Yes. Yes. Yes. And, yes! I would say those are my answers to Paul’s first four questions. He seems to be urging his friends into spiritual unity. When we can all work together, caring for others and putting others first, we move closer to becoming more like Jesus. Selfish behavior can ruin a church while humility can restore and rebuild. Think about a situation in your church or community where grace and respect would have been the better answer.
Read these “warning” words from Paul again, “Don’t be selfish; don’t try to impress others. Be humble, thinking of others as better than yourselves. Don’t look out only for your own interests, but take an interest in others, too.” If you’re like me, you immediately pictured yourself in the “reprimand.” Now read this message again and picture Jesus and how he lived and interacted with others. How cool is that? Jesus totally lived out these words!
In this short reading, Paul reveals several challenges we face in how we are living our lives. At first, I couldn’t help remembering how we all scurried around the house on a Sunday morning so we could all look our best at church. Then there were the repeated reminders to “be on your best behavior.” These days, it seems anything goes in terms of attire at church, and that’s okay because God can see our hearts.
So, what does Paul mean then by “conducting yourselves in a manner worthy of the Good News about Christ.” What does that mean to you? Thankfully, Paul does give us a few clues to help us sort that out.
I can still see myself sitting at the kitchen table in my pajamas as a teen. After everyone had gone to bed, and the house was quiet, I wrote. I wrote a lot of things in a journal questioning my purpose. I suppose you could say I was talking to God on those pages. I may have even written “Dear God” at the top of some of those rants.
Even still today, I ask God daily to show me my purpose, how I can best walk this journey of faith with him close. These words of Paul really resonate with me today, and I feel a kindred spirit with him and how he sees his own journey.
Do you ever feel like you’re the only one that doesn’t have it all together? I know lots of women who confess on social media they are simply a “hot mess” struggling to pull it all together to be a positive influence on their families and in the workplace. Why do we all feel it necessary to put on a good show for the rest of the world? Isn’t it better to just be ourselves, comfortable in our own skin, thankful for what God has provided?
One of my favorite sayings we used often in our Celebrate Recovery ministry over the years was, “God never wastes a hurt.” Think about that one for a moment. God can use everything we experience and make something good out of it. Paul is alluding to this in this passage when he gives credit to how his less than desirable circumstances have helped him spread the Good News!
Imagine Paul just prayed this prayer for you. Paul was asking God to provide these things for his friends. Even if Paul didn’t particularly have you in mind, all these years later let me direct this prayer to you. I’ll use Paul’s words because they are just that good. And timely.
Am I the only one that feels overwhelmed when I turn on the news? I’ve started getting my news from a Christian source that has already sifted through all the noise of the media to pick the stories that seem to be most fact-filled. As a writer, it’s hard to admit that other writers (journalists) are seemingly being manipulated by society to write with a certain slant or bias. Have you noticed that the same stories sound different depending on who is telling the story?