Last week I said if people are going to say “I ♥ That Church!” it has to be a ♥able church. A ♥able church has a ♥able reputation that compromises what Luke captured about the very first Church—internal unity, sincere piety, supernatural results, and practical help.
Once a church has this kind of reputation, how is it sustained?
First, let me tell you how it’s NOT sustained: A church’s ♥able reputation isn’t sustained by that church focusing on it’s ♥able reputation.
A ♥able reputation must flow from the constant development of godly character. Otherwise, we substitute what sounds good with what is actually sound, and we substitute what looks good with what is actually good.
That’s what the Pharisees did—they were more concerned about how their religion looked to others, and not how it aligned with God’s heart. In fact, Jesus told two stories about people that thought they were “in” with God because of their reputation, but God actually says to them, “I don’t know who you are” (see Matthew 7:21-23; 25:1-12).
Matthew Henry reminded us, “Men may go to hell with a good reputation!”
But D.L. Moody got the order right when he said, “If I take care of my character, my reputation will take care of itself.”
I believe the first Church shows us three components of a maturing godly character.
- Our source must be pure. The Christians devoted themselves to the apostles’ teaching. In other words, they grew with sound doctrine, not with things that sounded like doctrine (2 Timothy 4:3; Acts 17:11).
- Our daily disciplines must be productive. The Christians saw “church” as an every day thing. They didn’t view studying the Scriptures, prayer, fellowship, and other maturing activities a merely something to be checked off their To Do list.
- Our accountability must be in our fellowship. The Greek word for fellowship (koinonia) means an active involvement with the “one anothers” in the Church. What’s especially important is maintaining the highest levels of accountability with each other so that the growth of godly character can continue (see especially Hebrews 10:24-25; James 5:16).
“When wealth is lost, nothing is lost. When health is lost, something is lost. When character is lost, everything is lost.” —Billy Graham
My church’s ♥able reputation will be sustained as I am committed to growing in godly character.
So… are you committed to that continual growth?