58 Therefore, my dear brothers and sisters, stand firm. Let nothing move you. Always give yourselves fully to the work of the Lord, because you know that your labor in the Lord is not in vain. (1 Corinthians 15:58 CSB)
Today’s business environment requires that we give our all. That we put in, typically, more and more hours to meet or try to exceed expectations if we are wanting to grow our careers. I watch the demand for more increase year over year just to keep pace.
In contrast our Heavenly Father wants us to be with him and to do good works, our work in His name. We should strive to do everything to honor God. In this way our labor for Him is never in vain as often our labor toward success can be.
Thus we should not labor in vein, striving only to fill our bank accounts or to simply get the next promotion or bonus. When all of these things are done with the significant effort focused on fulfilling our roles in honor of Christ…then we labor not for human acceptance but for greater significance.
13 You, my brothers and sisters, were called to be free. But do not use your freedom to indulge the flesh[a]; rather, serve one another humbly in love. (Galatians 5:13 CSB)
We experience much freedom, especially in America. We go about our lives mostly unhindered, living as we please and doing as we please.
In our faith life there is much freedom as well. However, while we are called to be free, we must do so humbly.
What does it mean to live humbly and in love.
Well, we should not take our present circumstances for granted. If God has graced you with much, help others. If he has graced you with little, you still have much love to give. We are to live to help one another in love too. Not just being good friends and neighbors, but even reaching out to those we do not know who are in need.
Many are those who just want the word or touch from another. Too many live lives in solitude and loneliness.
We are called to be free, live humbly and love others.
19 if you are convinced that you are a guide for the blind, a light for those who are in the dark, 20 an instructor of the foolish, a teacher of little children, because you have in the law the embodiment of knowledge and truth— 21 you, then, who teach others, do you not teach yourself? (Romans 2:19-21a CSB)
The best teachers must be good learners. We, who impart knowledge or wisdom in any way must not be blind to its teaching. We must learn through our teaching and not just be a clanging bell or resounding gong.
If we do not walk in our own teaching how can we expect others to follow our example. And if our example is rife with hypocrisy then who will listen to us.
In this we must, as scripture notes, be an embodiment of knowledge and truth. This does not mean that we are perfect in all we do, but that we recognize our weakness and failure and do not continue in those wrongs. We correct our course based upon the wisdom imparted to us and then embody that knowledge.
Each of us are teachers in our own way. We must see to it that we are living what we wish to pass on.
8 But do not forget this one thing, dear friends: With the Lord a day is like a thousand years, and a thousand years are like a day. 9 The Lord is not slow in keeping his promise, as some understand slowness. Instead he is patient with you, not wanting anyone to perish, but everyone to come to repentance. (2 Peter 3:8-9 CSB)
Nothing seems to happen fast enough these days. Working in an industry where every day brings innovations to speed up delivery I see this very clearly. We have more information at our fingertips than ever before. Almost instantaneously we can get information on any topic.
In fact this really just means that we get our cat videos faster and without any buffering…
Luckily, God is patient with us as we are typically not with others. He is slow to anger and wants nothing more than to have a personal, intimate relationship with each of us.
This is good, because many of us are slow to respond. Whether that is to his invitation to us or in us letting go of our sinful nature. We always want just a moment longer. Though we cannot give each other a moment longer.
I witness stress building in each life around me due to the ever increasing demands of our jobs and lives. Isn’t it refreshing that God wants us to take time. Take time to be with him, but not take time to come to him. To turn to him and away from our brokenness, this he wants immediately. And yet he is patient to wait on us…
7 But we have this treasure in jars of clay to show that this all-surpassing power is from God and not from us. (2 Corinthians 4:7 CSB)
We are but jars of clay that have two special attributes; the spark of life and Christ in us.
This treasure, this all-surpassing power, provides us with more than we can fathom. It is not only a great mystery but also a manifest presence.
We are made uniquely, each one, and should not let anyone or anything rob us of this surpassing joy.
Building each day upon another the good Christ wants for us and discarding the baggage others or circumstances may heap on us from the day before.
These Jars of Clay … are loved.
3 and provide for those who grieve in Zion—
to bestow on them a crown of beauty
instead of ashes,
the oil of joy
instead of mourning,
and a garment of praise
instead of a spirit of despair.
They will be called oaks of righteousness,
a planting of the Lord
for the display of his splendor. (Isaiah 61:3 CSB0
You may know nothing about trees, I know very little. However, I do know that Oaks are large strong trees. They are well known for their size and strength.
I do not feel like an Oak. I am a big, strong man, bigger than most. However, it is rare I feel the strength of this scripture. But God provides us the ability to stand like oaks in the midtst of difficulty. Instead of ashes he provides the oil of joy. Instead of morning the garment of praise. It is hard to dispare when we are praising God. The two are incompatible.
When we face difficult times with God at our side, we can stand like Oaks and in doing so display His splendor. Thus, to have a different view of life we must see it through a different lense. One of His love and not our dispare. The more we keep our eyes on God and praise all he is doing in our lives, the more joy we can get out of life.
12 Though one may be overpowered,
two can defend themselves.
A cord of three strands is not quickly broken. (Ecclesiastes 4:12 CSB)
We were not put on this planet to be alone. We were meant to come together, make friends and help one another.
However, in our hectic lives we can seem to make time for everything under the sun except for our friends. Soon enough we find that we are quite alone, even if we have a family.
When we foster friendships and make time for one another bonds are forged and we always have someone to call on. Friends make the good times better and hard times easier. There is no honor in going it alone.
Friends make us stronger, provide insight, give us outlet, keep us accountable and really, just make us better.
God built us this way and notes in scripture “a cord of three strands is not quickly broken.”