It is interesting to follow out the places, both in the Old Testament and the New, where the word “behaviour” occurs. A glance at them cannot fail to be of profit to us.
First, valiant behaviour is enjoined by Joab in his battle for David against Ammon (see 1 Chr. 19:13), whilst David himself behaved wisely, as we read four times over in 1 Samuel 18 and again in Psalm 101, when he determined to act wisely in his own house; and again in Psalm 131 he behaved himself as a child weaned of his mother. Whether on the field of battle, or in private life, or in the distractions of home life, such behaviour is comely.
Then, in later days, Paul behaved himself “unblameably” and “not disorderly” among the young believers at Thessalonica, giving a fine expression of the charity of 1 Corinthians 13, which doth not behave itself unseemly; while he exhorts the bishops in 1 Timothy 3 to be of good behaviour, as also the aged women in Titus 3 to behave as becometh holiness—all most commendable.
But let us pause, with more than passing interest, at the exhortation he gives to his devoted, zealous and most lovable son in the faith, Timothy, “That thou mayest know how thou oughtest to behave thyself in the house of God, which is the church of the living God, the pillar and ground of the truth” (see 1 Timothy 3:15).
Mark the words “oughtest to behave.” Now, allowing that Timothy had a special place in the blessed service of the Lord, one that, of course, none of us can actually follow, inasmuch as he was deputed by the apostle to administer in the church at Ephesus the maintenance of the truth, in view of false teachings, and also the appointment of bishops and deacons, yet there is much in this exhortation by Paul to Timothy that can be and should be applicable to ourselves as Christians and servants (however feeble) of our Lord and Saviour.
Right behaviour in the House of God is incumbent on us all. The House of God today is composed of living stones, not of bricks and mortar where a passing “service” may be held. Neither Jerusalem nor “this mountain,” neither cathedral nor chapel is of the very least consequence in the worship of the Father. The question is much larger than one of a building, whether its architecture be imposing or plain. The House of God is spiritual and universal. How ought we to behave ourselves in such a house? Has the reader ever seriously asked himself how he ought to do so?
I once called on a very earnest and greatly used evangelist and asked him if he had ever done so. He honestly replied that he had never noticed the verse! He had been so fully absorbed in doing good to man that he had overlooked one of the most important statements as to the behaviour of the Christian. Not on the gospel battlefield, nor in the home, nor in individual conduct, but in the House of God, and therefore in relation to God and to those who compose His House. But this neglect may be common and is surely reprehensible.
Should not behaviour in the House of God be our first consideration as His children? Do not the claims of that sacred House, nay, of the Father and the Son, take precedence of all else? Surely they do
Mary’s worship and deep appreciation of her Lord did not make her a worse servant than Martha; nor, we may be certain, less careful of “the poor” than those who deprecated the “waste” of her ointment.
It may safely be affirmed that the best worshipper is the truest worker. Let us set the glory of God first and show right behaviour in His House; and then, by His grate, we will seek the blessing of those who are strangers to its “fatness.”
Obligation there is—“how thou oughtest to behave” indicates our responsibility in the matter. That House is the home of love indeed, but it is the place of obedience and filial duty as well.