Follow Up

August 24, 2015

Follow Up



Just a follow up to the And Be Thankful post...I don't want to be misconstrued as someone who promotes not working. I write often about Jesus telling us not to worry about our basic sustenance because he said he would provide. But Jesus still worked as a carpenter (or stone-mason, some believe) in addition to his ministry. Paul was a tent-maker and made his living as such, somehow finding the time to be a revolutionary missionary, teacher and writer (and I can barely find the time to exercise). He wrote the following to his protege Timothy:
Endure hardship with us like a good soldier of Christ Jesus. No one serving as a soldier gets involved in civilian affairs -- he wants to please his commanding officer. Similarly, if anyone competes as an athlete, he does not receive the victor's crown unless he competes according to the rules. The hardworking farmer should be the first to receive a share of the crops. Reflect on what I am saying, for the Lord will give you insight into all this. (2 Timothy 2:3-7)
Paul gives three examples of focused effort with a goal/ reward in mind. A soldier remains focused on military endeavors and gains the approval of his commander. An athlete competes according to the rules of his or her game (for to do otherwise would mean disqualification, just as a soldier working as a civilian counts for nothing in the military realm) to gain glory. A farmer works hard and is the first to receive sustenance from his labors. Approval, glory and sustenance...are these not all things we are promised from God? (2 Tim. 2:15Rom. 8:17Psalm 34:10)
In 1 Corinthians 9:24-27, Paul again uses the athlete example to encourage focused effort. In verse 27 he writes, "I beat my body and make it my slave so that after I have preached to others, I myself will not be disqualified for the prize." The prize being, in his example, a "crown that will last forever." This is not a message of laziness or lethargy, but rather diligent and intentional effort. Far too often we are lazy about our faiths, but Paul seems to indicate that there is danger of not making the cut, being disqualified for the crown! Whether or not that's the case, I do not know, but that's not the point -- run like you mean it, to win, as if there is only one winner and you want to be that person -- treat our faith that way; that's the point.
And just to nail it in, Paul does not expound on his words and thus provide an easy explanation of what he really means, but charges Timothy to reflect on them. He won't even let his readers be lazy about his teaching! Rather, he requires them to go to the Lord for understanding, expending effort to gain knowledge.
So my point in this post and the one previously mentioned, is not to shed responsibility or avoid working because God said He will take care of us, but rather to focus our work on things that matter: pursuing God's kingdom and righteousness. What that means for you as an officer worker, producer, engineer, writer...that's up to you and God. I'm just writing that we need to examine what our life's focus is and make sure it aligns with what we're commanded in scripture.
...pursue righteousness, faith, love and peace, along with those who call on the Lord out of a pure heart. (2 Timothy 2:22b)

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