Last Sunday we gathered round the table. We prayed. We started to check in with the homework; the homework which had us seeking to outdo others in showing honor (or showing love) and also seeing where (or what) we heard that had encouraged us to live out what scripture invites us to do.
There was the naming of poetry and of music. And a recognition that (secular) poetry had been telling the story of scripture in different words, and with words that were not rejected even when the person reading them was not following Christ. This is an important note, how words and songs (and aren’t songs essentially poems set to music?) have the power to speak and to reach even those who might not know Christ; who might not have learned how much God loves them; these words can share the grace of God and the love of Christ in beautiful ways. (AMEN!)
And there was an important mention too about how if we are seeking to outdo others in showing honor (or love) and we think we do it correctly – that doesn’t seem to be the point…the whole “I’m so humble” mentality and being proud of it. However, I wonder two things. First, would it be so bad if what we were competitive about was outdoing each other in showing love and honor to one another? Would that really be all that terrible? And second, don’t we sometimes seek to outdo others in showing love and honor but in ways that do not feel competitive at all? An example being, wanting to surprise or spoil someone (maybe a friend, a family member, even a stranger); maybe you see them having a terrible day, or they’ve gone through something rough, or you just want to treat them for some other reason — and you don’t do it so that you get the spotlight, or that you can boast about it — but your heart is to shower them in an extraordinary way….and isn’t that what God has done for each of us in so many different ways? (Gifted us with an extravagant grace….like the Prodigal Father running toward the son who has returned?)
But let’s be honest. It’s hard to show love and honor to others at times. And so, we turned to the same area of scripture again to listen. We heard Romans 12:1,9-13 read. You’ll note that the 2 verses from last week (Rom. 12:9-10) were included again in the reading. We mentioned that many of these seem to be the practical ways we live our faith. In fact, it might be that the way we can offer ourselves (our bodies) as a living sacrifice to God is to actually do these practical ways that we can live out our faith. But does practical always mean “easy” dare I say….not at all.
Which (of course?) leads to the homework for this week. To think on all these things (Rom. 12:1,9-13) and the list of actions named. This list will sound a bit different depending on which translation of the Bible you happen to be reading. But — reflect on all of them, and (get excited!) consider which one you are WORST at! Yes, which one of these is the HARDEST for you to do? (Is it keeping spiritual fervor, being patient in affliction, sharing with others who are in need, practicing hospitality, being faithful in prayer, being joyful in hope, never lacking in zeal, presenting all of yourself as a living sacrifice?) Which one of the actions is hardest for you. And then — once that is identified, pray and ask the Holy Spirit to reveal why this one is hard (and listen to what is revealed). And finally, ask God to help you be open and to continue growing you in this area so that someone might be blessed by God through you!
So — to recap, reflect on Rom. 12:1,9–13 — consider the list of actions — determine which you are the WORST at — pray for revelation as to why & pray for God to work through you in this area!
Blessings y’all in the reflection and prayer. And I’m looking forward to seeing you Sunday.
In Christ ~
Rev. Sabrina Slater
This is a little excerpt from “My Utmost for His Highest” which seems appropriate as we consider the homework for the week…
“Our tendency today is to put the emphasis on service…It is the work that God does through us that counts, not what we do for Him.”