Sunday, July 28, 2019

Allowances Made

Allowances Made
July 29, 2019
Colossians 3:13  "Bear with each other and forgive one another if any of you has a grievance against someone. Forgive as the Lord forgave you."

Paul was writing to the new churches, one specially to the Colossians. He was encouraging them in how they should be living their lives as transformed and empowered Christians. His list was not a set of commandments, rather a list or encouragements that radically challenged their current lifestyle. Their original lifestyle, similar to many today, was internally focused. He challenged them to not only focus on Christ but to focus on others. He said they (we) are to bear with each other and forgive each other. This is not a new topic for those who have been a Christian any length of time. We are to forgive others as Christ has forgiven us. But the first part of Paul's statement was to bear with each other. 

The word used to describe bearing with someone else is only found in another instance in Scripture and the meaning connotes making an allowance for someone else. This allowance is knowingly working with a persons weaknesses and personality faults and making a way for them in your relationship with them. Paul was not suggesting we should put up with someone's abuse but he was saying that people are not going to be perfect and you get to put up with all their personality flaws. We tend to view people with personal weaknesses and personality flaws and then judge their Christianity. If they were a perfect Christian, then they would be overcoming those completely obvious personality flaws. Unfortunately, there is not perfect Christian, and the Lord works on people at a different pace than your or me, sometimes. 

Paul said we are to make room for people's quirks and idiosyncrasies and known weaknesses, because sometimes those weaknesses may never change. Some weaknesses a person has can never be fixed. If someone is not creative or imaginative, and lives in concrete mental boxes sometimes, judging them for not thinking outside the box is not a fair trial. Some people are good at relationships and others are good at math. There is no optimum blend of skill sets and strengths. It would be a flawed request to ask a mathematician to work as a relationship counselor, that is not how the Lord makes people. But the Lord gifted the mathematician just as much as He gifted the elementary school teacher. There is room for both, including all the styles of personalities out there. Paul said we are to make room for the way people are, extra room for grace in working with them because they are not perfect. You are not perfect either, far from it; and people make allowances for you quite often. We tend to think we are the only one giving in a relationship or putting up with another's flaws and weaknesses. The Lord said to get along and pad the room for someone's known shortcomings.

Paul did not say to put up with blatant sin, but he did say to work with someone in spite of their weaknesses. No one is perfect. Jesus, even though He was perfect, did have an unique personality style that may not have meshed with everyone perfectly. His style may not have been easy to digest initially, and working with Jesus was not always easy. People bring their own insecurities and style to the table, and maybe it isn't the other person that needs the allowances. Make allowances for others, so  you can get along with them. Pad the clock to work with their schedule. Pad the grace bank to work with their personality. Pad the level of forgiveness to compensate for their little slip ups. People have to do this for you more often than you realize. Allowances have been made, do likewise.

Don't take my word for it; look it up: Ps 103:12, Eph 4:2 & 32, Col 3:13-23

Sunday, July 7, 2019

Remember Me

Remember Me
July 8, 2019
Psalm 106:4  "Remember me, Lord, when you show favor to your people, come to my aid when you save them."

The Lord knows when a sparrow falls from the sky. That is a familiar phrase from Scripture. It was actually Jesus speaking, and comparing our worth as humans to that of a small sparrow. A small sparrow is insignificant, not able to be counted in a flock of birds. You've seen thousands of small birds in the sky, in a giant swarm, almost appearing as a swarm of bees. If one of those small birds is taken out of the count, would you even notice? Jesus said the Lord would notice and in fact if the Lord desires that specific sparrow to stay in the flock, it could not fall. If a sparrow does fall out of that flock of birds, the Lord is more than aware, involved even. Jesus said we are far more valuable than those teeny birds, to the Lord, and He knows about everything that goes on. Not only is the Lord aware of us, but we are valuable to Him.

The Lord knows all, sees all, certainly you. Do you ever think that the Lord has forgotten you? In readying the psalms, the writers are often deeply vulnerable, exposing their feelings and the fullest raw portions of their humanity. In Psalm 106, David was confessing on behalf of the entire nation of Israelites. He asked the Lord to remember them. Specifically, he was repenting of the nation's sins and begging the Lord to remember them when it was time to save everyone. Fast forward to the death of Jesus on the cross, the moment of salvation and there was a sinner on a cross next to Him. The sinner acknowledged and confessed his sin, then asked Jesus to remember him when it was time to save. Neither men, David or the sinner on the cross, needed to use the phrase, "remember me." How could the Lord forget? Both of those men, and all the Children of Israel, were valuable to Him.

When you and I have items of value, we do not forget them. Parents understand this well, a child is not easily forgotten. When I prepare a meal for my children, the middle child does not have to say, "remember me" as I'm setting enough plates for the family or in making sure there is enough food. How could I forget my own son? If I love my son, and he is valuable to me, forgetting is not something I could do. Similarly, the Lord remembers you at all times. But like the psalmist, sometimes we think the Lord has forgotten us. If we fear the Lord has forgotten us, then we have devalued ourselves, perceiving ourselves unworthy of His love. As humans, it is difficult to understand the love of the Father, since we can only love as humans love. But He loves us with a supernatural love that we cannot understand. He does not approve of our sin, but He loves us nonetheless, not able to forget us. Maybe judging by your own sin, you think that has now made you unlovable and must beg the Lord to remember you once again.  He loves you, knowing your sin, and has not forgotten you.  

If you think the Lord no longer remembers you, the correct prayer is not to beg the Lord to remember you, rather remind you of His love for you. The Lord neither forgets us or stops loving us, we simply lose sight of how much He loves us. If you think the Lord has forgotten you, ask Him to remind you how much He loves you. 

Don't take my word for it; look it up: Ps 138:1-18, Ps 139:2, Job 23:8, Matt 10:29-31, Lk 23:42