May 17, 2020
“And he said, “There was a man who had two sons. And the younger of them said to his father, ‘Father, give me the share of property that is coming to me.’ And he divided his property between t h e m . ” ( L u k e 15:11–12, ESV)
I grew up in a family that was really close. I’m not talking about just my siblings plus Mom and Dad. I’m talking about Aunts, Uncles and cousins. My aunts or uncles never hesitated to correct me or any of my siblings at any time. Our family also gathered on every holiday for a big meal and the joy of being around each other. I thought this was normal. As I got older, I realized this was not necessarily true. As our parents died and we moved away that closeness has waned. We still contact each other, but not exactly like we did in the past. Some have drifted away almost completely.
During this time of sheltering in place, Ava and I have thought more about our families as we’ve watched movies that focused on families and friendships. Negative things happen in the characters’ relationships and I’ve been impressed with the way they worked through their problems. This led me to think about personal relationships and my concern is about how fragile relationships can become. We see the result of one bad decision. One says, “Ok I made a mistake.” Another says, “You did that deliberately.” And a deep wedge is driven between them causing a division that can last a lifetime unless we do something about it.
I wonder if we have used the time that we have been forcefully separated by sheltering at home, to heal our relationships or has the separation caused an even greater riff? Riffs continue when we have thoughts like, “I’ll talk to them when they apologize.” But maybe, just maybe their heart is breaking just like ours. If we could get PRIDE out of the way and communicate with love, families could once again be families and friends could once again be friends. Communication is key!
I have stood beside too many caskets as loved ones cried and begged forgiveness from someone who had already passed to the other side. Now is the time, today is the day to communicate with each other and forgive each other, before it is too late.
“And he said to him, ‘Son, you are always with me, and all that is mine is yours. It was fitting to celebrate and be glad, for this your brother was dead, and is alive; he was lost, and is found.’ ”” (Luke 15:31–32, ESV)
Thanks for listening and keep on shining.
Isn’t it frustrating when our plans get hindered? As the apostle Paul was writing the letter to the Romans, he told them that he had often planned to come to them, but had been hindered (Romans 1:13). Many of us today during this current crisis are feeling the weight of altered plans. Careers, education, social lives, and even grocery shopping is off track for many. But we must be careful not to let the practice of our faith get sidetracked. Let’s notice how even in what was surely a frustrating time for Paul, faith was still flourishing and being expressed outwardly, upwardly, and inwardly among Christians.
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Outwardly. Romans 1:8 shows that the faith of the church in Rome was expressed outwardly so that all the world knew! In Romans 16:9 Paul says their obedience had become known to all. This is what the Lord wants from His people (Matt. 5:16; 28:19-20)! Christian, are you expressing your faith outwardly?
Upwardly. Romans 1:9 shows that faith is also expressed upwardly through prayer. The apostle Paul was a man of constant prayer, as he said he prayed for the church at Rome “without ceasing.” He prayed constantly for other Christians (1 Thess. 3:10; 2 Tim. 1:3) and instructed Christians to follow his example (1 Thess. 5:17). Christian, are you expressing your faith upwardly?
Inwardly. Romans 1:10-12 shows that the church also expresses faith inwardly by edification and fellowship. Paul was praying fervently in hopes that he would be able to visit the Christians in Rome, longing to see them, to impart some spiritual gift, so they may be strengthened and encouraged by their mutual faith. With this current crisis, we are desiring that same thing right now. We want to be together. The Christian assembly gives great opportunity to encourage one another toward love and good works (Heb. 10:24). Until that day when we can meet again in person, are you taking steps to express your faith inwardly to your brothers and sisters in Christ?
This present distress we are under is certainly frustrating and trying. But if we will make an effort to express our faith outwardly, upwardly, and inwardly, we can make it through and come out stronger on the other side, Lord willing.