Tag Archives: purpose

Making Trouble

There are many ways of causing trouble, but ultimately they all lead to one thing – upset and hurt.

Paul is writing to the Galatians.  No sooner had they heard about Jesus and begun to follow him, than arguments were breaking out about what was and wasn’t a necessary part of the Christian life and faith.

Galatians 1:1-12

1-2 From the apostle Paul and from all the Lord’s followers with me.

I was chosen to be an apostle by Jesus Christ and by God the Father, who raised him from death. No mere human chose or appointed me to this work.

To the churches in Galatia.

I pray that God the Father and our Lord Jesus Christ will be kind to you and will bless you with peace! Christ obeyed God our Father and gave himself as a sacrifice for our sins to rescue us from this evil world. God will be given glory forever and ever. Amen.

The Only True Message

I am shocked that you have so quickly turned from God, who chose you because of his wonderful kindness.You have believed another message, when there is really only one true message. But some people are causing you trouble and want to make you turn away from the good news about Christ. I pray that God will punish anyone who preaches anything different from our message to you! It doesn’t matter if that person is one of us or an angel from heaven. I have said it before, and I will say it again. I hope God will punish anyone who preaches anything different from what you have already believed.

10 I am not trying to please people. I want to please God. Do you think I am trying to please people? If I were doing that, I would not be a servant of Christ.

How Paul Became an Apostle

11 My friends, I want you to know that no one made up the message I preach. 12 It wasn’t given or taught to me by some mere human. My message came directly from Jesus Christ when he appeared to me.

Some were causing trouble.  Insisting there were “add-ons” to the gospel they had heard and received, altering what they thought they knew, trying to take them to a different place.

Now there is nothing wrong with healthy debate about what faith means and how it is lived out.  That is often how we learn and grow.  The problem comes when people start insisting on certain things, that are not core gospel principles, trying to force others to see and follow their point of view.  Of course there will always be matters of opinion on what constitutes the core gospel principles, but when Jesus was asked what was most important part of living God’s way, his reply was

36 “Teacher, what is the most important commandment in the Law?”

37 Jesus answered:

Love the Lord your God with all your heart, soul, and mind. 38 This is the first and most important commandment. 39 The second most important commandment is like this one. And it is, “Love others as much as you love yourself.” 40 All the Law of Moses and the Books of the Prophets are based on these two commandments. (Matthew 22:36-40)

Surely the basis of loving others is not causing trouble for them.  There is right and proper challenge, but there is also love and nurture.  And some things are more important than what I think.

In Romans, Paul says something very important,

The weak and the strong

14 Accept the one whose faith is weak, without quarrelling over disputable matters (Romans 14)

i.e., don’t cause trouble for others in their faith.

And so, I have to ask myself, are there things that I do or say that cause trouble for others?  Ways I behave?  Bold pronouncements that  make?  Judgements that are harsh, unfair or ill-informed?  Do I say things that would better be left unsaid?  Or not say things that I should?

Forgive me Lord
the times that I have said and done
stupid things,
harmful things,
words and deeds
that have hurt
and caused others to struggle
or even turned them away from you.

May I always remember love
– your love
to me
and to everyone.
may my actions
point people to you,
not turn them from you

Living Wisely

So wisdom seems to be a bit of an ongoing theme (which shows the lectionary is not just thrown together, but building blocks).

The description of this picture is, Wisdom, mural by Robert Lewis Reid. “KNOWLEDGE COMES BUT WISDOM LINGERS”.

Whilst, wisdom is defined as,

a deep understanding and realization of people, things, events or situations, resulting in the ability to apply perceptions, judgements and actions in keeping with this understanding.

Wisdom is a true understanding, something like I suppose common sense, but with added layers.  It is a depth of knowing what is sensible and right, and acting on it.

James 3:13-4:3,7-8a

Two kinds of wisdom

13 Who is wise and understanding among you? Let them show it by their good life, by deeds done in the humility that comes from wisdom. 14 But if you harbour bitter envy and selfish ambition in your hearts, do not boast about it or deny the truth. 15 Such ‘wisdom’ does not come down from heaven but is earthly, unspiritual, demonic. 16 For where you have envy and selfish ambition, there you find disorder and every evil practice.

17 But the wisdom that comes from heaven is first of all pure; then peace-loving, considerate, submissive, full of mercy and good fruit, impartial and sincere. 18 Peacemakers who sow in peace reap a harvest of righteousness.

Submit yourselves to God

4 What causes fights and quarrels among you? Don’t they come from your desires that battle within you? You desire but do not have, so you kill. You covet but you cannot get what you want, so you quarrel and fight. You do not have because you do not ask God. When you ask, you do not receive, because you ask with wrong motives, that you may spend what you get on your pleasures.

[4 You adulterous people, don’t you know that friendship with the world means enmity against God? Therefore, anyone who chooses to be a friend of the world becomes an enemy of God. Or do you think Scripture says without reason that he jealously longs for the spirit he has caused to dwell in us? But he gives us more grace. That is why Scripture says:

‘God opposes the proud
but shows favour to the humble.’]

Submit yourselves, then, to God. Resist the devil, and he will flee from you. Come near to God and he will come near to you. Wash your hands, you sinners, and purify your hearts, you double-minded.

Wisdom is not just something you have.  For wisdom to be purposeful, you have to do something with it – wisdom is seen.  Wisdom should lead to a life of not just knowing the right thing – but doing it.  So it should be seen in good deeds and humble actions.  True wisdom is not boastful, but pure,

peace-loving, considerate, submissive, full of mercy and good fruit, impartial and sincere. (3:17)

James then goes on to another way of living wisely.  Of knowing your limits and sticking to them.  How much struggle in the world comes from people wanting what they have not got?  More power, prestige, “things”, status?  We don’t take the time to ask God what we really need, but get caught up in jealousies and power games.  And that is when things get torn apart.

So how to live wisely, to focus on what we really need, to rest in God and his ways?

Let’s draw close to him, hear his voice, and live by that.

Lord,

I want to live in true wisdom,

I want to live for you,

and through you.

May I draw close to you,

draw my strength from you,

and make decisions

from that place