Sunday, September 13, 2015
Paul signs off his letter to the Corinthians today, and he sums up with a few short, pithy statements.
"Be joyful." I'd like to point out that this doesn't mean trying to whip yourself up into a grin when things aren't particularly happy in your life. It doesn't mean "act happy" even though you're not. It means to focus on the things in your life that bring you joy. And no matter how dire your situation is, there are things that bring you joy. If you have trouble finding them, ask God to show you. And also, just ask for joy. He's good at giving us that. It's one of the fruits of the Spirit (which means that when He lives in you, He'll give you joy just as part of His being in you. If you are asking yourself "Does He live in me?" then ask Him to! That's the first of many amazing steps to a wonderful life.)
"Grow to maturity." This seems like a silly thing to say. Like telling someone "Grow taller." But it's not. How many people do you know that are in their later years, but still need to "grow up"? On the other hand, how many young people have you met that are "wise beyond their years"? Sometimes "growing to maturity" has little to do with how many times we've sailed around the sun, and more to do with how we deal with pain, adversity, and other hurdles in our lives. Have we grown from them? Become a better person? Or a bitter person? Makes a huge difference.
"Encourage each other." So, 'encourage' means to strengthen one another's hearts. How do we do that? By sharing. Sharing our struggles, our pains, our joys, our loves, our broken hearts. When we share these things with other people, we encourage them. Not just one of these things, but all of them. If my friend only sees when I succeed (Facebook syndrome?) then they might feel like their life is empty and full of problems, while mine is nothing but awesome. But when I share my weakness, my pains, my struggles... it helps others to know that they're not the only one. Just that sharing helps our hearts to grow stronger... gives us courage to face our own struggles.
"Live in harmony and peace. Then the God of love and peace will be with you." How do we live in harmony and peace? Well, by loving one another. By being patient and kind to one another. By not holding grudges. By hoping the best for each other. Let me tell you, most people face the biggest struggles of their faith journey in how they treat their own family. They say that familiarity breeds contempt, and I think everyone can see how that can happen. When you're with someone day in and day out for years, it's easy for one person's selfishness to become practically unbearable. Loving our own families can be one of the biggest challenges of our lives. But God is there every step of the way, enabling us to do what we cannot do in our own strength. Ask Him to help... and He will.
And then the God of love and peace will be with you. That's a promise, right straight out of the NT for you to experience. If you strive to live in harmony and peace, then God will be with you.
God, please help me to live this way, so I can live in your love, your peace, and most of all your presence.
PS in case you were worried and I wasn't clear, Paul is signing off his letter to the Corinthians. I'm not signing off of my blog. :)