Tuesday, May 18, 2010

Give It Up

I've been working hard lately on trying to teach my kids respect for others and showing love. If you ask my 5 or 7 year old my rules about respect they will tell you the 3 P's - Respect for Parents, Respect for other People, and Respect for Property. However getting them to live out these principles is a lot harder than remembering them!

I want to instill in them things like giving up their seats for older people, opening doors for others, speaking kindly, making eye contact, responding to greetings, not reacting in anger, and giving up the right to have the biggest piece, the first place, the best prize.

I was reading through Ephesians and these verses helped to draw all that together and bring it home.

"Do not let any unwholesome talk come out of your mouths, but only what is helpful for building others up according to their needs, that it may benefit those who listen. And do not grieve the Holy Spirit of God, with whom you were sealed for the day of redemption. Get rid of all bitterness, rage and anger, brawling and slander, along with every form of malice. Be kind and compassionate to one another, forgiving each other, just as in Christ God forgave you. Be imitators of God, therefore, as dearly loved children and live a life of love, just as Christ loved us and gave himself up for us as a fragrant offering and sacrifice to God."
(Ephesians 4:29-5:2)

Instead of words that build others up, I had been exhibiting a bit too much of the unwholesome variety. Not looking to others needs but my own. Not characterised by kindness and compassion. Not imitating God but imitating others. Not giving myself up, but living for myself. I don't think most people would have noticed, it was a slow change. I was busy, tired and getting a little run down. But instead of reaching for the Spring of Living Water, I went into drought conservation mode.

But looking to yourself only makes things worse. It harbours bitterness, promotes anger, encourages brawling, and lets slip slander. Soon you don't even notice the needs of others because you are so caught up in yourself and expending all your energy trying to make yourself feel good again. It's a lost cause. No amount of water conservation is going to bring life to our land, we need God to send rain. And no amount of effort on our part will quench the thirst within that only God can fill.

We don't have to 'hope' and 'wait' for God to refresh us and fill us with his life giving water, all we have to do is contained, almost hidden, in those verses and is like turning on a tap to our parched souls. Look at the 'just as' phrases: '..just as Christ forgave you.' '..just as Christ loved us and gave himself up for us..'.

When we recognise what God did for us in Jesus - dying for us so that our sin is paid for and we can be reconciled to God, and when we dwell on that love and that sacrifice and allow the truth of that to truly sink in, we are transformed from the inside.

Because God has forgiven me, I forgive others. Because God loves me, I look to the needs of others. Because Jesus gave himself up for me, I will give up my 'rights' for others.

And when THAT is my focus, I have more joy, more peace and more passion than ever before.

It doesn't make sense that giving up our right to ourselves will set us free, but it does. It doesn't make sense that giving up our striving will give us peace, but it does. And it doesn't make sense that giving up our heart will give us life, but it is the greatest change you will ever experience.

You just have to give it up.

my email

2 comments:

Ginger said...

And the church said amen, and amen!!

Rena said...

Oh don't I know it! Hectic, busy life will lead us to this scenario if we aren't careful.

And honestly, I haven't been careful.

Great post!! I can always count on being filled here when I am thirsty!
;)