Sunday, March 27, 2011

Last Time I Checked Griping and Complaining Were Not Spiritual Gifts or Fruits of the Spirit

When my daughter was around 2 ½ and my niece was about 2 years old, I took a picture that is forever engrained in my mind. My mom is holding Erin who is doing this mouth wide-open cry, and Lori is holding Madeleine who has obviously been crying but has stopped to watch Erin. The story behind the picture? There was no reason for Erin to be crying, but Madeleine had been crying and got picked up, so Erin started. I remember I could always get Erin to stop the big-mouth-wide-open cry by saying “candy.” She stops instantly and says, “I want candy.” Yes, the big-mouth-wide-open cry may have produced tears, but it wasn’t real. She normally used this cry in order to get what she wanted. She was focused on herself, and what two years old isn’t? Unfortunately though, there are a lot of adults and Christians who are so focused on themselves that they don’t truly see those around them. When we are focused on what is happening to us, we take our EYES off of Jesus. When we are focused on what we are going through, we stop serving and living the life to which God has called us. When we take our eyes off of Christ, we start making anything and everything about “US.” How vain and prideful is that! Reminds me of that Carly Simon song, “You’re So Vain.”

This week in our small group we were reading the Bible to apply it to our lives, and the verses I selected teaches that as Christians, we are to have our focus on living a life that emulates our Creator. It challenges us to get beyond our comfort zone, to go beyond our circle of friends and family and to give God the glory for what happens.

1 Peter 4:8-11 The Amplified

8Above all things have intense and unfailing love for one another, for love covers a multitude of sins [forgives and [e]disregards the offenses of others].(A)

9Practice hospitality to one another (those of the household of faith). [Be hospitable, be a lover of strangers, with brotherly affection for the unknown guests, the foreigners, the poor, and all others who come your way who are of Christ's body.] And [in each instance] do it ungrudgingly (cordially and graciously, without complaining but as representing Him).

10As each of you has received a gift (a particular spiritual talent, a gracious divine endowment), employ it for one another as [befits] good trustees of God's many-sided grace [faithful stewards of the [f]extremely diverse powers and gifts granted to Christians by unmerited favor].

11Whoever speaks, [let him do it as one who utters] oracles of God; whoever renders service, [let him do it] as with the strength which God furnishes [g]abundantly, so that in all things God may be glorified through Jesus Christ (the Messiah). To Him be the glory and dominion forever and ever (through endless ages). Amen (so be it).

For accountability purposes, I’ll tell how I applied these verses in my life. Each day I meditated on a verse, I posted it on my Facebook page. For verse 8, I asked God to show me someone to love. I love the Amplified version – “have intense and unfailing love for one another, for love covers a multitude of sins.” I also loved the Message version – “…love each other as if your life depended on it.” That is some intense love, isn’t it? Sometimes the hardest people to love are those in our immediate family. Sometimes the hardest people to reach are those in our closest circle. Sometimes the only way you can love like our lives depend on it is to ask God to allow you to see them through His eyes. This goes for family, friends, coworkers and strangers.

The next verse speaks to us as Christians to be hospitable by serving using our spiritual gifts that God has given to each believer. The Amplified said to do it ungrudgingly and WITHOUT COMPLAINING. The Message said to do it cheerfully. Have you ever encountered a “Christian” who complained about most everything? I tend to tell them to put their big girl panties on and deal with it. I don’t have much tolerance for gripers. Last time I checked, griping and complaining weren’t fruits of the Spirit or a gift of the Spirit – just saying! The act of service alone is not enough. Anyone off the street can serve the homeless and the hungry when told to or asked to. How are we as Christians to be different in our service? ATTITUDE. My attitude when I serve my family, my church, and people in my community needs to reflect that of my Creator. What does your attitude say about you? What do your children hear your attitude say? OUCH – They are the closest observers after all.

Verse 10 says we need to exercise and be good stewards of the spiritual gifts God has give each believer. If you don’t know what your spiritual gift is or how to use it, please contact me, and let’s talk about it. I taught a class on spiritual gifts in the fall of 2010. The ladies in my class carried around unopened gifts for about four weeks before they were allowed to open them. There are so many Christians walking around with this personalized, beautiful gift and not even bothering to see what is inside. How do you use your gift? I teach. I lead. Those who exercise their spiritual gifts are more satisfied in serving because they are serving from the overflow that God gives them. They serve from the passion He has put into their hearts. You’ve never served if you haven’t served using your spiritual gifts.

Verse 11 says when we practice our gifts we need to allow God to do it through us. By allowing God to use us to serve others means He will provide the strength and wisdom required for the task at hand. And when God provides anything, He is always generous and always on time. It is for His glory that we serve.

According to Howard and William Hendricks’ book Living by the Book there are nine questions you need to ask yourself when reading the Bible: (pg 342)

1. Is there an example for me to follow?

2. Is there a sin to avoid?

3. Is there a promise to claim?
4. Is there a prayer to repeat?

5. Is there a command to obey?

6. Is there a condition to meet?

7. Is there a verse to memorize?

8. Is there an error to mark?

9. Is there a challenge to face?

I hope you have been challenged during our studies on digging deeper. Now we are going to put it all into practice. Please read the first chapter of Ruth for next week. Read the whole chapter the first day. If you have time, read it in two different translations. Second day, write down the who, what, when, where, why, etc. for each verse. Is there a term you need to research? Get after it. Is anything repeated – write it down. On the fourth day, read it using your imagination – put yourself in the shoes of at least one of the parties involved. On the third day, is there a verse that has been catching your eye and attention – GREAT! Write it down and meditate on it. What is God telling you? Is there something you need to apply to your life? Can’t wait to hear about it.

No comments:

Post a Comment

Thank you for leaving your comments.