I can still recall as a child my mother giving me a stern look and uttering those two words that stuck fear in my heart “Behave yourself.” I knew exactly what she meant.
“Behave yourself” meant that I wasn’t acting the way she had taught me. Either my words, rowdiness, or attitude was not in keeping with the way she expected me to be.
“Behave yourself” served as both a correction and warning. I understood. There needed to be a change. And quickly. If not, there would be some consequences.
Our word of the week is “behave.”
Among the various exhortations the apostle Paul issued to his “son in the faith,” Timothy, he wrote, “I hope to come to you soon, but I am writing these things to you so that, if I delay, you may know how one ought to behave in the household of God, which is the church of the living God, a pillar and buttress of truth. (1 Tim. 3:15, ESV)
The Greek word translated behave literally means “to turn upside down, to turn back.” It is used 22 times in the epistles and 8 times by Peter in his letters. The old King James version translated the word “conversation.” Newer versions often translate it “conduct.”
When one becomes a Christian his life is turned around and upside down, compared to his former way of living. The Bible says, “Behave like obedient children. Don’t let your lives be controlled by your desires, as they used to be.” (1 Pet 3:14, CEV)
Behavior has to do with my demeanor, deportment, and manner of life. It means to act in a certain manner. Or to acquit. As “he acquitted himself well under extreme pressure.”
Peter exhorted, “Beloved, I urge you as aliens and strangers to abstain from fleshly lusts which wage war against the soul. Keep your behavior excellent among the Gentiles, so that in the thing in which they slander you as evildoers, they may because of your good deeds, as they observe them, glorify God in the day of visitation.” (1 Pet 2:12, NASU)
Our safe passage in our journey to eternity depends our behavior. In the previous two passages, Christians are reminded to conduct themselves appropriately as members of God’s family, His church.
We often remind our children that their behavior is a reflection, for good or bad, upon the family name. Those who wear the name “Christian” ought to conduct themselves in a certain way.
Peter says our behavior should be honorable among unbelievers and evil doers. Honorable means “beautiful by reason of heart and life; and hence praiseworthy; morally good; noble. It carries the idea of beauty, comeliness; admirable.” We must be the “beautiful people” of the world in righteous conduct.
The Christian’s conduct should be holy. The Bible says, “But like the One who called you, be holy yourselves also in all your behavior; because it is written, “YOU SHALL BE HOLY, FOR I AM HOLY.” (1 Pet 1:15, NASU)
In the world that has gone mad with lust and license, Christians are called upon to behave themselves. Paul exhorted, “Let us behave properly as in the day, not in carousing and drunkenness, not in sexual promiscuity and sensuality, not in strife and jealousy. But put on the Lord Jesus Christ, and make no provision for the flesh in regard to its lusts. (Rom. 13:13-14)
Just like my mother used to warn, I wonder if God doesn’t look down on his children sometimes and simply say, “Behave yourself.”
–Ken Weliever, The Preacherman