Therefore I, the prisoner of the Lord, implore you to walk in a manner worthy of the calling with which you have been called, with all humility and gentleness, with patience, showing tolerance for one another in love, being diligent to preserve the unity of the Spirit in the bond of peace. There is one body and one Spirit, just as also you were called in one hope of your calling; one Lord, one faith, one baptism, one God and Father of all who is over all and through all and in all... Therefore, laying aside falsehood, speak truth each one of you with his neighbor, for we are members of one another. Be angry, and yet do not sin; do not let the sun go down on your anger, and do not give the devil an opportunity. He who steals must steal no longer; but rather he must labor, performing with his own hands what is good, so that he will have something to share with one who has need. Let no unwholesome word proceed from your mouth, but only such a word as is good for edification according to the need of the moment, so that it will give grace to those who hear. Do not grieve the Holy Spirit of God, by whom you were sealed for the day of redemption. Let all bitterness and wrath and anger and clamor and slander be put away from you, along with all malice. Be kind to one another, tender-hearted, forgiving each other, just as God in Christ also has forgiven you.My words and my actions ought to reflect the calling of God on my life--to love Him with all my heart, soul, mind, and strength.
As my words and actions reflect this, they ought to be a means of uniting the people of God together. I must humbly realize the truth of 1 Corinthians 4:7... that I have nothing that I did not receive. God has given me absolutely everything that I have, including the grace to turn to Him in the first place and to want to be obedient to His ways. It is not that I am a better person than the unsaved guy at work... it is simply that God mercifully gave me grace to love Him.
As I think of patience and tolerance, I am reminded of how my dad taught me so many things... as did several other mentors in my life. This men could have done jobs so much faster if I wasn't in their way and yet they chose to invest in me so that I could learn a new skill. I was praying recently about my involvement in ministry and just wanting so much for the Lord to use me not only to serve His people, but to also build others up in serving His people as well. I haven't done a great job of that up to this point, but I pray that with the Lord's help, I will be more aware of those opportunities. I love how the Lord works... I was thinking through these things on Saturday and the Lord provided a wonderful opportunity on Sunday evening to do this very thing. Perhaps God has been providing these opportunities all along and I have just been missing them, but it was a blessing to be able to put into practice some of what He was teaching me.
The Lord is also teaching me more about His love and compassion. I think that sometimes I get an un-Biblical view of manliness... be "tough"... be "hard"... be "manly". Some of this is good and I believe God made us men to be tough physically, mentally, emotionally, and spiritually. However, He also calls us to be tenderhearted. This isn't a command just for women. This is a command for men. We were reading the other day during family devotions in Mark and it said that Jesus felt compassion for the people. Christ was not a weak man. He is the one that cleared the temple when it was being used for personal gain. But, He had compassion. Compassion along with the will of the Father drove His years of ministry. His death was compassion. I have so much to learn in this area, but I know that He is always at work and am so thankful for that.
God, I confess that I have not used the gift of words and the gift of humor to serve others as I ought. I have used them to discourage rather than encourage, to separate rather than unite. Forgive me. Make me an encourager. Give me opportunities to build up others in Christ. Grant wisdom in my words and actions so that I use Your gift of humor to honor You and bring joy. I ask that You would build me up in patience for others... that I would see Your work in them and be able to tenderly lead them to press forward in their obedience to You. Give me humility and freedom from the fear of man that I would not be afraid to associate with the lowly like Your Son modeled for us. Give me compassion for the hurting. I am overwhelmed by my deficiencies, Lord. I know that even my righteousness is only because You put within me the heart to be obedient. God, I have no good on my own. Thank You for Christ. I ask that You would grant joy in obedience and submission to Your ways. God, I am so thankful that You cannot dwell with darkness. By Your grace, shine the light of the knowledge of Christ into the deepest and darkest corners of my heart that all darkness would flee and that Christ would reign without any resistance. God, I love You, though not as much as I should. Help me to love You more. Make me more like Your Son. Amen.