Practical Proverbial, from Philippians, 14 January 2020

Do everything without grumbling or arguing. Philippians 2:14. (EHV).

Here’s a tough one for me.   I like to debate and I like to argue.   I don’t like to be quarrelsome, and I don’t like not getting along with people.   But I like to talk in-depth about things like faith and politics and topics that are generally off-limits, especially if it’s with people with whom I disagree.   I’m a big believer in people talking it out and agreeing to disagree when, well, we don’t agree.   In fact, I respect people who stand up for what they believe in especially if it’s something with which I disagree.   Mind you, I’m not defending people who believe in the indefensible (things like murder, avarice, violence, etc).   I simply respect people who stand up for what they believe even if it’s something I don’t believe in.

Some people will lend you money, then grumble about doing it.   Some folks will offer to help you move your furniture, then complain about having to do it.   Some good people will itch for a fight even when they know that no good can come out of it.  Got skin?   Got sin.   My arguing, the money-grubber’s grumbling, the Indian-giver who says they’ll do one thing and then take it back later:  all sins.   All contrary to what Paul advises us to do in one way or another.

Instead, Paul reminds us to do EVERYTHING without those petty sins like arguing, grumbling or the like.   Not just work, not just Thanksgiving dinner with crazy Uncle Bernie (or Joe), not just getting along with your argumentative Facebook friend:   EVERYTHING.   Making dinner, cleaning the house, walking the dog, talking on the telephone, talking online, writing blogs, chatting in the narthex on Sunday morning:   EVERYTHING.   Do it all without arguing or complaining.

Yep:   that’s a tough one.   Here’s an idea:   let’s be tougher.   Let’s take up Christ’s light yoke and burden and do everything we do with His attitude.   Serving and serving thankfully; going the extra mile; forgiving when others fail us; giving up on revenge and gossip and getting even:   let’s work to infuse our words and actions today with the fruits of Galatians 5 and the words of Christ’s Gospels.

For me, that starts with watching what I say, online and in person.   I have a friend (with whom I almost always politically disagree) who seems to have an insatiable need to be right or have the last word.   Today I’ll let him.   Instead of being Eeyore the pessimist (someone my wife accuses me of being) I’ll keep quiet.   Rather than focusing on the negatives, I’ll say prayers of thanks for them and good things around them.   It’s about giving praise instead of criticism and thanks instead of something else.

For further reading:  1 Corinthians 10:10, Galatians 5:22-23, 1 Peter 4:9, Philippians 2:15

Lord Jesus, thank You for yet another opportunity to retrain my brain to better serve You.   Strengthen me to not grumble or complain or argue.

Practical Proverbial, from 1 Timothy, 13 February 2019

Those who want to get rich fall into temptation and a trap and into many foolish and harmful desires that plunge people into ruin and destruction.  1 Timothy 6:9 (NIV).

I prefer to stay on the positive side of this verse.   Those who know me well will find this surprising.   In fact, my wife calls me “Eeyore” because I usually look on the downside of things.   For Everyday Dave, this verse would be a great place to stop.  It’s a lighthouse, warning of rocks just up ahead near the shore.  We’ll probably mess it up anyway.

But that’s an outlook I want to change.  The verse IS a lighthouse, and it’s one that calls us safely home.   Lately, I’ve been daily contemplating Galatians 5, specifically the verses about the fruits of the Spirit.  I read the verses and then look for ways to put them into practice each day, one per month while compounding them.   January was love month; February is love and joy; March will be love, joy, and peace.   You get the idea.  If you haven’t ever really contemplated them, check out Galatians 5:22-23.

Then put them into action because they are the opposite of what Paul describes in verse 9.   And if you think about it, they are the things Paul could say ARE worthy of our attention instead of desire for money, or running into the traps and temptations that lead to ruin and destruction.   How many of us could avoid pitfalls of sin if we would simply find better things on which to focus?   Let’s keep our eyes on the ways Jesus acts, then watch how things begin to improve.

If we are always looking for ways to get ahead, we probably will miss some of the signs around us that point us to ways we can get involved in what Jesus is doing.   Just prior to this verse, Paul had reminded Timothy to be content with only what God provides for our most basic needs.   Anything more than contentment can run the risk of walking the proud walk down the yellow brick road of temptation.

“But the fruit of the Spirit is love, joy, peace, forbearance, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness and self-control. Against such things there is no law.”  Man, those are things worth showing off to the world.   They’re the antidote to swallowing too much desire to get rich.   When we talk about focusing on Jesus, a great way to start doing that is by focusing on ways we can let His Spirit remake us around these behaviors He exhibits.  If we do that, when temptations come, it becomes easier to turn from them.   That’s a wealth worth having.

Eeyore might just agree.

For further reading:   Galatians 5:22-23, Proverbs 15:27, Proverbs 28:20, 1 Timothy 6:10.

Magnificent Lord, I’m not always a good follower.   I’ve turned my attention away from You.   Thank You for not turning away from Me, and I ask You to remake me in the ways of Your Spirit today.