Thinking deeply. Working diligently. Loving fervently. Chances are that you naturally lean more towards one of these three than the others. We are all hardwired uniquely by God, and that wiring from Him suits His purposes for our lives. Some of you have been granted patient minds that often desire to understand the ‘why’ behind the ‘what’. Others of you sense that God created you to be a person of action who gets things done. Still others reading today have been graced of God to compassionately connect in love with their fellow humans. There is no right or wrong in this list. All three of these temperaments are valid and I suggest that we need to cultivate hearts which pursue greater depth in all three areas. Let’s hone in for a moment on all three today.
We live in a world that is no longer conducive to deep reflection. Noise abounds in our generation and we find ourselves surrounded by a plethora of sources which may distract us. Phone calls, emails, texts, social media and the frenetic pace of life in the 21st century do not lend themselves to deep thinking. It is likely that you sense yourself being stretched wider but not growing proportionately deeper. As we close out another calendar year, I want to encourage you to discipline your life to assure that, each day, there is opportunity for you to think on the most important things. Your faith in Christ warrants your lingering consideration – by the way, how are you and your Lord these days? Prayer and scripture meditation are still essential. Also, the most important people in your life should be the objects of your deeper thoughts. They need you to prioritize them. Consider that it is time for you to place higher emphasis on your thought life in the new year. The quality of your life runs no higher than what owns your mind. Daily surrender it to Christ.
It’s important to balance out our minds’ reflecting with our bodies’ responding. Friends, there is a danger that your faith might end up only being theoretical if all you ever do is think. Pondering must result in practice, doctrine into duty, wisdom into work. The book which follows John’s Gospel in our bibles is the book of ACTS – not the book of Intentions. The Holy Spirit empowers Christians not only to be but, clearly, to do. The Great Commission is not accomplished in conference rooms, bible studies or theological debate halls. We are commissioned of Christ to endeavor to make disciples unto Him as we daily live out our lives. I think it is entirely healthy to consider from time to time if your life is making a difference. Let there be a hole left in earth when you exit this place. In 2017, let’s not relegate this life-work to some form of religious Sunday activity. Let’s recognize that diligent work should characterize us in our homes, our schools, our careers, our relationships, and our ministries. Each of us needs to develop some life-callouses that come from living in a diligence of love’s labor.
If one of these three might take precedent over the other two, it is this third one. Loving fervently is essential because it comprises the essence of the greatest commandment. Jesus taught us that loving God and loving our fellow humans were the two greatest aims of our lives. You are to be a lover of God and man. For years I have asked God to grow me in this area because I am naturally hardwired to be a diligent worker and deep thinker more than a fervent lover. Yet, what good are my thoughts and what value do my works have if they are not bookended by love? Loving my family is easy, loving my opponent is not. Love calls you to deny yourself and prioritize the other person. Love seeks the highest good of those who may not, in our limited wisdom, deserve our highest good. Love forgives and pursues and enriches, seeking no reward of its own. Love patiently endures and believes the best about its object. Love weeps with the weepers and laughs with the laughers. Love is willing to listen and is not afraid to be quiet. Love carries the appointed cross and does not look to exchange it for a cushioned cross. Love trusts God implicitly, refusing to believe that there is something out there that is better than His will. Love is repentant and broken and vulnerable. Love is constantly humble and does not insist on its own way. Quite frankly, love is often very difficult. Especially when you realize that you have need to grown in this area.
Thinking deeply. Working diligently. Loving fervently. It looks like you and I have something to pursue in the year to come.
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