READINGOld Testament: Genesis 41:46-57
Psalms: Psalms 56, 57, 58, 64, 65
New Testament: 1 Corinthians 4:8-21
Gospel: Mark 3:7-19
Evening Psalms: 64,65
DEVOTIONALI have a gold cross necklace that has been nestled in the corner of my jewelry box for the last ten years. I can count on one hand the number of times I’ve worn it. You see, when I wear the necklace I feel pressure to be a “good” Christian. I feel a responsibility to not curse, to speak kindly of others, to be patient and loving, to sacrifice my needs for the needs of others – in short to be Christ-like. Frankly, I find the pressure overwhelming and it’s just easier to not wear it. Not wearing the necklace gives me freedom to yell at the driver who cuts me off in traffic. Sans necklace, I can also be rude to the gym manager who can’t seem to bill me correctly despite multiple emails and phone calls from me. I can go about my day-to-day business with a breezy air and complacency that makes my life so much easier….or does it?
In today’s New Testament reading, Paul reminds me that being a Christian is hard work. He describes what it’s like to be an apostle:
“…When we are cursed, we bless; when we are persecuted, we endure it; when we are slandered, we answer kindly…” (1 Cor. 4:12-13).
Paul urges followers to imitate him. He tells the Corinthians that he is sending Timothy, a fellow apostle, “…who will remind you of my way of life in Christ Jesus…” (1 Cor. 4:17)
Most importantly, Paul says, “For the kingdom of God is not a matter of talk, but of power.”(1 Cor. 4:20).
I am reminded that the Holy Spirit is so much more powerful than my empty words -- whether they be rude or kind. I am reminded that it is love followed by action that will advance the kingdom of God. My freedom lies not in being able to yell at that rude driver, but in the peace and joy that can be found in Christ Jesus.
“For you have delivered me from death and my feet from stumbling, that I may walk before God in the light of life.” (Psalm 56:13) Amen.