Sunday, October 5, 2014
The Maturing Laboring Disciple
“Emotional health and spiritual maturity are inseparable. It is not possible to be spiritually mature while remaining emotionally immature.”
Peter Scazzero, Emotional Healthy Spirituality
What does spiritual maturity look like for the person who is following Christ while seeking to minister to others? This post is the first of three dichotomies that the Apostle Paul experienced as a mature laboring apostle in 2 Corinthians 6:10.
In early 700 B.C. the Hebrew Prophet Isaiah described the life of the coming Messiah as accurately as if he'd seen Him face-to-face:
He was despised and rejected of men; a man of sorrows, and acquainted with grief: and we hid as it were our faces from him; he was despised, and we esteemed him not.
Jesus, the only perfect man, clearly saw the incredible lostness and brokenness of the people of His day. One of His disciples, Matthew wrote,
As He (Jesus) looked at the vast crowds He was deeply moved with pity for them, for they were as bewildered and miserable as a flock of sheep with no shepherd.
As we walk with Jesus and mature in Him, it’s not unusual to become increasingly saddened by the brokenness of the world we live in. This is especially true when we experience the shatteredness of our dreams in our own the lives, in the lives of our children, or with close friends.
Around 50 AD Paul wrote to the believers in Philippi about an aspect of the Christian life that is neglected by many:
And now, you have been given the privilege of not only believing in Jesus the Anointed, our Liberating King, but being chosen to suffer for Him as well.
The pain we experience in the midst of our distresses can enable us to forge a deep connection with the sorrow, grief and rejection of the Savior. There is a knowing of Christ in the midst of suffering that can be more profound and transformative than power of the resurrection experiences.
At the same time there are victories, celebrations, and occasions for deep connection with others that cause us to delight and experience great gladness. John explained his reason for writing his epistle to the early church:
These things we write, so that our joy may be made complete. 1 John1:4
I pray that the God who gives hope will fill you with much joy and peace as you trust in him. Then you will have more and more hope, and it will flow out of you by the power of the Holy Spirit. Romans 15:13
Love, joy, and peace are meant to be a fruit of the indwelling presence of the Holy Spirit. These three by-products of our union our Triune God are very different from their worldly expression.
· Love: As Jesus was fond of saying, what benefit is there if you only love those who love you in return?
· Joy: The joy of the world is best illustrated in the winning of the lottery. The joy God promises us often wells up inside of us in the midst of difficult circumstances.
· Peace: The peace Jesus promised was not the absence of turmoil that the carnal yearn for, but a deep inner peace in the midst of difficulty.
Where are you in your journey?
1. Are you habitually sorrowful yet always rejoicing or characterized primarily by murmuring and complaining?
2. The core of grumbling and complaining is often a demanding spirit (see demandingness).
3. If God reveals that you have a demanding, grumbling spirit, are you willing to confess it as sin and repent?
4. Lord Jesus, what do You have to communicate to me about sorrow and rejoicing?
Would love to know your response to this devotional. Drop a comment below or @ L2G.Forum@gmail.com.