“Brothers, I could not address you as spiritual but as worldly – mere infants in Christ. I gave you milk, not solid food, for you were not yet ready for it. Indeed, you are still not ready. You are still worldly. For since there is jealousy and quarreling among you, are you not worldly? Are you not acting like mere men? For when one says, ‘I follow Paul,’ and another, ‘I follow Apollos,’ are you not mere men?” (1 Corinthians 3:1-4 NIV).
I visited a congregation in southwestern Bangladesh and on the way back out, near dark, the Banglas who were with me had me sit in the back seat, surrounded and mostly hidden, by them. After a few miles they stopped and I was able to get back in the front passenger seat where I usually ride. When I asked them why the “musical chairs” they replied, “That is an area notorious for robbers; we did not want them to see you and think we were a good target.” Continue reading “Are we worldly?”
Parents usually give their youngsters tasks around the house called, “chores.” Those little jobs help teach responsibility. Children are also expected to complete their homework each day. Both are important things for kids to remember.
In college, students learn to make reading and studying priorities for successful college life. When the students become adults, there are work and social priorities.
The Guardian newspaper ran a story about the rampant boredom people feel in our age. /1 We’ve changed as a result of technology and it isn’t for the better.
With the internet, games and smartphones at our fingertips, one would think boredom would be obsolete. Earlier generations would be mystified at being bored while on something as grand as the internet.
It’s certainly inconceivable to many of us who have books to fill our time. Bookworms are never bored.
Several days in bed from sickness tests anyone’s patience. However, our bodies can’t be productive when they’re broken down. We need fluids, rest and medicine to get better.
When we become sick physically we exhibit various symptoms such as pain, discomfort, headache or nausea. Faced with a decision, we decide whether to fight or to ignore the problem. Continue reading “In bed sick, physically”
God sought “true worshipers [who would] worship the Father in spirit and truth” because “God is Spirit” (John 4:23-24, NKJV). The connection with God must be made in the spiritual domain. Accordingly, we must be born of the spirit (John 4:24).
The idiom “Nature abhors a vacuum” expresses the idea that unfilled spaces in nature will be filled with something. Spiritually, there is no difference. We will either live a spiritual or a fleshly life.
The room was brightly lit with white walls. Yet, two spots were more vivid than anything else. Damage to the paint had allowed old blue wallpaper to shine through the paint. The old had overcome the new and was obscuring the beauty of the space.
As Christians, we’re supposed to be transformed by the gospel (Romans 12:1-2). Our thinking, behavior and perceptions must be trained by the Word of God, so we can glorify Christ (Ephesians 3:20-4:1). Continue reading “When the old bleeds through”
In the transformation process, we use what God has given us to develop a spiritual mindset (Romans 12:1-2). A large part of this is learning how to think properly.
All we once knew must be filtered through a new perspective. A heavenly view of the world comes only through a humble and diligent study of Scripture. The flesh is a liar and all its fruit must be thrown away.
Human thought fails when we act instinctually instead of spiritually and intellectually. God gave humans an advanced intellect for a reason.
The weak-minded lump half-baked ideas and biases together and leap into action. The strong hesitate and analyze. We take what God taught us and treat ideas as God recommends.
The humble, spiritual person will take the time to learn and listen (Luke 8:18). We must slow down and take a measured approach because words and ideas have eternal consequences (Romans 10:17).
John Stott describes the process of breaking down a passage for a sermon as cracking it open with a golden hammer and examining the individual pieces before putting it back together again. His exemplary point is also true of ideas.
Each idea comes with a match, some smaller and some larger. In the proper brush, they can start a fire very easily. As Christians, we should want to be positive influences. That means we must be careful how we handle information and ideas.
First, this process requires that we gain control over our emotions because anger sabotages higher thought (James 3:1-6). Our spiritual minds must take precedence over the emotional.
Second, this process requires that we learn as much as we can about human nature so we can know how to help them find Christ (Matthew 28:18-20; 1 Peter 3:15).
Third, this process requires that we realize that higher thought comes from nuance. The lazy mind allows insecurities and emotion to outdistance wisdom and logic. We lump everyone and everything together and create a mass of faulty conclusions and hurt feelings.
In John 15, Jesus tells the Apostles that the world hates them but they shouldn’t take that personally. He asks them to move past their fleshly instincts and realize that the world hates them because they hated Jesus before the Apostles came along (John 15:18-24).
Our emotions cry out, “People hate the Bible!” or “People hate Jesus!” and we dismiss everyone with a wave of the hand.
Taking that idea apart, we realize that people do not hate Jesus or the Bible. That’s too simplistic. If God, Jesus and the Bible didn’t demand that we live by a moral standard or make eternal decisions, people would find the Bible and God harmless.
They hate being told that their thinking and lifestyles need to be changed.
The flesh and the spiritual are diametrically opposed so we should never be surprised that their thinking differs as well. When we learn to think properly, we surge ahead of our peers and begin to think like God desires.
Faulty thinking means that we always see the world in an overly simplistic way. When we learn to think properly, we break things down and realize that problems are often easier to fix than we previously realized. In fact, it was our thinking that was broken all along.
Most Christians seem to have a vague concept of what it means to mature spiritually. The Lord’s Church needs more teaching on the subject so brethren can have a goal to attain.
When we mature spiritually, we are banishing darkness and filling the holes with light (1 John 1:5). We are being re-trained by God’s Word to think spiritually instead of in a human, fleshly sense.
Walking in Christ requires that we learn a completely new way to live, talk, think and see the world. Paul calls it “transformation,” where we go from a chrysalis to the wing (Romans 12:1-2). We remain on earth, but our home and heart is moved to heaven (Philippians 3:20).
In Philippians, Paul is incarcerated but he is consumed with love, joy and prayer. His unbridled passion for Christ transcends time and place.
He longs for heaven but he is shackled to earth (Philippians 1:21-25). Nevertheless, he will remain busy with the spreading of the gospel (Ephesians 3:20-21).
Paul tells the Philippians that he is praying for them that they will grow in love, knowledge and discernment. By his life, he makes it clear that we can add prayer to that list (Romans 1:9; 1 Corinthians 1:4; Ephesians 1:16; Colossians 1:3; 1 Thessalonians 1:2; 5:17; 2 Timothy 1:3).
Paul’s message is that we are to be maturing spiritually. Paul overcame his imprisonment by relying completely on the tools of faith (Ephesians 6:10-17).
Spiritual excellence is not a concept we hear much about, but it is Biblical (Philippians 1:10). Walking in Christ, we strive to be the best we can by the grace and mercy of God (Ephesians 4:1; 2:8-9). We never settle for weakness and failure again (Ephesians 4:17-19).
Excellence must be applied to everything. We seek excellence in love, joy, knowledge and discernment, as Paul has made clear. Accordingly, we make better spiritual decisions because knowledge and discernment have taught us a better way (cf. Galatians 1:6-9).
Moreover, as we mature spiritually, we must allow excellence to touch our prayers, as well.
As we grow in faith and knowledge, have our prayers followed?
Do we still pray as a child?
Should our prayers not reflect the maturity of our faith?
Maybe we have never given that any thought. My prayer is that we will do so and that in our conversations with God, we will never stop growing. Excellence must have a place in our prayer life, as well.