps and triceps and shoulders with various exercises. You lift humility you with gentleness little patient you lift courage, and it shapes our souls just like bodybuilding shapes the physical body. Welcome to building-related Gary time and author of any art, the five leveling today.

The author of sacred marriage, and many other Gary Thomas talks about pursuing classic Christian virtue Lori.

That's the title of Gary Thomas's classic book that is updated for the new generation of the glorious pursuit becoming who God created us to find out more about five love so we have two theories on the program today.

Gary, lift number one we did not choose our names and secondly God created you to be courteous. Alright, so glad well I want you to meet Gary I you know Gary Thomas, Gary, but I want our listeners to meet Gary he is a writer and speaker. He serves on the teaching team at Second Baptist Church in Houston is the author of 20 books that together of sold some 2 million copies of been translated into more than a dozen languages include when to walk away sacred marriage. The sacred search the gold medallion award winner, authentic faith, and many others.

He holds a BA in English literature from Western Washington University in MA and systematic theology from Regent College and an honorary Dr. of Divinity from Western seminary. He and his wife, Lisa been married for 35 years. They have three adult children and one granddaughter, Gary. Welcome to Building Relationships great to talk with you, Gary. I'm just afraid working to confuse people when I'm doing a sacred marriage conference.

People come up to me and say your book changed my life.

I like this is great. I can't tell you how much "The 5 Love Languages" up and help so I can't find out what you should have the same experience with Gary Smalley up the movie you know and told Gary one day after they come to million Sam at the book admitting that he wanted to sign in us notice it was your book and that's what I used to tell them you know I'm not Gary Smalley. I said now don't do that. I just said as he said you have and so nearly as many of my books as I have sound of the file is in heaven may also be he's done his part so we got yet on the Gary and Grace well for those who don't know your work over the last 20 years. This gives little summary of who you are what what God is not in your life.

Well, I've been a writer for most of my adult life, which I'm very grateful to got it worked out because I literally have no other skills that anybody would pay me for not very good with numbers or being over people, or mechanics, or music, and so I'm more grateful than anyone could know that I've just been able to study and write, and done a number of books on spiritual formation. Several on on marriage and mound the teaching team here in Houston, Texas with Dr. Ed Young is a senior pastor.

Have you been there. Gary just over a decade 11 okay yeah longer than lower than I remembered. Okay so let's talk about this book.

It was the glorious pursuit of what is it mean to you and when you wrote it originally. And now this revised edition what is it mean to you today.

How to use what you see.

This is important. I grew up with a view of Christianity that was based on what you don't do that I could quantify holiness by I don't do more things and somebody else that doesn't know Jesus doesn't do you know the joke is I don't drink smoke or chew or go out with girls who do, but we've added a lot of other things onto that and what I was thrilled with in Dallas Willard was the original general editor of this bringing in ancient Christian practices in the modern times and I was assigned this about practicing the virtues and what I loved about it. It was a version of Christianity. This based not on what I don't do. But on who I'm supposed to become centered on the person of Jesus. So it was a positive inspiring vision of spiritual growth that was captivating for me. It was life-changing for me just studying the virtues of Jesus.

Learning how to put them into motion and I was excited going through that than to share that with others. It's it's very practical is been used by recovery groups as are trying to stop doing something that's harmful whether it's substance abuse, or online issues or what not focusing then, but it's important not to just focus on what you don't want to do. Call of Christ is who we are to become ill.

As you said the spiritual practices that you talk about in this book started early in church history. How do you think we drifted away from these practices and in daily life and in the emphasis on these in the church. One of my most cherished spiritual practices is reading from the great Christian Classics everyday. Peeps are one of the great Christian Classics Gary you know this how modern publishing works, except perhaps for your books.

Most books today have a shelf life somewhere between yogurt and milk yeah they they don't last that long. And so when books have been passed down not just to the decades, but through the centuries and there. These recognize classics there something when you get this timeless view of what faith is all about it when I read to the classics. Whether it's a four century reading Augustine or the 12th century in your reading Francis of Assisi or the 18th century in your reading William Law.

One thing that they do hold in common is that the ancients valued holiness. While today's church tends to value salvation are questions. Are you saved and the ancients rubs are you growing in holiness it.

I don't like to put those two questions against each other, I think, are you saved is an important question, but because they valued holiness. They had an entirely different focus. We are so concerned and again good motives. I'm not against this but were so concerned about getting people into our churches that we haven't paid as much attention about what kind of people are coming out of our churches, and that's what spiritual formation is all about. How do we grow to become a different kind of people and the need for this to be updated to come out again hit me when my wife and I were on vacation for a few days in Colorado. I just done a Focus on the Family program and my wife likes to build on those trips and said yell there's not some hot Springs a couple hours out of Colorado Springs. She was let's spend a couple days there, getting out of the Houston heat is always a fun thing to do and so it's a wonderful place is that these hot springs about 8 to 10 different pools that you can go into my wife and I were in this one pull. I'm guessing it was a bachelorette party. I'm not sure but I don't is like 8 to 10 young women that were there.

I'd say in their mid-30s and they all started talking about the amount of money they spent, and the research and the doctors were helping them to keep looking young and one of them even said all the Kardashians are doing this now. It was really kind of astonishing so my wife my wife I Mrs. Gary, can we go to another Bible, absolutely. So we went to another pull in on her way out. My wife was asking me does it bother you that I'm just not into that. And I remember telling is reading William Law at the time he is one of my favorite writers and I'm paraphrasing them here, but he was saying that we should earnestly pursue humility, patience, generosity, compassion, courage and kindness. Here's the key with the same intensity that those in the world pursue wealth same worldly achievements and physical beauty were all on this pursuit. And most people today and and sadly a lot of Christians at that those four things that we want. We want wealth we want to reach a retirement number we want a certain level of fame. Whatever our focus is we want certain worldly achievements and we want to keep looking pretty good and we don't look any different to the world as we have the same values and William losses those who have met Christ who have the opportunity be calm like Christ and help people reconcile themselves to Christ goes, we should live with entirely different values but we just lost that notion of this pursuit because it doesn't happen automatically. It's not the case that you've been a Christian for 20 years and you have 20 years of maturity. We've met plenty of Christians open Christmas for 20 years with about 20 days worth of maturity that we don't talk about some of these virtues more in-depth but just briefly here in our opening session this list some of those converters you alluded to some of them just a moment ago. I think this is our listener get a picture.

What were talking about one of the key virtues as humility. Ancients called humility.

The queen of the virtues that I'd say Scripture back set up in emphasis their surrender detachment, love, chastity, generosity, vigilance, patients, discernment, thankfulness, gentleness is one that surprises people sometimes fortitude, obedience and penitence. I'm not presenting that as an exhaustive list. Some aren't mentioned at all because yoga but can only be so long today but but those are certainly key components as your starting to look at what this means it. It's enough to keep us busy for quite some time. Our first segment you told us some of the virtues that you cover in this book. The idea here is not to give us more rules to follow or try to measure up right right it's really more about freedom. One of things that John Wesley said he was considered somewhat controversial because he use the phrase Christian perfectionism. He spent his whole career trying to redefine perfection, then I think he probably regretted at the time, but what he said that was inspiring to me when I could take away from that, because with a lot of the classics I don't agree with everything they say. But I still find things inspire me. He said I just decided if God can set me free. What level of greed and my willing to live with what level of pride is okay. How much lust is acceptable for a Christian if a little less this bad should every aspect of lust be bad and I it was a vision for me goes, I determined I don't want anger to determine how I treat people with whom I disagree. I don't want lust to determine how I look at people of the opposite gender. I don't want greed to determine my relationship with money. I want it to be influenced by the presence of God in spirit, the Holy Spirit within me and so we could say it is not rules.

I think it's more inspiring we can our glorious pursuit might be to become a great investor like Warren Buffett, a great golfer like Tiger Woods a great artist like Rembrandt and NM. Those are noble pursuits. But the Bible presents for us an option to become like Jesus Christ and I think of all the pursuits we can have. That's the one that inspires me.

I think when you look at classic writers. Francis of Assisi is such a great example because is collections of writings are really small and not that much read because they're not that deep. It was his life that shaped history and he really wanted to live like Jesus.

So people don't so much read Francis of Assisi as remember Francis of Assisi because they see this as a man who made others want to be more like Christ. What's the difference Gary between practicing these virtues to become more like Christ and end and just the idea of this trying to be a better person or trying to be a nicer person. It's a great question and I think the difference is this the virtues as a classical Christian spiritual formation, discipline. It's not about being a nicer person. It's about becoming like Christ.

This is centered on a real historical person revealed to us in Scripture who lives in us today through the Holy Spirit.

So there's this dynamic quality.

It's not just trying to imitate Jesus. It's letting the spirit within us reveal to us who Jesus is through Scripture applying it to our life so that it is God transforming us and so it's not culturally conditioned because in some ages, different virtues are lifted up or put out of context it in the first century, when Paul was writing. Humility was looked at as a weakness by the Greeks. It wasn't something that would be considered that you would want to emulate.

And yet the Bible three times, once in the Old Testament twice in the new says God opposes the proud but gives grace to the humble.

That was a culturally offensive message in its day, but it was beloved by the church that God wants humble people and that's the only way to come to Christ as a humble person in need. So what I love about the virtues is they they remove us from our cultural conditioning because our culture says this is the virtue that matters.

Sometimes the Bible might agree with the culture, but I'm not a prisoner in my culture, I'm focused on a real historical person living today through his Holy Spirit helping me to become who Jesus was 2000 years ago.

I like that that is not simply self effort to develop these things. But it's allowing the Holy Spirit to work in us right, absolutely. Now I do think there is a certain amount of effort and that's where Gary, I may just be swimming against the tide, because I think spiritual formation does take a lot of averages that were not on her own pulses. I struggle with everything with the spirit that worked so powerfully within me and a key passage for me is Peter, who said in second Peter 15 and I want to remind the listeners. This is the apostle Peter speaking. This is not Gary Thomas because they might think it's heresy.

If I was just saying it but Peter says make every effort to add to your faith, and he goes on, and list these virtues and then says, for if you possess these qualities in increasing measure so your growing they will keep you from being ineffective and unproductive in your knowledge of our Lord Jesus Christ, but whoever does not have them is nearsighted and blind for adding that they had been cleansed from their past sins. So while there is no effort to obtain salvation. Peter says we need to make every effort for that salvation to be worked out. Not in the sense of going to heaven, but in being shaped into a person like Christ.

And I think today because we mix sanctification that experiential holiness with justification how we get into heaven people are wary of talking about effort, but I don't believe we could become like Christ.

I don't believe we naturally grow in humility or gentleness or courage without human effort in cooperation with the Spirit's work in our life. If you're all the spirit that everybody would be like Jesus right yeah right that's what that's a perfect exam and it's really work what Paul captures in Colossians 129 says that's why I work and struggle so hard depending on Christ mighty power that works within me and some people only talk about the mighty power and they don't talk about working so hard. Some people only talk about working so hard without God's mighty power.

Paul talked about both you wrote the original edition of this book 20 years ago and now you've come out with this addition.

What is changed in 20 years if I'm talking about, 20, 21, the virtue that I'm trying to live with this year that is so challenging to me has a familiar name, but it might be at a surprising application. It's the virtue of love and love is a virtue. It's not sentimental is not like Valentine's Day. It speaks of how Jesus was for everyone. Even when we were against him. While we were yet sinners. The Bible tells us Christ died for us, which tells me is a virtue. I have to be for everyone. I can't be against anyone. Now I might be against what they teach. I might be against what they're trying to do. I might have to say that is wrong. But even as I oppose them. My desire should be for their destruction. My desire is should be that they become a brother or sister in Christ. So rather than having one less enemy.

I want one more brother or sister in Christ, they could see the same grace is been shown to me and so even when I debate or disagree or even must oppose it's done with this heart I am for you as God is for me, as God is for you. We disagree. I'm not going to pretend the disagreement isn't serious but II can't be against you and and that that changes the way I think the other virtue that is just so lacking today. Frankly, is gentleness. Dallas Willard had a great question one time when he was asked why are Christians so mean and I think people see like us today and he says I think it's because we focus more on being right than on acting like Christ did, that the two don't have to be against each other. But what he saying is it's not just the words of Christ.

We need the manner of Christ in the manner of Christ decidedly was gentle Jesus rarely use virtues to describe himself, which is a little frustrating when author Chris trying to write a book on the importance of the virtues, Paul mentions him but but Jesus, but what Jesus does mention the virtues is Matthew 1129 when he says I am gentle and humble in heart, he usually used images on the light of the world. I'm on the door of the good Shepherd.

But this was so significant to his being that he didn't want the early church to have to extrapolate what is that mean that you're the light of the world. He says what you want to know why am. As I am gentle and humble in heart, and so as Christians we should be known as people who are humble and gentle and I don't know.

That's the first two words of people describe Christians with today think you're right know, no question about it.

We live in a very very divisive society right now and it's almost like if they disagree with me. I will do everything I can to destroy them and humiliate them and put them down and ostracize them.

Do you think that if a significant number of Christians could begin to practice these virtues that it would impact and overcome the divisiveness that we see in our culture. I did, I do from the bottom of my heart. I believe that that is true. I'm old enough to know. Remember when Tiger Woods was his first year on tour as a golfer and what amazed most of us, all fans of the time was how it was, the professional golfers who were in awe of Tiger because they knew how hard the game is and to see a guy master it like that.

It was like I can't believe it. And I think the reason we can be so judgmental is it were not involved in the glory were not trying to become like Christ. We have one area where we think were holy and NIC, but I have friends. I'm from the Pacific Northwest.

They basically think if your recycling that determines whether you're a good person or not you can be living with three different people you commit.

But as long as your recycling and you don't drive a car very often. So they find certain ways were they decide this is what it means to be a good person, but if you're trying to practice the virtues of Christ to be gentle and courageous to be patient to be humble to be loving all of these things is like you start to realize I've got so much to go. I can't judge you then and I think it's it were like if your baseball analogy. Maybe somebody a guy that's great at batting, but he can't field or a picture that can't hit and so we can laugh at people, but if you try to play the entire game.

If you try to practice all the virtues you realize what you're not, because nobody naturally has all the virtues of Christ down. Not even close. And so I think by being engaged in the glorious pursuit seen how difficult it is out without Christ how hopeless it is, it humbles me it makes me less judgmental.

Okay yeah you really working on your anger, your really working on your greed. Are you really working on your fear. You really work on your patience. But here the five things I'm really working on and so it's like I loved John Fisher he was not my favorite Christian folk singers from the 70s and 80s were you just said you know what I'm just one beggar telling another beggar where to find bread and I think when you're on pursuit of Christ. That's the humility that lead you to and it changes the way you talk to and with other people you alluded to this earlier, but emphasis on salvation conversion to Christ, which obviously is. This is the starting point and we've got to come into the family before ever going to be like Christ.

But that's one thing but spiritual growth is another thing when you talk about the virtues and building into our lives. The characteristics of Christ.

Does this interface with another word that we often use and that is discipleship is that one and the same or there's two different things. Well I believe that growing in the virtues is an aspect of discipleship. It's not the full description of discipleship it's it's a subset I mean, I think we discipleship you gotta shape your mind, you've got a grow in prayer on surrendering to the work of the Spirit in your life. But I do think practicing the virtues is is part of that so I think it's crucial but I I'm glad you brought it up because this is not although some Christian traditions may presented it this way I'm not presenting the virtues as a pathway to salvation practicing the virtues isn't about getting into heaven.

It's really more about making my wife's life not feel like hell if I can use that phrase because when you think about it it's my impatience or anger won't send me to hell, but it will make my families much more frustrated. It gets our loved ones that pay the price when we don't grow in Christ. And so we we act like I've got salvation taken care of. So it really doesn't matter. That's a very selfish thing to do. Okay, I'm fine. And so I don't worry about how my unwashed laundry is stinking up life for my loved ones.

My coworkers does it work under me over me next to me all of that. Thanks for joining us for Building Relationships with Dr. Gary Chapman. I guess today's Gary Thomas, author of the glorious pursuit becoming who God created us to be combined out more at Gary as I'm listening to you. Gary Thomas I'm thinking about all of the disciplines that you're talking about and wondering where what place can I go, what closet can I go in, and perfect all of these and it strikes me that these cannot ultimately be really they can't sink down deeply into my life and soul outside of community. I've got to be in relation with other people in order to test them out or test my own heart is a true that's exactly right click I love to read the classics but the classics aren't Scripture and some of them I would fundamentally disagree with particularly the desert fathers that would go out to the desert. Now there was a purpose there involved in contemplation and they would talk about spiritual warfare, but I do believe there is an aspect of spiritual growth that requires community it. That's what led me to write my book sacred marriage which I maintained the time was more about spiritual formation than marriage how God uses marriage to shape your soul and it hit me because one time I looked at my wife as when she was a young mom.

We had a toddler and a baby in every list is been in that situation knows how exhausting that is particularly on the woman.

I mean I'm trying to help as much as I can and I just think about this woman is a saint she's taking care. She's giving all of herself and and I realized these monks and nuns that kinda wrote for monks and nuns. I thought the thought of her going away for a weekend by yourself to meditate and pray and have salt that would be an absolute vacation out of all of the demands and busyness that she was facing. I said look, if you want your patients tested don't go to monastery for weekend didn't at the time a minivan with 3 Kids Dr. with your spouse and try not to get into arguments yell in the first hour that things like patience and in managing anger.

I never faced anger like I did until I became a parent because your love makes you care so much and so you realize the stakes and so anger was a whole different issue. After I became a parent, I never faced fear like I did until I became a parent because suddenly it's not just me.

I was fearful my kids.

I never saw my own selfishness until I got married and could see it in the mirror of how I would treat my wife and so I do think marriage and parenting and friendship can reveal to us those character qualities where were just lacking and that's one thing I do disagree with one tradition of Christian spirituality where we become holier by going out to the desert. I think we need to withdraw, but I think we need to come back together if you want to see the girl take place very early on in their program. You talk a little bit about this book. The legalism thing we keep even this striving to grow these virtues from being legalistic or feeling guilty yeah I love it when Peter says I mean it's what proves to me Scripture is so inspired, because I can get so much out of one passage I mean again as a fan of the Christian Classics an entire book of the Christian Classics isn't worth one chapter of Paul one chapter. Peter Peter says in second Peter want to talk about it before making every effort at your faith. He says if you possess these qualities in increasing measure. It's always telling me it's not about perfection, it's about progress, MI gentler today than I was five years ago, MI acting more humbly today than I was five years and that sounds absurd to people but but but maybe if I can just take a sideways show how you can tell you're going to humility. I'll never become humble, but I can practice humility, not a legalistic way. But here's what I gave to my kids. I said most most people. Your eyes are going to the parties I go the proud person is going into the party thinking is my hair. Okay, will they notice my shoes will I be ready will people be inviting me in so all you will be the life of the party and I said if you do that you'll never be fully satisfied because it's a lust just as much as money or food or sexual lust. It's never fully satisfied. I go because you'll never be noticed enough or they notice your shoes but not your heart, but the humble person said the humble person goes in the party in their prayers Lord, who can I notice who can I encourage is there someone I can bring, and it seems on the outside.

How can I be your servant to bring the men so that there noticed and respected and they need that party feeling better about themselves.

I said you'll always leave the party satisfied because there's always someone who needs to be noticed two needs to be encouraged needs to be brought in so I can choose to practice humility regardless of what's going on in my heart I can just say I'm I want to be there, not for myself but for others, and here's a think this is also wise kinda swim upstream with popular thought. I do believe inside out. Change is the foundation of Christianity without the Holy Spirit regenerating us remaking us being born again. It's all wasted effort. On the other hand, I do think brain science and Scripture says there's outside in. As I practice humility. I become more humble as I practice gentleness I become more gentle because of neural plasticity. When you create a habit and an action. It literally shapes your brain so that that is becomes more and more your default position. So it's in increasing measure such as legalistic oh I blew at that time luck if you if you tested my humility by how I drive in Houston traffic.

There are more failures than successes, but there are some days where I wake up and pray Lord I want to be a humble driver to I want to let people and I want to be a blessing on the road and you know what 100% of the time I might arrive at work 37 seconds later, but I have a much different heart. I have much more joy and I say why don't I do this every day. You say in the book I'm quoting here practicing the virtues as a highway to experiencing Jesus. Explain what you mean by that because it routes us in who Jesus is and we see how far we are.

I've got a couple friends who are PGA golfers there on the tour and they condescend to send it to take me out for around one time and when you play next to them and see how they hit it, and how they can pot I made our our scoring was. I was trying to be my score thereto scores combined right and and I think when you try to practice the virtues of Jesus you realize were not humble, we can practice humility but were not the way that Jesus gave up heaven to take on/M and become a man and and we try to practice love and we see that Jesus loved those that were left out and he loved those even as they were crucifying him.

It's just you just realize okay. I can never be like that, but it gives you an and worship of Jesus because I guess once you start to play the game. If I could use that analogy you see how good Jesus is that that you'll never get there, but it gives you a new a new and wonder at who Jesus is not how society says he should be or how people say why think Jesus is. This way you're looking at is verse 12. The Bible tells me he's this way and it's the most perfect human who's ever lived. Someone worthy of worship, worthy of surrender worthy of giving our lives to hell is a pursuing a virtues in our culture the idea been polluted through the years and putdown.

I think virtues as become and I live in one sense, might my publisher maybe want me to find a different word because it's been so looked at through this pietistic lens of being killjoy and people that don't laugh, and the whole image throughout the book I try to present it's really about getting our lives back when I talked to somebody where their anger is an under control. I know the relationships are a mess. I know they're there. They're pushing their spouse away. I know they're putting their job at risk. I know their kids aren't able to relate to a management say is this how you want to live. Other guys come in and they're dealing with lust and it really shrinks the relationships they don't know what it means to have a sister in Christ they don't know what it means. Have mothers in Christ are daughters in Christ. They just shrunk there and it is this really the only way you want to relate to women or or people where they can't get enough money there materialistic, the greedy and your saint have you ever known the joy of giving. Even when it hurts, and the blessing of seeing others. I believe the virtues of the way that we get our life back.

It's who God created us to be in the world will never satisfy. As I heard an amazing testimony from a former porn star. Believe it or not said that she thought she would be happy when she had hundreds of thousands of fans and during that time she was a drug addict losing almost all her money on drugs and suicidal and she became a Christian and a mom and is this beautiful stages. I finally realized why getting everything I thought would make me happy. Didn't she said having hundreds of thousands of fans can't satisfy me because I'm not created to be praised, created to give praise, just a brilliant statement of Christian life that that you can try to be praised, but you won't be for its while these rock stars that have tens of thousands of people all but worshiping them then have to go do drugs as soon as the last guitar is silent because it can't satisfy us. This is what satisfies supplies is life in Christ. And so the virtues really point us to that as getting our life back a fulfilling life. The life that God wants us to live so similar. Let me listen today.

Who's a Christian, but I believe in God, go to church but there about where they were 10 years ago in their walk with God. Why is it so important.

Those who know Christ really be seeking to grow in these virtues I would you say at the end of your life. I would go back to the William Locke quote that I gave that we should earnestly pursue the virtues the same way the world pursues wealth, fame, worldly achievements and physical beauty because there will be a day that we die were seen some of the great stalwarts of the faith that have passed on to see within the last 12 months or so, and if you youth your greatest pursuit is wealth, fame, worldly achievements and physical beauty those of the four things you can't bring with you. You can, but when it's a character, and how do you want people to remember you with the funeral what they'll usually do is that's when the go to the virtues she was so kind. She always had a listening. He was so humble God use them so powerfully and yet he was always putting the emphasis on others and trying to lift others up. I think that's how we want to be remembered, but even more important, the virtues aren't about people appreciating me it's hopefully it will point them to Jesus. The Dell say you know what the there's a different presence is what it Jesus said seek first the kingdom God and his righteousness. Jesus said we should be all about the kingdom and growing in righteousness, so that we witness to another kingdom there's another work going on beyond politics, beyond culture, beyond human fame. Let people see different people is why go back.

We were so focused on getting people into church if we would focus a little more what kind of people coming out of church. We might actually get more people in, but right now they don't see a different because were not seeking first his righteousness were seeking wealth, worldly achievement, fame and physical beauty. We began our last session let me ask you this because I think a lot of Christians have this idea. If I am obedient and seeking to build these virtues in my life become like Christ. It is this is God that obligated to bless me know. Here's the thing. Usually they will it's like the virtues are like the Proverbs are not commandments their wise statements that you do well to base your life on but they're not absolute commandments and so usually the prophet say if you do this, you're, you're, you're likely to prosper, you're likely to grow but there is a guarantee look at somebody like Jeremiah who lived a virtuous life and yet was put in a cistern was was taken prisoner was often threatened, so we don't know what times were in an and I think it's important to say that we look at the virtues as points of wisdom literature and not his commandments because the same Jesus who said turn the other cheek, told his disciples to buy a sword. The same Jesus who said he was gentle in Matthew 1129 forcefully chased the moneychangers out of the temple using a whip in John 215. In Matthew 522 Jesus is calling someone a fool put you in danger. The fires of hell. In Matthew 2317 Jesus called the Pharisees and scribes blind fool. So we have to realize that that Jesus applied the virtues where they were supposed to be applied.

It's sort of like defensive driving most often in a car, you should apply a break to avoid an accident sometimes applying the gas and driving around the danger is the best thing and so that's where I love the virtues being rooted in a person not in some abstract stoic list of these are abstract characteristics, it's Jesus who really interacted as a real person in history with real people and seeing how we apply them.

They should guide our life but they are more along the lines of Proverbs and they are commandments that make sense you write that virtues actually build on one another. Do we have to master one and then go to the next will know how to zip normally flesh out no, but the more I grow in one virtue, the easier it is to add on to others. Patience and gentleness are's are so key with with each other when you grow in patients is easily to be gentle with other people on if anger is running your life and so I think when you me to recognize that they they build on each of Jess's vices tend to build on each other, dear.

You know when we've done you talk to couples at one of the great dangers in a marriage is lying because usually one sin leads to another send and then you lie to cover it up.

And that leads to another sin since tend to pile up there were rarely orphans that usually have a lot of children, even grandchildren with her virtues are that in a positive sense when I'm aspiring to be humble.

There aren't really many vices I could commit if I'm humble I'm knocking to steal from you. I would rather go hungry and take something that's yours if I'm humble not to gossip against you.

I want to encourage and build you up, not tear you down just so that I can look witty and so practicing one virtue helps us to practice all virtues, just as committing one sin puts us in danger of committing many sins want to virtues you talk about is chastity and you indicated.

I think it's pretty obvious that the church is not talking as much about this today what you think that's true because it just goes against our cultural view.

It's like you can be a Christian but not when it comes to sexual ethics and and it's what's been distressing to me is that even Christians are attacking other Christians. With this, that if we just love and serve and do things like social justice. That's what everything is all about. And yet we know in the book of Revelation when Jesus was talking to the church and Tyra Tyra and this church got everything right but she said this is a quote I know your deeds, your love and faith, your service and perseverance that church excelled in everything that some contemporaries tell us to do, love, service, devotion to Jesus, but she had one glaring omission. She was tolerant about sexual immorality and Jesus held that against her instead of giving you time to repent, but you're unwilling. And so there's going to be suffering that follow. So Jesus thought it was significant enough that it's not enough just to be loving and to tolerate that and and Paul, I think tells us why.

First Thessalonians 4 when he says it's God's will that you should be sanctified. You should avoid sexual immorality in your psyche. Key that each of you should learn to try your body so that no one should wrong or take advantage of a brother or sister as the creator of our bodies as the designer sexuality.

Jesus knows how much hurt and pain is experienced when sex is taken outside of the context of marriage and so it's about protecting others and work were tempted to abuse others and and so are it's something our culture just flat-out disagrees with. But again, this is why we have to look at Jesus. In the words of Scripture that say this matters Jesus talked about it. Paul talked about it. We need to surrender trade. It's God's best plan for successful flourishing life. We come to the end of our program.

What would you say to someone who's outside looking in.

They may have gone the church earlier with five drifted away. What's on your heart for that person. My heart is soft for those who were led to pray a prayer of salvation and then left on their own. They are said you been forgiven. You're on your way to heaven, which is great to know about your future. But it's no help in the presence we've lost this notion of God can give you victory over the greed, the velocity anger the impatience, the arrogance that makes your life miserable and affects so many relationships, but the Bible has a plan. Talked about making every effort. Paul promises that the Holy Spirit will work so powerfully within us. We have the character of Jesus as a model, and the Holy Spirit as a real active agent within us to transform us where you can experience a level of Christianity you've never known before. Being a Christian isn't just about what happens when you die, it's about how you love what you value and what you do while you are alive, and that's with the virtues point us to experiencing the reality of the salvation that we hold dear. Looking forward to heaven, but being able to experience a little bit of that heaven here on earth, how would you see the listener today. Using your book to help them move down this road of growing in virtues, it's been released after been up to 20 years I've seen many people use it in different ways, some singles, just for their own spiritual growth. A lot of recovery groups. I didn't anticipate that when they would focus on 12 steps and what they wanted to avoid the teachers would bring in, but this is what we can practice it's been used in a lot of Sunday schools or is sermon series where you can say hey let's talk about the kind of people that we want to become where we can celebrate who Jesus was and realize that we can become more and more like that so I I do hope it it brings a resurrection to the church of this ancient practice. It's not unique to me. I didn't think this up. I'm just more of a reporter of what it means to practice the virtues, the Christian Classics and ancient you practicing the virtues like a bodybuilder today can develop biceps and triceps and shoulders with various exercises and the ancients said that's how we build our souls you you lift humility you with gentleness you look patient you lived courage and it shapes our souls just like bodybuilding shapes the physical body. II believe we've lost emphasis with that and I believe it will make the church richer individual lives richer and relationships richer. If we can get back to it. Thanks for being with us today. Thanks for your effort to really release this book as it were.

I do hope that a whole new generation will see the value of what were talking about. So thanks for being with us and keep up the good work.

Thank you very much and encouraging our with Gary Thomas today. Find out more about what we've been talking about that resource.

Five love the glorious pursuit of becoming who God created us to be five love Gary next week to questions and comments from listeners on our made vision of dear Gary, that's all your favorite times of the month is responding to questions over the 18664 Gary call right now 186624 well big thank you to awaken Janice Todd for their work behind you for joining Building Relationships with Dr. Gary Chapman radio ministry at Moody Bible and

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