The “One Anothers”

heartWhen asked which commandment was the greatest, Jesus replied “Love the Lord your God”. He went on to say that loving one’s neighbor as one’s self is the second greatest commandment (Matt 22:37-39). It is interesting that when asked about which was the first, He went on to add the second. From this we gather the importance of the second as well as the first. But loving unspecified others is hard, especially for an introvert like me. What does it even mean, to love others?

Last night while reading John MacArthur’s wonderful book Saved Without a Doubt: Being Sure of Your Salvation, I came upon a list of what he calls the ‘One Anothers’ that outlines the Biblical answer to the question of what God expects when He commands us to love our neighbors.

Here is what we are to do:

  • confess our sins to one another (James 5:16),
  • forgive one another (Col. 3:13),
  • bear one another’s burdens (Gal 6:2),
  • rebuke one another (Titus 1:13 NIV),
  • comfort one another (1 Thess. 4:18),
  • encourage one another to do good (Heb 10:24-25),
  • edify one another (Rom 14:19 NIV),
  • counsel one another (Rom 15:14),
  • submit to one another (Eph 5:21 NIV),
  • instruct one another (Col 3:16)
  • be hospitable to one another (1 Peter 4:9-10),
  • bear with one another (Col 3:12-13),
  • pray for one another (James 5:16),
  • serve one another (Gal 5:13).

May God Bless your efforts.

Glorify Him Now

Someday we will join the saints in glorifying our Lord. But we are instructed to do our best to glorify him in our earthly lives as well. I love this prayer that I just came across in Charles Spurgeon’s Morning and Evening. I struggle to find my life’s purpose, so this is particularly meaningful for me.

“Lord, help me to glorify thee;

I am poor; help me to glorify thee by contentment;

I am sick; help me to give thee honour by patience;

I have talents; help me to extol thee by spending them for thee;

I have time; Lord, help me to redeem it, that I may serve thee;

I have a heart to feel; Lord, let that heart feel no love but thine, and glow with no flame but affection for thee;

I have a head to think; Lord, help me to think of thee and for thee; thou hast put me in this world for something; Lord, show me what that is, and help me to work out my life-purpose: I cannot do much; but as the widow put in her two mites, which were all her living, so, Lord, I cast my time and eternity too into thy treasury; I am all thine; take me, and enable me to glorify thee now, in all that I say, in all that I do, and with all that I have.”

Little Pieces, Big Picture

Mosaic CloseupToday I listened to a speaker that likened our lives to a beautiful mosaic. In the midst of our everyday decision making, problem solving, advice giving, comfort seeking lives, we are pressed up closely to the mosaic, which is made up of all the events of our lives. We see only the small section of the mosaic that is directly before as us we wonder how the events and challenges we are working with today can ever fit harmoniously in with the tiny bits and pieces we see in front of us.

Of course, we all know that we must step back from a mosaic to view its image. When we do that, we no longer see the individual chips and pieces but rather the beautiful overall image created by the sum of the pieces. Yet even knowing this, stepping back from one’s own life to glimpse the big picture is so much easier said than done. The everyday happenings that demand our attention keep our noses firmly pressed against the small section of the mosaic on which we must focus today.

Some time ago I wrote a post about my crazy-strong desire to be able to play a musical instrument coupled with my complete inability to do so. Sometimes when I listen to the radio, the beauty of the music or words or both is so powerful and the disappointment that I cannot play or sing so strong that I have to turn it off.

mosaic purple flowerRecently, I went to the hospital because of a sudden blinding pain running down my left arm from my shoulder to the tips of my fingers. Eventually the fingers of my hand became numb and lost feeling. Doctors diagnosed degenerative joint disease of the spine causing the branch of nerves that runs from the spine down the left arm to be pinched between the bony vertebra of the spine and the disc. With treatment that included injecting a steroid into the root of the nerve where it branches from the spine, the worst of the pain is gone but I am left with a constant painful tingling and lack of feeling in the index finger and thumb of my left hand. Whenever I touch anything, be it the keys of a keyboard or even the running water when I wash my hands, I feel a buzzing jolt similar to when a leg or arm has fallen asleep, as we say, and is inadvertently knocked up against something. Of course the doctors cannot say for certain what will happen, but this condition frequently recurs and often progresses over time as the discs continue to degenerate. There is no known cure.

Now, in light of this condition, my inability to play an instrument begins to seem like a blessing. I cannot image having such a wonderful gift and developing it over years of practice only to suddenly lose it. Further, I now consider myself fortunate to have been given the desire to play because it led me to take music lessons with my sons, something I very much enjoyed. Finally, the big picture emerges. At long last I realize that I did gain something valuable from a lack of ability that caused me so much consternation over the years.

Does this mean I am now at peace with my everyday challenges knowing that they all contribute perfectly to the mosaic that is my life? Not at all. I have this insight for a moment, but soon it will be gone again. In the very near future I will again find myself with my nose pressed up against the mosaic, studying the interplay of the many tiny pieces in my search for direction. I comfort myself by thinking that having seen the big picture this once, the next time I may see it more readily. Perhaps, in time, I will come to know that the link between my current struggles and the good that comes from them is always there, whether I see it or not.

God Is Home

Earlier this week, I read a piece by Charles Spurgeon on Deuteronomy 33:27, “The eternal God is thy refuge.” I tend to think of a refuge as some sort of fort or other protected place, but, in this particular piece, Spurgeon explains that the root of the word refuge goes more toward mansion or abiding place—the place where we live. As he says, “there is a fullness and sweetness” in the metaphor of God as a home rather than a fortress. I suffer from an anxiety disorder, so home has always been my safe place, the place where I feel most at ease, and I was immediately drawn to this idea of God as a home. Just as I take shelter in my home, I can take shelter in God. That’s right—in God.  As Spurgeon points out, God is our abode, our home, and we live in Him.

One of my favorite points is this: at home we can speak our hearts without worry about being misunderstood because we are with our loved ones who know us best and cherish us. It is even more so with God. We can communicate freely with Him because He understands us more deeply than any other and cherishes us more than any other.

The last point Spurgeon makes is that our home is what motivates us to get up and go to work in the morning. We work to maintain our home, to make it our cozy “refuge” from the troubles and trials of this world. Likewise, by thinking about God as our home, we desire to work harder to accomplish His work, to maintain our home in Him.

How warm and comforting it is to think of God this way. Yet, I struggle to keep this in mind as I enter the worldly fray each morning. As I pursue my Christian journey, in fits and starts, I feel myself diverging farther from the worldly path, the politically correct path, the publicly sanctioned path. I feel disconnected. I think that’s why it is so important to connect with other Christians—so that we can encourage each other and remind each other that God is home.