1.29: It is for this that I toil, striving with all the energy that he stirs up in me so mightily. I love how this captures both our part and His part. We are to be good stewards of the energy that God stirs up in us. Too often we lean on one side of this equation rather than on both. For me I feel this most in my attitude towards quiet times. I strive and strive for a disciplined routine and it actually means that I do them in my own strength. Rather than stopping and asking God to have is way. Because of my own effort, without dependency, I get easily angry at interruptions and all sorts and things that stop me from getting finished in the time I want it. These moments reminds me that I’m not dependent on God, but myself. I reckon it would be handy to see interruptions as divine (there’s a balance here, and having my quiet times early in the morning does help in this).
2.7: Remain deeply rooted in him; continue being built up in him and confirmed in your trust, the way you were taught, so that you overflow in thanksgiving. This stood out to me because it says that the/a reason we should be rooted in Him (Christ) is “so that” we overflow with thanksgiving. Often I forget that thanksgiving comes from being deeply rooted in Christ. Elsewhere in the Bible it talks about remaining in Christ so that we can produce fruit (Jn 15), maybe here we can see that one of the fruit we produce is thanksgiving. I want to be more thankful, and remember to thank God for even the little things. This is what it means to overflow. I remember a sermon I heard years and years back, in London, the guy said: “gratitude is rarely silent”. How is my thankfulness expressed to God, to others?
4.5-6: Behave wisely toward outsiders, making full use of every opportunity — let your conversation always be gracious and interesting, so that you will know how to respond to any particular individual. The NIV and ESV uses the phrase seasoned with Salt, instead of interesting. But because the NLT uses “attractive”, I reckon “interesting” is a not far off translation! How about that? I think when we spend a lot of time round people we adopt their way of speaking, and especially in groups this can shut out outsiders and make them feel unwelcome. This was an interesting check for me, on the way I speak. Am I approachable, am I relevant, am I interesting in what I talk about? I know this doesn’t mean put on a pretence and never talk about things which are unpopular (the Bible clearly teaches that the world will hate the gospel). But there is a tension here. Am I so caught up about talking about niche interests (books, church, psychology, gaming and sci-fi?) that I am really hard to get to know and therefore Christ who dwells inside me is hard to know. Back again, I know that these niche interests may be the very tools God uses to reach others in my life….Tensions, tensions, its a fine line. But I’m not going to ignore these words, may be conversation be seasoned with salt, carry the aroma of life and be flavoursome to the world!
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