Every once in a while we find ourselves stuck.
My aunt, who is 80 and a widow, recently went after her trash can which had blown into the adjoining field. There was a lot of rain with the wind and the field was muddy; a lot muddier than she anticipated. Her feet got stuck in the muck and she lost her balance and her shoes came off as she fell. Covered in mud, carrying her shoes and dragging her trash can, she made her way back to the house. Must’ve been quite a sight.
When she called and told me what happened she described the mud as if it had a personality and tried to capture her – especially her shoes and feet. She laughed and I laughed with her – but being stuck in the muck really isn’t funny.
It would be too easy to just sit down in the mud right now; it seems as if we’re surrounded by the “muck” of bombings, train wrecks, tornados, destruction, and disaster.
Our human nature compels us to “take action,” to attempt to explain the evil, give reasons for the destruction, and claim God’s judgment for sin. Instead, it is our responsibility to “be careful how we live” and “be filled with the Spirit.” It takes a great deal of self-control and self discipline to avoid getting stuck in the muck of this world.
Paul writes this to the church at Ephesus: “Be very careful, then, how you live—not as unwise but as wise, making the most of every opportunity, because the days are evil.” (Ephesians 5:15-16)
“Paul calls for a dual imperative: ‘Be very careful how you live’ and ‘Be filled with the Spirit.’ The responsibility for being wise and making the most of every opportunity, because the days are evil, belongs to the believer.”
“Any form of spirituality that makes the Christian feel less responsible and separates the experience of the Spirit from personal discipline, determination, and diligence is foreign to the apostle Paul. To be filled with the Spirit causes the believer to embrace the challenge of ordinary life, not avoid it.” (Webster: The Christ Letter, p137-138)
We are not responsible to explain why a tornado wipes out an elementary school and erases a subdivision; we are to “be filled with the Spirit.” Such a filling enables us to step into the suffering with those who have lost, to give sacrificially, to pray, to love others in the name of Jesus.
It would be all too easy to just sit down in the mud and feel sorry for ourselves; allowing the muck of all the world’s disasters to suck us in. But let’s make sure our focus, our attention; our hearts are centered in Christ. “Instead, be filled with the Spirit, speaking to one another with psalms, hymns, and songs from the Spirit. Sing and make music from your heart to the Lord, always giving thanks to God the Father for everything, in the name of our Lord Jesus Christ.” Ephesians (5:19-20)
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I highly encourage you to direct monetary gifts to Convoy of Hope, a relief and disaster ministry out of Springfield, MO.
2 thoughts on “Discipline, Determination, and Diligence”
Jim …. this is one of the best you have ever ever written… keep up the good work.
Thanks Jim for this insight on how we are to respond to both disaster and evil.