Read His Words Before Ours!
Preach the gospel. Be ready, whether you are uncomfortable or at ease. Be patient in guiding, correcting and encouraging your people with sound truth from the Word.
I paraphrase, but Paul’s words to Timothy are clear. As we finish the book of II Timothy, a few points stand out to us. We know that Paul was writing to Timothy, a young leader in the church. While each of us may be involved in serving our own churches in various ways or functions, it is doubtful that every one of us would consider ourselves to be “church leaders.” However, if we have accepted Christ, did He not issue the Great Commission to us, too? “Go into all the world and preach the gospel.” To quote a certain youth pastor I know, no matter my occupation, “I am a full-time minister of the gospel!” And if you have given your life to Jesus, so are you. Paul’s instruction to Timothy is with regard to how he should approach discipling those entrusted to his leadership, but his words ring true for us as well.
Preach the gospel. The reason this charge causes many of us to squirm is because our experience in seeing others “preach the gospel” outside the church building resembles the man on the corner with a sandwich board sign held high for all to see. Or the “holier-than-thou” acquaintance posting religion-charged political posts into the void that is Facebook. If we, who already love and know Jesus, are turned off by this, how much more alienated are our pre-believing friends and family? The gospel is first and foremost about inviting others into relationship, just as God invited us into relationship with Him through Jesus’ sacrifice.
As we examine our own lives, can we say that we are walking that out? Are we living a life of invitation to others? I’m not talking about other believers here. Are we finding ways to intentionally connect with and build relationship with those in the world around us who don’t yet know Christ so we might live out the gospel by being Christ to them? And once we find those ways…are we putting them into action?
Be ready, whether you are uncomfortable or at ease. Ya’ll, we will be uncomfortable. Jesus guaranteed it. Loving is not self-serving. It requires time, effort, intention, selflessness…all things that require us to drop the mindset of our culture, get out of our comfort zone and focus on putting the needs of others first.
Be patient in guiding, correcting and encouraging your people with sound truth from the Word. In this age of constant connectivity, instant gratification and endless knowledge only a Google search away, patience is quickly becoming a rarity. Aside from all that, every parent or teacher will agree that repeating the same thing over and over again can be exhausting. Frustration threatens to rush in when we repeat the same instruction or admonishment, only to find that those we thought were listening…weren’t really listening at all. Paul’s instruction shows us that we are not only to be patient with those we disciple, but we are also to encourage them with the solid Truth of the Word. Rather than grumbling or complaining, we are to speak the Word of life into those around us.
Did you catch that? Mouse over that link again.
Do everything without grumbling or complaining.
Dishes, laundry, cleaning the bathroom
Homework, chores, mowing the yard
Change dirty diapers,
answering endless toddler questions,
tripping over the 1000th Lego block,
responding to last minute inconveniences,
receiving unexpected guests,
or listening to our spouse’s long-winded story
E v e r y t h i n g.
Love inconveniences us because it isn’t about us. As we learn to flourish in love and how to speak life into those around us, we must also examine whether or not we are serving others without grumbling or complaining even in our own minds. Can we say that we willingly approach everything we do without grumbling or complaining? Does our inner dialogue reflect a servant’s heart…or a selfish one?
As we approach discipling with a new awareness of our heart posture, let’s take time this week to note the times when we begin to grumble or complain to ourselves. Rather than allow that to continue, let’s make a point to begin thanking God in place of those complaints. As we begin to choose an attitude of praise in the face of our discomfort, His heart for others will begin to flourish inside us.
Embracing God’s fullness in our lives is rooted in scripture and memorizing His word is vital to our continued growth and depth with Jesus. Tap and hold from your mobile device to download this week’s verse and make it your phone’s lockscreen!