Tuesday, December 12, 2006

For the Sake of Others

Ephesians 3:1-2 "For this reason I, Paul, the prisoner of Christ Jesus for the sake of you Gentiles— Surely you have heard about the administration of God's grace that was given to me for you..."

Notice what Paul says here. He was a prisoner for the sake of others. God's grace was given to him for others. The next verse makes clear that Paul had received revelations from God, not for his own personal "edification", but for the sake of other people.

Colossians 1:28-29 "We proclaim him, admonishing and teaching everyone with all wisdom, so that we may present everyone perfect in Christ. To this end I labor, struggling with all his energy, which so powerfully works in me."

Do you want "his energy" to "powerfully work" in you? WHY do you want this? Is it for yourself or for others? Is it so that you can labor and struggle to present others perfect in Christ or so that you yourself can be perfect in Christ?

Let this mind be in you that was also in Christ: he made himself of no reputation, he emptied himself, and obeyed God fully and completely, not thinking of himself, "not my will". As we live a life this way, we will find ourselves struggling and laboring for the spiritual well-being of others.

So, if you think you are abounding in the "grace" of God perhaps I could ask you a question. Just like Paul, can you look at your life and say, "God's grace is given to me for the benefit of these people, ______." If not, you are severely limiting what God wants to do in you.

This is not merely "theoretical". Paul had specific, concrete, tangible things that he did and said. Any onlooker would verify that Paul used his "gifts" for others. It was not just a theoretical statement that was "technically" true. He literally labored and struggled in very practical ways. So, please, don't just nod your head and agree that the gifts of God that you have are for others. Look for the practical lifestyle that Paul surely had. Look at the practical ways that Jesus laid down his life every day for his disciples. Is your life FULL of such practical examples?

If not, consider this writing as something to "provoke you to love and good works" (Heb. 10:24). Don't receive his grace in vain. Rather, join with him in accomplishing his purposes for your life. :-)