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The Commandments of Christ

Putting them into practice

Older brothers and sisters are familiar with The Commandments of Christ, compiled by Bro. Robert Roberts. But what about our children? Have we ever made a concerted effort to acquaint them with The Commandments of Christ and talk about how to put the commandments into practice? Families can do this together, and Sunday School and CYC are good places to address this life goal.

“You are my friends if you do what I command you” – Jesus, John 15:14.

Years ago, I tackled this with our CYC. This article shares a few of the practical things we considered. The activities relate to specific commandments as Bro. Roberts organized them in his little book.

I – Concerning God

4 – Be imitators of God. Be like Him in His kindness to the undeserving. (Matt 5:45-48; Eph 5:1).

“You have heard that it was said, ‘You shall love your neighbor and hate your enemy.’ But I say to you, Love your enemies and pray for those who persecute you, so that you may be sons of your Father who is in heaven. For he makes His sun rise on the evil and on the good, and sends rain on the just and on the unjust. For if you love those who love you, what reward do you have? Do not even the tax collectors do the same? And if you greet only your brothers, what more are you doing than others? Do not even the Gentiles do the same? You therefore must be perfect, as your heavenly Father is perfect (Matt 5:43-48).
“Therefore be imitators of God, as beloved children” (Eph 5:1).

Activity 1 Every day God makes the sun rise and the rain fall on believers and unbelievers alike. Every single man, woman, and child on earth lives and breathes because God sustains his or her life. Faith has nothing to do with receiving these benefits from God.

  1. Be imitators of God. Start by having each person write down two acts of kindness that they can do for other people on a regular basis, regardless of whether the people are faithful to God. Then compile a group list.
  2. Select at least one act of kindness from the list and talk about ways to implement it in daily life. How would you give this benefit to others?
  3. Would you ever stop giving this benefit to others? Explain.

Activity 2Have everyone write down the kindest thing that they have personally seen someone do for someone else. Be specific. Then share these with each other and talk about how we can do similar things. What does it take to make “kind things” a regular part of what we do?

6 – Have faith in God. Cast your care upon Him. He knows your need and will provide. (Mark 11:22; Matt 6:25; Phil 4:6; 1 Pet 5:7).

“And Jesus answered them, ‘Have faith in God’ ”(Mark 11:22).
“Therefore I tell you, do not be anxious about your life, what you will eat or what you will drink, nor about your body, what you will put on. Is not life more than food, and the body more than clothing?” (Matt 6:25).
“Do not be anxious about anything, but in everything by prayer and supplication with thanksgiving let your requests be made known to God” (Phil 4:6).
“(Cast) all your anxieties on him, because he cares for you” (1 Pet 5:7).

Activity 3People pray for all kinds of things and believe that they receive them. Here are five examples. Think about each example and talk about whether it illustrates the kind of faith in God that Christ commands us to have? One way to answer this question is to identify the perceived need that underlies each prayer. Then decide whether you think the need is a Godly one.

  1. A middle-aged couple wins the lottery. They become instant millionaires. They are interviewed on television and say that this is an answer to prayer.
  2. A faith healer preaches that God does not want anyone to be sick. She lays her hands on a feverish man and prays over him. The man gets well.
  3. A Christadelphian couple constantly bad-mouth other people behind their backs. They realize how ungodly this is and begin to pray that they can overcome the habit. With steady praying they begin to improve their behavior.
  4. A Christadelphian ecclesia encounters opposition from a local church for conducting a public Bible seminar. Visitors stop coming to the seminar. Earnest prayers are offered that God will remove this obstacle to preaching, and a seminar is successfully carried out in a different location.
  5. With the cost of living going up all the time, a hard-working mother prays for a pay raise. She gets a promotion and it becomes easier to provide for her family.

Activity 4Think of things that the Bible teaches us to pray for. Have each person take a couple minutes to write down as many as they can. Then compile a group prayer list. Select at least one item from the list and talk about how God answers this prayer. Here are two to get the list started:

“Pray for the peace of Jerusalem” (Psa122:6).
“Forgive us our debts, as we forgive our debtors” (Matt 6:12).

If anyone has a Bible app, use it to find other things to add to the prayer list. E.g., look at how the word “pray” is used in the Bible. And don’t end the activity without praying together about the things on your list.

II – Concerning Christ

15 – Abide in him. Do not let him slip from your memory and affections. (John 15:7; Hebrews 2:1)

“If you abide in me, and my words abide in you, ask whatever you wish, and it will be done for you” (John 15:7).
“Therefore we must pay much closer attention to what we have heard, lest we drift away from it:” (Heb 2:1).

Activity 5“Abide in me.” What does it mean to be in Christ?

  1. Rom 6:3-4; Gal 3:27, and Col 2:12-13 identify how we enter Christ. What’s the key? Is this just an initiation ceremony, or is there more to it? Explain.
  2. When we join any organization, we are in the organization. This gives us access to the rights and privileges of the organization. It is like this in Christ and better. Many New Testament passages speak of the privileges – or, more accurately, the blessings – of being in Christ. What blessings are identified in these passages: Rom 5:1-2; Rom 8:37-39; 1 Cor 1:2; 1 Cor 12:12; 1 Cor 15:22; Gal 3:26-29; Col 2:13; 2 Tim 2:10? Can we ever lose these blessings?
  3. “Abide in Christ.” What does this mean to you? What’s the key? How does abiding in Christ affect the lives that we live? Have everyone write down at least two ways that belonging to Christ changes a person’s life. Share these and talk about the practical implications.

Activity 6 If we are in Christ, the New Testament makes it clear that Christ must also be in us. Read the following passages and pick out the key words and ideas that are associated with “Christ in us”: Rom 8:10; Rom 13:14; 2 Cor 13:5-6; Gal 1:15-16; Gal 2:20; Eph 3:17ff; Col 3:1-4ff; 2 Tim 2:19. Talk about what these mean in practical terms.

VI – Concerning Your Actions

58 – Labor not to be rich: having food and raiment, be content. (1 Tim 6:8; John 6:27; Matt 6:19).

“But if we have food and clothing, with these we will be content” (1 Tim 6:8).
“Do not work for the food that perishes, but for the food that endures to eternal life, which the Son of Man will give to you. For on him God the Father has set his seal‘ (John 6:27).
“Do not lay up for yourselves treasures on earth, where moth and rust destroy and where thieves break in and steal” (Matt 6:19).

Activity 7Do we really believe this?

  1. Have each person list what they think are the basic necessities of life. Have them number their lists, with #1 being most important, etc. Then compile a group list and talk about why each thing on the list is considered necessary. Does everyone agree?
  2. Why are most of us not content to have just food and raiment? Have each person write down two things that influence them to want more than the basic necessities of life. Compile a group list, and then talk about ways to keep the influences from taking control of our lives.
  3. There are brothers and sisters in the world who have lost everything: for example, Christadelphians are caught in the crossfire of war or are fleeing persecution because of their faith. They may not even have adequate food and raiment. Ask each person to write down how they think they would cope with this situation if they found themselves in it. What would help them cope best? Share thoughts.
  4. Have everyone write a personal definition of contentment. Share the definitions.

71 – Pay your debts: owe no man anything, but to love one another. (Rom 13:7-8).

“Pay to all what is owed to them: taxes to whom taxes are owed, revenue to whom revenue is owed, respect to whom respect is owed, honor to whom honor is owed. Owe no one anything, except to love each other, for the one who loves another has fulfilled the law” (Rom 13:7-8).

Activity 8Where do you draw the line?

  1. Have each person make two lists: List 1 – What do you consider to be acceptable debt? I.e., list things that it’s all right to owe payments on. Why do you think these debts are acceptable? List 2 – What do you consider to be unacceptable debt. I.e., list things to pay for, in full, or else get along without. Why do you think incurring debt on these things is unacceptable?
  2. Discuss the two lists. Identify a basis for deciding what is acceptable debt and what is not. What spiritual factors need to be taken into account?
  3. According to Rom 13:7-8, what debts do we always owe? To whom do we owe them? Brainstorm practical ways to pay these debts in everyday life.

VII – Concerning Your Thoughts and Speech

79 – Swear not at all: let your communication be yea, yea, and nay, nay. (Matt 5:34; Jas 5:12).

“But I say to you, ‘Do not take an oath at all, either by heaven, for it is the throne of God’ ”(Matt 5:34).
“But above all, my brothers, do not swear, either by heaven or by earth or by any other oath, but let your ‘yes’ be yes and your ‘no’ be no, so that you may not fall under condemnation” (Jas 5:12).

Activity 9Truth is now treated as relative in the 21st century: “My truth is what’s right for me; your truth is what’s right for you. The two don’t have to be the same.”

  1. Have everyone write down one reason why more and more people are thinking this way. Then talk about the reasons.
  2. Write three words on the board: integrity, accountability, relationships. Have everyone choose one of the words and write down how they think it is affected by the “my-truth, your-truth” mindset. Talk about this.
  3. If you have not already discussed the question, do so now: What place does God have in this mindset?
  4. Where do you stand on this issue?

Activity 10Do you mean what you say? Can you be trusted? Allow a few minutes for everyone to think about these questions and then talk about the answers.

  1. What happens to your personal integrity when you repeatedly make promises and don’t keep them?
  2. What’s missing in a person’s character when he or she does not do the things they say they will do?
  3. What does Jesus want from us in this regard? Why?

Send me an email if you would like a digital copy of this activity. It can also be printed directly from the electronic edition of this month’s Tidings magazine, available at tidings.org/magazines.   

Jim Harper, (Meriden, CT)

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