And if another believer is distressed by what you eat, you are not acting in love if you eat it. Don’t let your eating ruin someone for whom Christ died. Then you will not be criticized for doing something you believe is good. For the Kingdom of God is not a matter of what we eat or drink, but of living a life of goodness and peace and joy in the Holy Spirit. If you serve Christ with this attitude, you will please God, and others will approve of you, too. So then, let us aim for harmony in the church and try to build each other up. Romans 14:15-19
Dear brothers and sisters, I close my letter with these last words: Be joyful. Grow to maturity. Encourage each other. Live in harmony and peace. Then the God of love and peace will be with you. Greet each other with a sacred kiss. All of God’s people here send you their greetings. May the grace of the Lord Jesus Christ, the love of God, and the fellowship of the Holy Spirit be with you all. 2 Corinthians 13:11-14
Today we come to the last of our devotionals for this week that follow up on Pastor Ben's message and help us go further in our response to what God is seeking to accomplish in the "relationships" of our lives. Earlier this week we considered the illustration of the mountain goats. We are going to use one of the ingredients from that story to help us wrap up the week. The ingredient is the "ledge." The ledge represents where we are headed, the goals and objectives we are pursuing, and all the steps that contribute to our getting to where we want to be.
When we are in charge of our "wills" we get wrapped up in where we are headed to such an extent that everything we encounter along the way becomes either an obstacle to overcome or a resource for moving us further along. Our relationships are in trouble when we treat the people in our lives as obstacles to overcome or resouces to use. When our wills our surrendered to God, he will transform into people who value relationships more than tasks. We still have a journey we are on but the people we encounter along the way become more important than getting to where we are headed.
As we grow in our ability to approach life in this way we will be surprised at how infrequently "ledges" show up in our journey. Most of the time we will be on paths with ample room for us and the other people in our lives. When we do find ourselves out on a ledge with someone else, it will be the result of either the other person being wrapped up in where they are headed rather than in relationships or because we have had a relapse ourselves. The need of the moment will be for us to yield by "laying ourselves down" for the person with whom we are at an impasse.
The Romans passage above speaks to our need to value relationships with people over the things of our lives. You will need to read the entire passage to understand the problem of putting food over people. (It has to do with a person having the freedom and right to eat meat sacrificed to idols and doing so even when it causes a brother or sister to stumble whose faith is not as strong). The passage shows what happens when we value relationships properly and helps us get relationships right: when we value relationship properly, we are "acting in love," we are aligned with "the kingdom of God," we "Serve Christ with this attitude," we "aim for harmony," and we "build each other up." The 2 Corinthians passage paints the picture of what it looks like when people value their "relationships" with each other above all else.
Lord, I am learning that the journey I am on is really about my relationships. I pray fervently that you will strength my relationship with you. May my heart be so filled with your love that I love you fully. May my heart be filled to overflowing with your love so that it pours out into the lives of others. Forgive me for all the times people have merely been obstacles to overcome or resources to use. Deliver me from self love and the pursuit of my own will for my life. Help me to live fully for you and others (I get it - wow!)
Posted on Sat, April 25, 2015
by Alan Porter