“Do everything without complaining and arguing, so that no one can criticize you. Live clean, innocent lives as children of God, shining like bright lights in a world full of crooked and perverse people.” ~Philippians 2:14-15 (NLT)
Samuel Clemens (aka Mark Twain) had many quotes about Christianity to include this infamous one. “If Christ were here now there is one thing He would not be—a Christian.” Then in his later years he would make this statement, “if our Maker is all-powerful for good or evil, He is not in His right mind.” I think one of the things that made our beloved writer of Tom Sawyer a bit off-base with YHVH was he was a Freemason. That may have knocked him off balance every once in a while. Maybe so much so that he even said, “Few things are harder to put up with than the annoyance of a good example.” That’s kinda harsh but let’s face it if someone is better at something you need to be it kinda gets under your skin…don’t it?
I think I’ll rest in what my boy Matt Henry said about the matter, “The children of God should differ from the sons of men. The more perverse others are, the more careful we should be to keep ourselves blameless and harmless.” And when we understand that Christ is our example we have to understand that if things aren’t balanced just right we may set up ourselves for failure. We have got three areas in our lives that Charles Swindoll (in his book “Laugh Again”) says are challenging areas that need to be kept in balance through Christ’s strength.
1. Balancing Purpose and Power: This has to do with our obedience to God. In Phil 2:12-13 we are told to work out our salvation with fear and trembling. But that doesn’t mean work hard to earn it, that is not the Apostle Paul is saying. What he is saying is by walking in obedience, as Christ did, you will build on the gift of eternal life that God has already given us. “And as we work out our salvation in this way, God will work in us, giving us the power to accomplish His will.”
2. Balancing Attitude and Action: This will put one thing to one side and the other thing to the other side. There is a sign that hangs in the Colony kitchen that simply reads, “Complaining is a sin.” To say this point blank…Jesus never did it. Keep that “‘tude” Christ-like (with a twist of humor to round it out) We need to be blameless, displaying a character that is free from defect. (Easy to write, I’ll admit, harder to display at times) We need to be inexperienced with evil or at best no longer involved with it. Then we need to be above reproach or at least no longer with fault. And don’t go hiding in a cave to keep this a sanitized
list in your life…you’re to be a light in the world, not a flickering amber in a cave.
3. Balancing Seriousness and Joy: There is nothing more serious to keep in mind than this, “Holding fast the word of life, so that in the day of Christ I may have cause to glory because I did not run in vain nor toil in vain.” (Phil 2:16) No one likes wasted effort and Paul was no different. His hope was that his life’s example contributed to the Philippians service to God, even if it meant his death. But in his seriousness he asks for joy, “And you too, I urge you, rejoice in the same way and share your joy with me.” (Phil 2:18) To quote Swindoll on the matter, “One of life’s pleasures is meeting godly people like Paul who enjoy living, who can be involved in the most serious of earthly tasks, yet maintain a sense of humor, a ready smile, and a contagious joy.”
I guess the thing that makes following Christs example difficult is “SELF”. My “SELF” likes to take charge and credit for all that good stuff I do (even being a Freedom Fighter writer) but I have to keep this in the fore front of my mind at all times, “For I myself was also once foolish, disobedient, deceived, serving various lusts and pleasures, living in malice and envy, hateful and hating others.” (Titus 3:3). Yes, I juggled a few words around but I need to take this personally. Jesus saved me from the punishment that comes with all this stuff, He didn’t have to either…He wanted to. It wasn’t that I need to be saved as much as it is about to be able to see Him in all the graces He provides in everyday life. In that there’s balance…Amen?
Written by Chris Hughes: Chris, a graduate of The Colony of Mercy (11-2003) is married with two adult children and serves on the Deacon Board at Trinity Alliance Church in Cologne NJ
The Daily Bible Reading: Psalm 14; Proverbs 15
Daily Quote: “Some attempt to follow Christ’s lofty example by faking it. They simply lip-sync the great virtues and doctrines of the Christian faith, focusing on image rather than substance. Others, perhaps most, frustrate themselves by intensifying their efforts and try harder to do life exactly as Christ did.”—Charles Swindoll
This Week’s Verse to Memorize:
11 He will feed His flock like a shepherd;
He will gather the lambs with His arm,
And carry them in His bosom,
And gently lead those who are with young. ~Isaiah 40:11