Sunday, February 26, 2017

6e--Accepting Distinctions Without Disapproval

Individuality--Distinctively Different

You've been there, right? Working with someone with whom you just don't seem compatible? Or maybe someone outside of work, in school perhaps, or just in your circle of friends, or your spouse's friends? Or maybe even your spouse...ugh, let's hope not! 
Quite possibly it was someone at church, even a respected leader, and yes, even the pastor. But perhaps over time, as you got to know that person, you began to respect them and even appreciate their differences from you. You began to see those differences in temperament or personality not as a disadvantage, but a distinctive. I jokingly said that earlier about spouses, but often times this can be the case on first impressions with a future spouse. You know the guy who just drives you crazy at first, later comes back and you begin to see that the differences that initially separated you from that person can actually draw you closer to each other.

Verse 21-24. Paul goes to the absurd in making his case for accepting one another as distinctly individual. "The eye cannot say to the hand, 'I have no need of you'; nor again the head to the feet, 'I have no need of you.' " His absurdity is to shame those who have looked down on others within the church who were not gifted as they were. He even deemed others to be initially viewed as them weaker, yet later revealed be very necessary to the whole of the body.
        The New International Version puts verse 22-24a this way, “Those parts of the body that seem to be weaker are indispensable, and the parts that we think are less honorable we treat with special honor. And the parts that are unpresentable are treated with special modest, while our presentable parts need no special treatment.”
        Plainly stated, if some members of the church, especially those who are less than prominent, think that because they are gifted with the “lesser gifts,” that somehow that makes them weaker or less important because they are less visible, they are just wrong. It is consistent with the teachings of Jesus that those who do not receive their rewards here on earth and those who do not earn visible recognition for their service to God here on earth will receive them in heaven. Read His words found in Matthew 6:1-6, but also in other places.

1 "Take heed that you do not do your charitable deeds before men, to be seen by them. Otherwise you have no reward from your Father in heaven. 2 Therefore, when you do a charitable deed, do not sound a trumpet before you as the hypocrites do in the synagogues and in the streets, that they may have glory from men. Assuredly, I say to you, they have their reward. 3 But when you do a charitable deed, do not let your left hand know what your right hand is doing, 4that your charitable deed may be in secret; and your Father who sees in secret will Himself reward you openly. 5 "And when you pray, you shall not be like the hypocrites. For they love to pray standing in the synagogues and on the corners of the streets, that they may be seen by men. Assuredly, I say to you, they have their reward. 6 But you, when you pray, go into your room, and when you have shut your door, pray to your Father who is in the secret place; and your Father who sees in secret will reward you openly.

Suggested prayer: "Giver of every perfect gift, help me today to express my appreciation of those who are different from me, but nonetheless important to Your Kingdom's work. Help me find joy in those who might otherwise in the flesh cause me sorrow, not because they are wrong, but because they are different."

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