My Musings – Lest we think that being more righteous than most, or that our “righteous” acts will outweigh the rest, and will be sufficient to gain us entry to Heaven, this verse assures us that these will not save us. It is not because of our righteousness, it is in spite of our unrighteousness. If not for God’s mercy, there would be no salvation for anyone. Furthermore, mercy is not an obligation (as if we earned it), it is wholly unmerited, and undeserving.
My Advice – Seek His mercy, because you cannot achieve salvation any other way.
My Musings – So, if God did not give us a spirit of timidity, where did it come from? If He gave us a spirit of power, why does the timidity win out so often? Satan is the master of deception, convincing us of what we cannot do, when he knows very well the power that is within. A power that he does not want unleashed.
My Advice – Listen to the Spirit of the Lord, and turn a deaf ear to the spirit of the enemy. Unleash the power, but do so in love and self-discipline.
My Musings – Can one be Godly without being content? Or, content (really content) without being Godly? I cannot imagine the first, and find it hard to imagine the second. Paul measured his contentment by being satisfied with the bare necessities of life, food and clothing. Apparently he modeled his contentment after the Master (who owned no place to lay His head), as he did not even list a place to stay as a requirement.
Why would Paul be content with Godliness? Food, clothing, possessions – we’ll leave this world with none of these. Godliness, character, fruits of the Spirit – they’ll come along for the ride. These are treasures to “lay up” for ourselves. Treasures in “clay jars.“
My Advice – What are you working for? Will it bring contentment? Or once you have it will you find yourself asking “is that all there is?” Don’t become addicted to “things,” that only leave you craving your next “fix.” Pursue the only way to Godliness with content – a relationship with Jesus Christ.
My Musings – A wise former pastor of mine (now with the Lord) once said, “when you read the word therefore, you need to see what it’s there for.” Paul had just recounted the life we used to walk (anger, rage, malice, slander, and filthy language, to name a few), “since [we] have taken off [our] old self with its practices and have put on the new self.” That’s what it’s there for. A change of clothes. From the “filthy rags” mentioned above, to the renewed wardrobe that is “in the image of its Creator” woven out of “compassion, kindness, humility, gentleness, and patience.“
My Advice – We are chosen and dearly loved. “Therefore,” “over all these virtues put on love, which binds them all together in perfect unity.” That’s what we’re here for.
My Musings – Like most “sound bites” from the Scriptures it is important that this verse be read in context so we do not read into “do everything,” what was not intended. Paul has just finished saying that he has learned the secret of being content whatever the circumstances (and boy has he been through plenty of circumstances), whether in need or in plenty. What Paul is actually saying is that he has strength to face all these things, through Christ who provides the strength. Elsewhere, Paul recounts being told by Christ that His grace is sufficient.
My Advice – This is not just a Paul thing. God’s grace is sufficient for all of us no matter what the circumstances. The problem is, we frequently do not draw the strength from Him, preferring to tackle things on our own. Draw from His strength. The “well” never runs dry.
My Musings – There once was a time, at least in the Western world, that people almost universally accepted that Christianity was the only true path to God, whether they took that path or not. Today, this is no longer universally accepted even within “Christian” circles. Outside Christian circles this premise is becoming more and more contemptible. These three “scenarios” (see below) are being played out like a shell game. But it’s anything but a game.
You’re Okay, I’m Not Okay – Your path to God looks like the right path to me and I’m on the wrong path.
You’re Okay, I’m Okay – Your path to God might be okay for you, but that doesn’t make my path wrong.
You’re Not Okay, Saying I’m Not Okay – Your insistence that you are on the right path to God and I am on the wrong path is arrogant, intolerant and hateful.
The reality is: that Christianity has always been the only true path to God or it never was. The reality is: that other paths to God have always existed or they do not exist now. The reality is: if other paths to God exist, then Christianity is not one of them – because Christ said He was the only path (John 14:6). The reality is: that it is up to us to decide what we believe (who we believe in). Some would have you believe that the reality is that there is no wrong answer here. The reality is: do you really want to bet your (eternal) life on it?
My Advice – Eternal security is not determined by the democratic process. The majority view is only right if it is right, not because most people believe it is right (or not). Stakes are too high to just go along with the crowd. Being politically correct is an insufficient justification in the life to come, one must be absolutely correct. You owe it to yourself to investigate these “truth claims” very carefully, then to choose wisely. The “pea” of truth is only under one of these shells.
My Musings – “People primarily respond not to what we do but how we’re being. It’s not that we do the wrong thing necessarily, but that we do what we do – maybe even if it is the ‘right’ thing – the wrong way.” (Leadership and Self-Deception, The Arbinger Institute).
My great fear for the Church today is that a lot of us spend a lot of time and energy “doing” Christianity, while failing to “be” Christ-like. We pride ourselves with saying, supporting and doing the right things (the modern-day equivalent of a tenth of our mint, dill and cumin), but neglect to be those things (the all-time equivalent of, “justice, mercy and sacrifice“). In the process, we are well on our way to alienating an entire generation from “the Way, the Truth and the Life.” Given the appropriate “salt and light” there are many who would love to “be” like Christ, but are afraid of “doing” like “Christians.” But unfortunately, the “salt” in many of us leaves a bad taste, and the “light” shining from us artificial and not a true reflection of its Source.
My Advice – There is nothing wrong with saying, supporting and doing the right things. But we must practice these without neglecting “justice, mercy and sacrifice.” Otherwise, we are merely a “resounding gong or a clanging cymbal.” Distracting noise and “fake news” in a world searching for the truth. Woe to us, the elephant in the room that no one wants to acknowledge.
Don’t just do, be. People still might not acknowledge the truth, but what they are rejecting will be plain.