I would like to share with you this Lord’s Day a small portion of a book I’ve been reading. The book is Gospel Conversation, by Jeremiah Burroughs. (Soli Deo Gloria Publications, 1995, pp. 16-17). This is a reprint of an older book, and we must remember how the word “conversation” was used centuries ago. Here it means conduct or behavior, and the message that Rev. Burroughs brings is that if we are truly Christians, our conduct should and must match our confession. In this section of his book, Burroughs shows how conduct in keeping with the gospel benefits other Christians:
Christians who profess the gospel must have a great care for their conversations [i.e., behavior], in respect of God and in respect of men, both unbelievers and believers.
In respect of the saints, we are to be very careful of our conversations.
1. By your conversation, you will rejoice the hearts of the saints. Oh, when those who are godly see others who profess godliness walking in a strict and hold conversation, how does it rejoice their hearts! It is the comfort of their lives.
2. Besides, they bless God for it. They not only rejoice over it, they bless God for it. When they get alone in secret they are blessing God for the gracious, holy, and convincing conversations of such and such men with whom they converse.
3. And by that means, the saints have a boldness before men. They can lift up their heads wherever they go when they know that all who make profession of religion in the places where they live walk unblameably. Upon that, godly men can hold up their heads with boldness whereas, otherwise, it makes such as are professors of religion ashamed when they see and hear of such and such who make profession of religion yet walk scandalously and loosely.
4. Then further, your holy conversations will establish the hearts of the saints; it will settle young believers. There are many who are giving up their names to Christ when they see the holy and gracious conversations of these who are ancient professors. O how they are established in the ways of godliness!
5. It will edify the saints. They will edify and grow up in holiness. They will imitate you, and you will find the graces of God not only strengthened, but increased in them by your conversations. Oh, the abundance of good that you may do! Therefore, Christians, have a care of your conversations.
By this means, you will have evidence to your souls of the truth of grace in your hearts which you cannot have if your conversations are not right. In 1 John 1:6, mark what the Apostle says, “If we say that we have fellowship with Him and walk in darkness, we lie and do not the truth.” And again, you have a notable Scripture in 1 John 3:7, “Little children, let no man deceive you; he that doeth righteousness is righteous, even as He is righteous.” It is as if he should say, “There are a company of deceivers in the world, and they think it enough to talk of righteousness. They say they believe in Jesus Christ, and it’s faith only that is required of them; and as for the other, that’s a mere legal thing for men to make conscience of duties and of their lives. This is only legal! Let them trust in Jesus Christ; Christ has done all. What, can we be saved by our lives? Has not Christ done all? Is righteousness not found in Him?
“Let no man deceive you,” said the Apostle. If there is not a “doing” righteousness, there is no righteousness in you. “He that doeth righteousness is righteous.” You have nothing to do with the righteousness of Christ as your own applied yet unto you unless you do righteousness. Therefore, have a care of your conversation that you may have evidence to your souls of the truth that there is in your hearts.
Have a care of your conversations that you may continue and increase that which is within you. Certainly those who make profession of religion and have no care of their conversations will never continue in their profession. Mark this, they may be as comets for awhile, blazing stars, but they will vanish and, within a little while, you shall find that their profession will wear away. Where there is not a godly life together with profession, profession will vanish and come to nothing. Their very common graces will be taken away from them if they do not have a care of their lives but, if they have a care of their lives, they will continue in the ways of godliness, and grow up, and increase more and more.