Moments in the life of a Pastor

Walking with God

28 Life of Love Part 1

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Ephesians 4:2 “Always be humble and gentle. Be patient with each other, making allowance for each other’s faults because of your love.”

Have you ever heard a rousing speech that has awakened within you a desire to rise up and respond to those words? When William Wallace challenged the Scottish army not to flee but fight by saying: “Aye, fight and you may die. Run, and you’ll live… at least a while. And dying in your beds, many years from now, would you be willin’ to trade ALL the days, from this day to that, for one chance, just one chance, to come back here and tell our enemies that they may take our lives, but they’ll never take… OUR FREEDOM!” I wanted to join and be part of that band of brothers. When Aragorn said “this is not the day to forsake our friends but the day to fight”, I was ready to charge with him. Speeches stir our souls giving us a vision of what could be if we would commit to the cause. When I read Paul’s letters I am reminded that these words were distributed to the church and read aloud for all present.  Have you ever thought about the first time the first three chapters of Ephesians were read aloud to the church? Hearing about the blessing after blessing, the glory and the power, of love that cannot be measured, then closing with that magnificent doxology: “Now to him who is able to do far more abundantly than all that we ask or think, accord to t power at work within us, to him be glory in the church & Christ Jesus throughout all generations, forever & ever. Amen.” It is difficult to think of a more exhilarating moving and motivating speech. Then the letter shifts gears and in light of the power and the glory and the love of God in Christ, Paul urges his listeners to “walk in a manner worthy of the calling to which you have been called.” Imagine the anticipation and the buildup of the first three chapters. “Yes, Paul, yes! We are ready to go forth. Tell us what to do.” And they then hear the words: “…with all humility and gentleness, with patience, bearing with one another in love, eager to maintain the unity of the Spirit in the bond of peace.” Really that’s the battle cry? Be humble? Be gentle? Be Patient? That’s the best Paul can come up with? It’s like a soldier heeding the call to fight for his country, and then being pulled aside and told to be nice to the other soldiers and mind his manners, to be respectful of his officers. Have you ever thought about what part of the letter you would have come next? If it had been me (thankfully it wasn’t), I would have had what Paul wrote in chapter 6:10 come next “Be strong in the Lord and in the strength of his might. Put on the whole armor of God that you may be able to stand against the schemes of the devil. For we do not wrestle against flesh and blood, but against the rulers, against the authorities, against the cosmic powers over this present darkness, against the spiritual forces of evil in the heavenly places.” That would seem to be more fitting for the battle cry to be we will fight against the cosmic powers. So why does Paul start out the way he does? Is it because he thinks he needs to start with the basics before moving to the battle or is it that how we live is the battle! Are you ready to fight? Paul says that joining the battle is being humble and gentle, patient and making allowance for other’s faults, why, because of love. The battle in life is love, it’s what caused Jesus to wrestle in the garden and die on the cross and love won the battle. So what about you, will you join the battle with:

  • Humility

The first thing Paul tells us about living a worthy life is that it involves humility, actually it says all or complete humility. The Greek word is comprises of two words which refer to lowliness and the heart or mind so the Greek defines humility for us as a heart or mind that thinks lowly of itself. Philippians paints the picture of humility for us. “Do nothing from rivalry or conceit, but in humility count others more significant than yourselves. Let each of you look not only to his own interests, but also to the interests of others” (Philippians 2:3-4). Humility is an attitude of counting the interests of others as greater than mine; it is refusing to insist on my rights and actually putting others ahead of me. The beginning of the battle then is how we view others and our need to get out of the way so that we can see them. It is more than just having a fair-minded view of ourselves and not being puffed up; we are to “count others more significant” than ourselves. Why is this the beginning of the battle, because this is what leads to the scandalous behavior of turning the other cheek, giving up your coat after your shirt has been taken, going the extra mile and helping someone who has already taken advantage you. It involves nursing and paying for the care of a stranger who has no claim on you. It includes kneeling down and washing the dirty feet of those who are under your authority. It means being known as a slave of all because you serve everyone. In short it means living out Philippians 2:3-8 and being like Jesus, “Have this mind among yourselves, which is yours in Christ Jesus, who, though he was in the form of God, did not count equality with God a thing to be grasped, but made himself nothing, taking the form of a servant, being born in the likeness of men. And being found in human form, he humbled himself by becoming obedient to the point of death, even death on a cross.”  Such humility, and only such humility, is worthy of the calling that we have received. Only such humility will enable us to carry out what we are then told to be and do. For with humility we are next called by Christ to possess:

  • Gentleness

The image that comes to my mind that best captures the essence of this word is the picture of power under control seen in how a horse responds to the reins of its rider. Gentleness is not about acting weak or subservient, but rather keeping strength in check to do what is best for others. The gentle person does not feel the need to throw his weight around, but rather to use whatever ability he has for the good of others. Without humility what would happen to gentleness, our world reveals the answer, it would be swallowed up by selfishness. Humility reveals the Savior and pride reveals people. Today the battle cry of love may seem a strange song but how we live this life is what the battle is really over. Today will you rise to the call of Christ and live a life worth of your calling or will you run?  “Aye, fight and you may die. Run, and you’ll live… at least a while. And dying in your beds, many years from now, would you be willin’ to trade ALL the days, from this day to that, for one chance, just one chance, to come back here and tell our enemies that they may take our lives, but they’ll never take… OUR FREEDOM!”

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