No Earthly Good

If then you have been raised with Christ, seek the things that are above, where Christ is, seated at the right hand of God. Set your minds on things that are above, not on things that are on the earth. For you have died, and your life is hidden with Christ in God. (Colossians 3:1-3)

The actual logic of Paul’s argumentation here would suggest that this passage begin with “SINCE you have been raised…”

Nonetheless, there is a sequential conditional element present here that must be considered: We died, we were raised, act like it.

I am still trying to learn what it means to “seek the things which are above;” to “seek first the kingdom of God…” (Matt. 6:33)

How do I “set my mind on things above” without coming across as a flake, or ‘super-spiritual?’ I have not been able to straddle the middle road that keeps me from being “so heavenly-minded that I am no earthly good.”

After years of trying–and discovering to my chagrin that I had become so earthly-minded that I was no heavenly good–I am about ready to give up trying. The only way I can be of any good to this realm is by way of the heavenly.

I see a world crushed under the weight of its current problems–economic, health, mental, social, and spiritual–and I see a Church poorly equipped to speak to these problems. I am a part of that Church.

My mind is on the things of the earth–poverty, sickness, disease, corruption, wickedness in every place. I see the devastation in Haiti, and am ashamed of the untimely and insensitive remarks of some of our church leaders.

“Is there no balm in Gilead? Is there no physician there? Why then has the health of the daughter of my people not been restored?” (Jeremiah 8:22)

I have failed in this. Maybe it is because I have not learned what it means to “put off…put on”, as Paul admonishes us in this chapter. I am to put off the deeds of the flesh, the things that I had no problem doing before I knew the Lord (or rather was known by Him). Thought I had done that. And then some ugly thing rears its head to let me know how far from His perfection I am.

I am to put on a compassionate heart, kindness and humility, meekness and patience (v.12). Thought I had done that. And then I find myself entertaining some judgmental thought toward someone when I have no idea the burdens they might be bearing, and I realize how far from His perfection I am.

The only reality I am left with is that “I have died, and my life is hidden with Christ in God.” When that fully penetrates my mind, maybe I will become a little more earthly good.

NOTE: This is the third in a weekly posting on the Epistle to the Colossians. I am not the only one who is writing on this book. There are others who will be posting something on their blog each day of the week. We are each bringing something that the Lord gives us from chapter three of the epistle. You will be greatly blessed and encouraged, and your heart will be filled if you will take the time to read each day’s posting from one of the other saints involved in this collective effort. Put the following link in your “favorites” or on your link bar at the top of your browser: http://www.philter48.com/bbs/ and make it a point to visit everyday.

Compassion, the sequel

John 5:2-9 ~ Now there is in Jerusalem by the Sheep Gate a pool, in Aramaic called Bethesda, which has five roofed colonnades. In these lay a multitude of invalids—blind, lame, and paralyzed. One man was there who had been an invalid for thirty-eight years. When Jesus saw him lying there and knew that he had already been there a long time, he said to him, “Do you want to be healed?” The sick man answered him, “Sir, I have no one to put me into the pool when the water is stirred up, and while I am going another steps down before me.” Jesus said to him, “Get up, take up your bed, and walk.” And at once the man was healed, and he took up his bed and walked.

I mentioned in a previous post that there is a difference between human and divine compassion. This passage illustrates that point for us.

Compassion is a feeling of deep sympathy and sorrow for another who is stricken by suffering or misfortune, accompanied by a strong desire to alleviate the pain or remove its cause. (Random House Dictionary)

As compassionate humans, we want everyone to be healed. You’ve probably heard something along the lines of, “Whenever we all come into the fullness of the Spirit we will go into the hospitals and get everybody healed!! Glory to God!!”

While that may seem to be a noble desire, is it in line with the will of God?

Sure, there are verses that would seem to indicate that it is God’s will for all to be healed. Yet, we each know from our own experience that (if nothing else) we are not walking in that reality.

Could it be that our compassion is human-based?

I’m not saying that it is wrong to have compassion. It is a necessary feeling. But, I do believe that like everything else, there is something higher,  more valuable and beneficial, more powerful than human anything.

When any of our gifts, talents, abilities, emotions are infused with spiritual reality, they become more powerful than a simply human trait (John 15:5).

However, many in this day are wanting more than to simply have the Spirit join them in their endeavors. These are the ones who, like Jesus, desire to only say and do what they see their Father do. They want the genesis of their efforts to be in Him and Him alone; not any part from their own strength.

With that in mind, let’s look once again at the passage before us.

There were a multitude of sick people at the Pool of Bethesda. Jesus could have healed them all. He didn’t.

He walked up to the one whom the Spirit directed, and healed him.

That is divine compassion in operation. That is divine compassion without the human element messing things up.

It requires that we learn to be led by the Spirit, not by our desires or emotions (Galatians 5:16; Romans 8:14).

NOTE: Writing the possible ramifications of this would be entirely too controversial, because each of us is on a different plane. Let the Spirit speak to you about the truth, or lack thereof, of these thoughts.

Compassion

I awoke this morning in awe at how the Lord is changing things in my heart.

A few decades ago, I had to ask the Lord for compassion. If He wanted me to be a pastor, then there was no way I could function with the hardness of heart I exhibited toward people. I operated from the standpoint of, “You made your bed. Now you have to lie in it.”

It broke my heart that my heart was in such condition.

Over the years that followed, I have seen the Lord’s work of grace in my heart, as compassion has been developed. It is not something that I have done, but a work of grace within me.

This past decade, He has been teaching me the difference between human and divine compassion–a lesson not easily learned. (I’ll not discuss the distinctions of each here. Maybe later.)

I’ve grown to have compassion on those whom I love, and those with whom I am related in business or socially.

But, this morning, I awoke with a burden on my heart for those I only know through the blogosphere. I’ve never met them. I do not know the sound of their voice.

I only know that they are hurting–and I was hurt by their pain.

For that I am grateful.

One is caught in the aftermath of an ice storm and has no power.

One has had his income severely curtailed and has to relocate.

One has a new job that changes the way things were done at home, and mutual support is now challenging.

One is dealing with marital betrayal.

One is dealing with a son who is having tremendous difficulty.

I awoke praying intensely for each of these–my friends whom I have never met–in a way that I’ve never prayed even for those oft-repeated ‘prayer requests’ for sickness and pain within the local assembly.

It is a new day for me. And I am thankful for the new work of the Holy Spirit in my life.

“Dense” (Blogged Bible Study)–John 16

Jn 16:18
They said therefore, What is this that he saith, A little while? we cannot tell what he saith.    KJV

Dense.

That is the only way to describe the ones whom Jesus chose.

It is evident in the different gospel accounts that the Master reached a frustration point with these guys more than once. This was not one of those times, however.

He knew He was at the end of His time with them, and that they had come as far as He was going to take them in His earthly ministry. His compassion for their thick-headedness was stirred as He promised to supply them with the help they would need.

Thank God we have been given the help we need.

I, too, am like one of those disciples. Oftentimes, I cannot tell what he saith.

I find myself in a certain situation, and I wonder, “What is this about?” I cannot tell what he saith.

I find myself reading a passage of the Bible, and I wonder, “What is this about?” I cannot tell what he saith.

I’m sure there are times when the Lord has reached a frustration point with me and said, “How long shall I be with you?” (Matt. 17:17)

Thankfully, His compassion is greater than His frustration; and I am once again shown how human I’ve been.

Yes, I can be quite dense at times. But the Comforter who has been sent, guides me (ever again) into the truth of who I am in Him. Then, I am able to see His great love and patience.

With what He does for me, why am I so slow to offer the same to others?

NOTE: There are others who have also written from John 17 this week. Drop by to hear “What the Spirit is saying to the church.” (Rev. 3:22)

The Spirit-led life vs. natural man continued

Col 3:1-15

3 Since you have been raised to new life with Christ, set your sights on the realities of heaven, where Christ sits in the place of honor at God’s right hand. 2 Think about the things of heaven, not the things of earth. 3 For you died to this life, and your real life is hidden with Christ in God. 4 And when Christ, who is your life, is revealed to the whole world, you will share in all his glory.

5 So put to death the sinful, earthly things lurking within you. Have nothing to do with sexual immorality, impurity, lust, and evil desires. Don’t be greedy, for a greedy person is an idolater, worshiping the things of this world. 6 Because of these sins, the anger of God is coming. 7 You used to do these things when your life was still part of this world. 8 But now is the time to get rid of anger, rage, malicious behavior, slander, and dirty language. 9 Don’t lie to each other, for you have stripped off your old sinful nature and all its wicked deeds. 10 Put on your new nature, and be renewed as you learn to know your Creator and become like him. 11 In this new life, it doesn’t matter if you are a Jew or a Gentile, circumcised or uncircumcised, barbaric, uncivilized, slave, or free. Christ is all that matters, and he lives in all of us.

12 Since God chose you to be the holy people he loves, you must clothe yourselves with tenderhearted mercy, kindness, humility, gentleness, and patience. 13 Make allowance for each other’s faults, and forgive anyone who offends you. Remember, the Lord forgave you, so you must forgive others. 14 Above all, clothe yourselves with love, which binds us all together in perfect harmony. 15 And let the peace that comes from Christ rule in your hearts. For as members of one body you are called to live in peace. And always be thankful. (author’s emphasis added)
Holy Bible, New Living Translation ®, copyright © 1996, 2004 by Tyndale Charitable Trust. Used by permission of Tyndale House Publishers. All rights reserved.

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      Do not be enslaved to natural man’s emotions, thoughts, and actions.  Be set free to the life led by the Spirit, His Spirit leading our spirit, ever in tune with Him.

Setting our minds above, not below, raises us “above the land of earthly disputes and focus(es) us on our Father,” knowing how to live peacefully with one another, knowing we can live eternally with Him.

Not filled with”anger, rage, malice, slander, and filthy language,” all these tear down.   But clothed in “compassion, kindness, humility, gentleness and patience,”–these build up.

When the logs of discord, be they from memory or present, come by you in the sream of life, let them pass.  Recognize them, the feelings, the events, the words, the actions, but let them pass on by. Don’t stop them, pull them up on the bank, build a house of pain and disruption with them, then live in it.  It becomes a prison of your own making.  Christ set the captive free.  Let the logs go by and reach that place where you can “forgive as the Lord forgave you.” 

Then you can act in the victorious lifestyle of “over all these virtues put on love, which binds them all together in perfect unity.”

Therefore, you can express compassion toward those who have brought you harm, treat them with kindness, remain humble in the Lord for he raises you above the hurt, be gentle in response to harshness, and have patience as you see the Lord work out His will in you and others.