Healthy Christians Grow; (part 2)
4:30am brought a jittery conviction today to get busy. I had this eagerness like fever to start my day. But being a pastor I am forced to evaluate: is this feeling an authentic zeal for the great commission; or do I just love to work? I reasoned my way to a resolve; God put man in the garden to work, it’s not really “work” if you do what you love, and I love Jesus. But this morning he wasn’t put first. Work was.
Why is it so hard to stop, wait, listen, and pray—as the normal Christian does? It seems as though peace is waiting to be had by those willing to take it. Like the sound waves of phone calls, text messages, software updates, and routine noise, God’s voice is floating above our heads. All we have to do is look up and pull it down. But we are too busy.
In light of this realization I compelled myself to look for my bible and grab a short read. When I couldn’t find it I almost reasoned, “guess I can’t read my bible this morning. I’ll do some work.” But amusingly, the Lord changed my thoughts. Then I said, “I know some scripture. I’ll just sit down and quote it.” What a refreshing moment to recite and remember that Jesus is my daily bread.
Subsequent to last week’s post, here is the imposing problem: busyness is the disease of spiritual health; we don’t need to be told; our stress, concern, anxiety, dread, unease, suffering, suspense, fidgets, fuss, worrisome, and disquiet speak loud enough. The problem is to stop the loudness and remove the traffic. Then re-fill the new found space with growth opportunity.
Few people realize their level of spiritual aliveness. They have failed to see the murkiness that has crept into their vision and clouded their discernment. As a result we experience the emotions above. Our relief lies only in the unmerited and available grace given through Christ Jesus. But we must evaluate first and acknowledge our need. Then take steps toward growth.
A galaxy of God-breathed information is collecting dust on many American shelves. But we would be wise to take his word and let it bring transformation. This wisdom will be evidenced in our speech, character, knowledge of the bible, and of course the mending of relationships.
The point is that healthy Christians grow. As we previously covered, “If we live years without experiencing developments in our faith, character, speech, and knowledge, we are missing something.”
This 2-part series has deliberately taken us to this moment–to view this passage of scripture and be reminded of the intentional forward progression that Christians make. Let’s approach this passage with two questions in mind:
1. What truths are in the text?
2. What disciplines can I practice?
As an example on how to study in this way, I have highlighted my truths in red. Talking to Timothy, Paul praises the Macedonians for their working faith whose anxiety is the craving of spiritual fervorness. We should emulate such Christians.
But read slowly, carefully, thoughtfully, prayerfully, humbly, contextually, practically, and repetitively.
2 Corinthians 8:1-11 ESV
1 And now, brothers and sisters, we want you to know about the grace that God has given the Macedonian churches. 2 In the midst of a very severe trial, their overflowing joy and their extreme poverty welled up in rich generosity. (The Christian’s response to “severe trials and extreme poverty” is a spill over of joy and giving) 3 “For they gave according to their means, as I can testify, and beyond their means, of their own accord.” (The Christian should give abundantly and willfully) 4 “begging us earnestly for the favor of taking part in the relief of the saints— ” (These Christians literally begged to participate in ministry. Serving the church should be a desired and favorable opportunity) 5 “And this, not as we expected, but they gave themselves first to the Lord and then by the will of God to us.” (A sinner gives himself first to Lord. Then he gives himself to the authority of the church. Such spiritual submission is the will of God.) 6 So we urged Titus, just as he had earlier made a beginning, to bring also to completion this act of grace on your part. 7 But as you excel in everything—in faith, in speech, in knowledge, in all earnestness, and in our love for you—see that you excel in this act of grace also.” (In addition to one’s overflowing joy, rich generosity, unceasing giving, and eagerness for ministry, the Christian unquestionably excels in his or her faith, speech, and knowledge.) 8 I am not commanding you, but I want to test the sincerity of your love by comparing it with the earnestness of others. 9 For you know the grace of our Lord Jesus Christ, that though he was rich, yet for your sake he became poor, so that you through his poverty might become rich. 10 “And in this matter I give my judgment: this benefits you, who a year ago started not only to do this work but also to desire to do it.” (A Christian’s faith works, not just for the sake of doing it or from obligation, but because he or she eagerly desires to do it) 11 Now finish the work, so that your eager willingness to do it may be matched by your completion of it, according to your means. (The work spoken of in this text is not the work humanity gives themselves; it’s the work given by God)
Evaluate the measure of your faith. Are you finding incremental changes in speech, character, and knowledge of the bible? If not, a desire issue has either fiddled it’s way in, or you’ve been competing against time. Reexamine every hour of your day. Is every hour doing useful work? Can any moment be handled with more proficiency? Create space and start a bible reading plan. Never be afraid to push out the urgent to make room for the important. You. Will. Grow.
This post is also available at MultiplyingMen.com