“You have inside you the capacity to invest your mental, emotional, and spiritual gifts in a way that glorifies God, impacts the world, and satisfies your own soul. I believe that-and I want you to believe it, too.” ~ David Jeremiah
I reviewed this book earlier this week, and although it doesn’t specifically apply to our month’s theme, Laity, the author does have some important things to say about what he calls “engaging with others.” To be successful as laypeople we must be able to get along and work well with one another. In any congregation there are differences: differences in background, education, ability, understanding and more. Sometimes these differences lead to conflict. When that happens, Gregory Spencer points to the 4th Chapter of Ephesians for a guide to “reframing” our outlook. Maybe you’ll find it helpful.
“An extended biblical passage that addresses “engaging with others” is Ephesians 4. Paul reminds his readers of what makes for a strong community. Overall we maintain unity by living peacefully (3) and fulfilling our various roles and callings (4-13). We do this by putting off the old self and putting on the new self (22-34, some obvious reframing here), feeding certain character qualities–humility, gentleness, patience, bearing with one another in love(2) industriousness (28), compassion and forgiveness(32) –and by starving sensual indulgence (17-19), extended anger, bitterness, brawling, slander and malice(31). I’m particularly taken with the admonitions to speak the truth in love (15,25) and to talk for the sake of building others up (29).”
Those speak foolishly who ascribe their anger or their impatience to such as offend them or to tribulation. Tribulation does not make people impatient, but proves that they are impatient. So everyone may learn from tribulation how his heart is constituted.
I’m going off theme here, because I found this quote and I really like it. These days we might be inclined to substitute “stress” for tribulation. How do you behave under stress? If you become angry or impatient, doesn’t that mean the person you’re really angry with is God? Doesn’t it show a lack of obedience and submission to His will? Isn’t it sin? Our sin, not somebody else’s?
My problem with stress is different. I’m likely to worry, fret and sometimes become so overwhelmed I have trouble making a decision or moving forward at all. This is sin also, just a different kind. It’s boils down to lack of trust in God’s goodness.
Maybe you’re reaction is different from either of these. You may have a different sinful stress behavior, or you may be mature enough to let go and let God in times of suffering. For most of us, it’s something with which we have trouble, something we need to work on. We will experience trouble and tribulation. The Bible tells us that is certain. We can grow through these times, or we can keep repeating the behaviors that get us nowhere. Behavior that hurts others and hurts us. Luther’s right. Our reactions are our own and we need to take responsibility for them, and learn to do better. They reveal where we are spiritually. Next time you’re stressed, take a look in the mirror. Do you like what you see?
“What matters in the end is the legacy that you leave behind. It is neither your wealth nor your various accomplishments that are the deciding factors but the seeds of love that you sowed. People will remember you for your acts of kindness, compassion, benevolence, piety, sympathy and the thoughtfulness that you had in your heart for others.”
― Latika Teotia
I recently had my first grandchild. It makes a person think even more about the legacy you want to leave for your family. The most important of these is a deep devotion to God… piety. I want my children and grandchildren to think back when I am on the other side of eternity and remember my love for God and my love for them. I want them to remember me singing songs of praise, reading Bible stories with them and applying what we read to how we are to live our lives. I want them to know that being kind, compassionate, caring, and thoughtful aren’t just things we SHOULD do…they are things we do because God shows those same things to us. All we have to do is love God and love our neighbors no matter how hard it may be. For all God has done to redeem us, it’s the best thing we can do to show our gratitude.
God loves you and so do I,
photo courtesy of howtoadult.com
Quote courtesy of latikateotia.com
― Dietrich Bonhoeffer,
“Earth has nothing more tender than a woman’s heart when it is the abode of piety.”
“How can we embrace poverty as a way to God when everyone around us wants to become rich? Poverty has many forms. We have to ask ourselves: ‘What is my poverty?’ Is it lack of money, lack of emotional stability, lack of a loving partner, lack of security, lack of safety, lack of self-confidence? Each human being has a place of poverty. That’s the place where God wants to dwell! ‘How blessed are the poor,’ Jesus says (Matthew 5:3). This means that our blessing is hidden in our poverty.
We are so inclined to cover up our poverty and ignore it that we often miss the opportunity to discover God, who dwells in it. Let’s dare to see our poverty as the land where our treasure is hidden.”
― Henri J.M. Nouwen,