Wednesday, February 4, 2015

Pastoral Pings (Plus) ~ The Room That Makes No Room

          When someone decides they want to dig up part of their lawn to make room for a garden, they are also planning to make no room for weeds. Their interest is in the vegetables that will produce food, not the weeds that produce more weeds. Making room for the good also means not making room for the bad.
          When Jesus calls his church to have the same mind as him in humbly caring for one another,[1] and his word clarifies that having the same mind as him requires us to set our minds on the things of his Spirit,[2]there is no room left for us to allow the thoughts, feelings, and desires of the sark, or the flesh. Setting our minds on the Spirit leads to the unity and harmony Jesus wants in his body, while setting our minds on the flesh puts us in conflict with him, and brings all kinds of division and selfishness into the church.
          As Paul has taught us so many things in Philippians we need to work out with fear and trembling, knowing God is working in us to will and to work for his good pleasure,[3] he now wants us to understand that this also means we must “do all things without grumbling or disputing.”[4]
          What I realized this morning was that it is very easy to try to do the positive things we are taught in the New Testament Scriptures, while also allowing the negative things to work alongside the good. This is the false gospel that believes we are acceptable to God if we are doing more good works than bad works. We act as though it is okay to gossip at a prayer meeting because, after all, we are better than all the other churches that don’t have prayer meetings. Or, we can be prideful about the simplicity of our singing because, after all, aren’t we doing things in a way that isn’t drawing attention to ourselves!
          Paul knows that allowing any kind of prideful, sarky, self-glorification, means the end to all the good things he has taught. It is the poison of the sark. We cannot allow ourselves to be the double-minded man who tries to live in the sark and the Spirit at the same time.[5] We cannot do some things spiritually, seeking the interests of others,[6] and, at the same time, allow ourselves to grumble and complain about people. The weeds of sarkiness will always choke out the life of love in the church.
          With this in mind, that the mind of the sark is in conflict with the mind of the Spirit, “grumbling or disputing” doesn’t belong in the church because it is sarky. Grumbling and disputing, along with all the synonyms and parallel references, comes from the sark, the flesh, so it will produce the fruit of the flesh.[7] Weeds in the garden are in conflict with the aim of growing vegetables that produce a good harvest.[8]
          Secondly, there is no room for grumbling and disputing in the church because it is in conflict with the “fear and trembling” that characterizes our response to what God is working in us to will and to work for his good pleasure.[9] The sark cannot produce the fear and trembling response to God’s work in us. It is a work of the Spirit. It is a spiritual response to the spiritual work of God. It is spirit responding to Spirit.
          Thirdly, we must get rid of all grumbling and disputing, along with the sarky attitude that fuels such relationship-destroying behaviors, because it is in direct conflict with the humility that is in the mind of Christ.[10] Again, humility in the mind of Christ is of the Spirit. It comes from setting our minds on the Spirit.
          The best way to make sure there is no grumbling or disputing in the church is to make no room for it. In the same way as a gardener plans his crops to give no room for weeds, and uses mulches and weed barriers in between rows to give them no chance of growing, we must plan to make room for all the things God does call us to do, while consciously giving no place for the seeds of sark to germinate. As we focus on setting our minds on the Spirit, we simply keep such a positive focus on the things God is doing that we also pull out all the weeds we discover as soon as we notice them.
          In fact, to encourage us, it is the work of God in us, working to give us the will to do everything without grumbling or disputing, that helps us keep our focus on the primary work of being like Jesus.[11] It is the work of God in us, working to lead us to work with him in our growth in Christ, that makes no room for any sarky attitudes that would steal, kill, and destroy the work of God amongst us.[12]
          When the church focuses on working out with fear and trembling these things God is working into us, we simply remind ourselves that the life of the Spirit leaves no room for anything of the sark. When we see the weeds of sarkiness sprouting up amongst the precious plants of our spiritual garden, we pull them up, nip them in the bud, uproot them, stop them, and get right back to focusing on how to do everything in the love of the Spirit.
          Here is another way that our older brother Paul speaks of this, a fitting conclusion to these thoughts: “But put on the Lord Jesus Christ, and make no provision for the flesh, to gratify its desires.”[13] Let’s give all our room to Jesus, so there is no room left for the sark. It will help to complete our joy.[14]
© 2015 Monte Vigh ~ Box 517, Merritt, BC, V1K 1B8 ~
Unless otherwise noted, Scriptures are from the English Standard Version (The Holy Bible, English Standard Version Copyright © 2001 by Crossway Bibles, a division of Good News Publishers.)

[1] Philippians 2:1-11, with particular reference to 2:5.
[2] Romans 8:5-6
[3] Philippians 2:12-13
[4] Philippians 2:14
[5] James 1:5-8
[6] The sense of Philippians 2:1-11 is that we must have the mind of Christ that humbles ourselves in consideration of others, rather than the sarky-mind that looks out only for its own interests.
[7] Galatians 5:16-21
[8] Galatians 5:22-26
[9] Philippians 2:12-13
[10] Philippians 2:5-11
[11] Romans 8:28-30; II Corinthians 3:18
[12] John 10:10 speaks of the thief that steals, kills, and destroys. While this primarily refers to Satan’s work, and is easily applied to all the false teachers who are doing Satan’s work, it is also the nature of the sark to do the same kind of damage in the church as a thief who doesn’t want us to have what is ours in Christ.
[13] Romans 13:14
[14] John 15:11; I John 1:3-4

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