Yesterday’s writing ended with us clothing ourselves in the characteristics of Jesus. The outer covering of all those characteristics must be Christ’s righteousness and love. The love of Christ wraps around us, reaches out and touches others and binds us all together in unity and perfect harmony. Jesus promised us a peace that passes understanding and we have that when Jesus is ruling our hearts. The Good News about Jesus fills our lives. Then we are to teach others that message using the wisdom He gives us. That love and unity is how we should represent Jesus to unbelievers. To quote Francis of Assisi, “Preach the Gospel and, if necessary, use words.” Most of all, we should always have “an attitude of gratitude” thanking God for all His love and blessings. That attitude comes from a heart filled with joy and causes our lips to sing His praises all day, every day!
10 I am overwhelmed with joy in the Lord my God! For he has dressed me with the clothing of salvation and draped me in a robe of righteousness. I am like a bridegroom dressed for his wedding- Isaiah 61:10 NLT
“The Gospel has come to you because it’s on its way to someone else.” -Anonymous
1 If I speak in the tongues of men or of angels, but do not have love, I am only a resounding gong or a clanging cymbal.–1 Cor. 12:31-13:1 NIV
In chapter 12, Paul has been explaining the importance of each individual in being part of the body of Christ. He ends chapter 12 with the instructions to desire the greater gifts. Before the translators came up with divisions of chapters and verses, this would have been a continuation of Paul’s words without an interruption. Paul immediately launches into an elongated definition of love, giving us the “love” chapter of Corinthians 13. This is a pretty strong hint in what Paul considers to be the most important aspect of Christianity. Unless our words are backed up with actions of love, we are just making noise and creating much ado about nothing. Then Paul starts chapter 14 with this verse
Let love be your highest goal! But you should also desire the special abilities the Spirit gives—especially the ability to prophesy–1 Cor. 14:1 NLT
Paul continues his letter with a discussion of gifts and their use in the church. Remember that Paul wrote these two letters to the Corinthians because they were having issues in the church about gifts and who was the most important. So, right in the middle of this discourse on the body of Christ and the gifts God has given us, he pauses to emphasize that none of this is about us. It is about serving God in love and unity. Use your gift in love to edify others, but don’t think that it makes you any more important than anyone else in the congregation.
“The Gospel has come to you because it’s on its way to someone else.” – Anonymous
10 I appeal to you, brothers and sisters, in the name of our Lord Jesus Christ, that all of you agree with one another in what you say and that there be no divisions among you, but that you be perfectly united in mind and thought.11 My brothers and sisters, some from Chloe’s household have informed me that there are quarrels among you. 12 What I mean is this: One of you says, “I follow Paul”; another, “I follow Apollos”; another, “I follow Cephas”; still another, “I follow Christ.”—1 Cor. 1:10-12 (NIV) The only way the church at Corinth or any church can be in unity is through the leadership of the Holy Spirit. As long as we follow after fleshly desires, we will each have our own opinion about every little thing. The world sees these things going on in the church and wonders, rightly, what we have that they don’t have. Before two or three people or a group of any size can be united, each individual has to be willing to give up their “rights”. When we go to church or to any group for that matter, we need to leave our egos at the door. As Christians, we do not receive a “bill of rights”. Our leader, Jesus Christ, modeled an attitude of service and good works. If our focus is on what Jesus wants and not what our flesh wants, we will be united in our worship and our service to the community. If we set this example, the world will want what we have. 28 just as the Son of Man did not come to be served, but to serve, and to give his life as a ransom for many.”—Matt. 20:28 (NIV)
“The Gospel has come to you because it’s on its way to someone else.” -Anonymous
12 Therefore, as God’s chosen people, holy and dearly loved, clothe yourselves with compassion, kindness, humility, gentleness and patience. 13 Bear with each other and forgive one another if any of you has a grievance against someone. Forgive as the Lord forgave you. 14 And over all these virtues put on love, which binds them all together in perfect unity.. — Colossians 3:12-14 NIV
The characteristics that Paul talks about here are totally contrary to the flesh. Yet, these are the goals that we should be striving toward in our daily walk with Jesus. All of us have certain areas in which God has gifted us and the change from natural to spiritual in these areas are easier for us than for others. The flesh is stubborn and wants to hold onto the old ways. Nevertheless, we must strive every day to improve in all of the areas. Being humble is hard for the flesh. When we do good deeds, we want to be recognized and praised for those good deeds. But, we must remember that we are doing these things for Jesus and laying up our rewards in heaven.
2 “So when you give to the needy, do not announce it with trumpets, as the hypocrites do in the synagogues and on the streets, to be honored by others. Truly I tell you, they have received their reward in full. 3 But when you give to the needy, do not let your left hand know what your right hand is doing, 4 so that your giving may be in secret. Then your Father, who sees what is done in secret, will reward you. — Matt. 6:2-4
Probably the toughest of all of these things is to learn to truly forgive. We say that we have forgiven those who have hurt us, but how do we treat that person after we have said those words. Does remembering the incident still cause you to act differently toward that person? Forgiveness is not a pardon for the person’s wrong, It is not saying that what they did is okay. It is saying that we all make mistakes and we all need forgiveness at times, so we should forgive others because of the forgiveness we have experienced in our lives, particularly, the forgiveness of our sins by Jesus. We need to forgive for our own benefit and not allow a root of bitterness to grow in our hearts that satan can use to destroy relationships with others and eventually destroy us.
31 Let all bitterness and wrath and anger and clamor and slander be put away from you, along with all malice. 32 Be kind to one another, tender-hearted, forgiving each other, just as God in Christ also has forgiven you. — Ephesians 4:31
14 Above all, clothe yourselves with love, which binds us all together in perfect harmony. 15 And let the peace that comes from Christ rule in your hearts. For as members of one body you are called to live in peace. And always be thankful. 16 Let the message about Christ, in all its richness, fill your lives. Teach and counsel each other with all the wisdom he gives. Sing psalms and hymns and spiritual songs to God with thankful hearts. 17 And whatever you do or say, do it as a representative of the Lord Jesus, giving thanks through him to God the Father.–Col. 3:14-17 (NLT)
Yesterday’s writing ended with us clothing ourselves in the characteristics of Jesus. The outer covering of all those characteristics must be love. The love of Christ wraps around us, reaches out and touches others and binds us all together in unity and perfect harmony. Jesus promised us a peace that passes understanding and we have that when Jesus is ruling our hearts. The Good News about Jesus fills our lives. Then we are to teach others that message using the wisdom He gives us. That love and unity is how we should represent Jesus to unbelievers. To quote Francis of Assisi, “Preach the Gospel and, if necessary, use words.” Most of all, we should always have “an attitude of gratitude” thanking God for all His love and blessings. That attitude comes from a heart filled with joy and causes our lips to sing His praises all day, every day!
15 We limit our boasting to the work that is ours. We don’t boast about the work other people have done. We hope that your faith will continue to grow. We hope that you will help our work to grow much larger. 16 We want to tell the Good News in the areas beyond your city. We don’t want to boast about work that has already been done in someone else’s area. 17 “Whoever boasts should boast only about the Lord.” 18 What people say about themselves means nothing. What counts is whether the Lord says they have done well.–2 Corinthians 10:15-18 (EtRV)
God has given each of us certain talents that we are to use for our livelihood. These talents are also to be used for Kingdom work here on earth. The workplace is our mission field that God has given to each of us. Our jobs may be temporary, short term or long term, but it is where God has planted us for now. Use your talents to to do the work well. Not everyone is called to be a pastor, missionary, music director, etc., but we are all called to be servants of one another to make the church stronger. Our job is to minister (serve) those that God puts in our path. Our vocational work may give us earthly rewards, but we are to lay up our rewards in heaven. We can do that by loving and serving others.