Read His Words Before Ours!
They say some things are taught while others are caught.
I’m not exactly sure who “they” are, but I couldn’t agree more.
In reading Paul’s letters, I find in the midst of teaching so many truths, Paul exudes much to be caught. His words are not always explicitly cut up for us to ingest quickly and easily, but are implicitly intended to be chewed upon and stirred up in our hearts.
Paul wrote to the church and challenged them to actually be the Church. Today, his words challenge us to be the Church. Paul is the biblical equivalent of a spiritual personal trainer. In order to be a personal trainer, one must have a passion and love for physical fitness that extends past the practical knowledge of exercise.
Paul’s passion and love for the Lord and the gospel are evident throughout his letters. I challenge you to open just one of his letters and not find references to the gospel. Paul knew his why (introducing every possible person to Christ), and it became the foundation upon which all of Paul’s efforts were built.
Paul pleads for God to strengthen His Church, but at the same time, we, as the Church are not called to passive inaction. Like an athlete, Christ’s Body is urged to grow up in Christ by strength training disciplines and put in hard work to build strong muscle. This is Paul’s strength-training prayer for every believer and every local body of believers.
While we do have a role to play in practicing daily submission to the Holy Spirit, this strengthening cannot happen apart from Christ. The Spirit functioning in our lives enables the strengthening, just as He is the motivation for it. John 15 declares we can do nothing apart from Christ, and abiding in Him is vital by staying in close consistent connection with Him. Ephesians 6 tells us to put on the full armor of God. Praying, worshipping, and fasting are a few spiritual disciplines that help us grow stronger in our faith journey with Christ.
So what are some of the strengthening elements we can “catch” from Paul’s words, beyond his direct teaching? Think of these as the components of a workout a trainer might emphasize, demonstrate, encourage, or adjust in order for the exercise itself to be more effective.
In the three portions of Scripture listed at the beginning of this study, multiple concepts stood out to me, but I’ll only focus on a few. The Holy Spirit may highlight other topics as you read; this is the beauty of the Word being living and active! (2 Timothy 3:16-17) Before His Word can be active in you, it must first be read. If you missed it, I urge you to go back and Read His Words Before Ours!
Humility is the proper form needed to carry the weight of sharing the Gospel. Paul understood the rich truth of the Good News was for both Jews and Gentiles. Therefore, he approached everyone around him with a confident humility, explaining that while he had credibility to teach the Truth, he would not wield it like a weapon against them, instead he held it out in love. Paul’s posture lent credibility towards the Savior who had lovingly rescued him!
Boldness is the determined intensity with which Paul proclaimed the gift of the Gospel. When exercising, I can tell the difference in the effectiveness of my workout when I boldly take on the movements, rather than simply going through the motions. Paul spoke up and did not hesitate to share with any and all who would listen. How often do I fail to obey the nudge of the Holy Spirit to speak up? May I be a bolder person for His glory.
Perseverance is the endurance needed to take the Gospel all the places the Lord calls us to go. While this will look different for every person, all of us will have our perseverance tested at some point. The call to be a Christian will be too much, too out of our comfort zones, too counter-cultural, too costly, too overwhelming, and a myriad of other realities.
Similarly, Paul could have listed a variety of trials that might have caused him to stop his Gospel mission. It’s too painful after another flogging. It’s too scary after surviving a shipwreck. It’s too humiliating to surrender the prestige of his former life.
He could have said all of these things, but instead he stepped into a personal trainer role and urged us to keep going.
Press through the pain.
Press through the rejection.
Press through the costs incurred to invite another soul to experience heaven with us.
My dear sisters, we can do hard things with the Spirit of the Living God at work within us! Christ will carry us through, and He will train our hands for battle. (Psalm 144:1-2)
Let’s put in the work to allow the Lord to strengthen us, to teach us how to be the Church, and to catch Paul’s passion. May we be proven answers to Paul’s prayers.
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!