Thursday, July 10, 2008

Strong Gentleness IV

Today we will conclude the series on Strong Gentleness and the need of gracious etiquette in the Christian's thriving life. Thank you for your input and help. Obviously we are all feeling the "incivility" of our land.

Dining out with a friend last evening two young men held the doors for us to enter the restaurant. I thanked them and huge smiles spread over their faces. When I had been shopping in the grocery store I was helped by kind employees who went far beyond my expectations. Suddenly I realilzed I was being showered with politeness. When I'm working on a writing or speaking assignment I usually have fresh encounters with the related issues to my topic. Trust me, when I am working on patience, life gets tough. So, I write to you with the joy of being treated with unusual kindness and politeness. I like it!

Hopefully all of us can grow more aware of the opportunities we have to show kindness to others. Many people push through life fussin' and cussin' because they know no other way. We know better.

Reading your comments and thinking of my own concerns for the lack of incivility in our culture I am convinced most people fail at kindness because they are unaware of others. I believe we will all find positive changes as we ourselves become aware of the ways we can help others.

When we embrace the wide open adventure of living in Christ we will pray for God to alert us wherever He has a need for us to help someone. Then every venture becomes an adventure.

In Romans 15 Paul shows us that our faith will lead us to be oriented around the needs of others...verse 1 "We who are strong ought to bear with the failings of the weak and not to please ourselves. Each of us should please his neighbor for his good, to build him up. For even Christ did not please Himself."

Richard Foster wrote, "Nothing disciplines the inordinate desires of the flesh like service, and nothing transforms the desires of the flesh like serving in hiddenness. The flesh whines against service but screams against hidden service. It strains and pulls for honor and recognition. It will devise subtle, religiously acceptable means to call attention to the service rendered. If we stoutly refuse to give in to this lust of the flesh, we crucify it. Every time we crucify the flesh, we crucify pride and arrogance."

In Beyond Personality, C.S. Lewis writes, “The principle runs through all life from top to bottom. Give up yourself, and you’ll find your real self. Lose your life and you’ll save it. Submit to death, death of your ambitions and favorite wishes every day and death of your whole body in the end: submit with every fiber of your being, and you will find eternal life. Keep nothing back. Nothing that you have not given away will ever be really yours. Nothing in you that has not died will ever be raised from the dead. Look for yourself, and you will find in the long run only hatred, loneliness, despair, rage, ruin, and decay. But look for Christ and you will find Him, and with Him everything else thrown in.”

I remember when I had a sweet face for everyone, but much of my thinking was centered on me and mine. That was a tight suffocating place to live. God has expanded my focus and turned my eyes away from my own little world. I lose myself in whatever I see and hear God calling me to do for His glory. Thriving, truly comes, in paying life forward compassionately to others.

Kindness and smooth flowing life works best within excellent protocol. What is protocol? It is a system of orderly rules that guide the development of social character and culture. It establishes behavioral habits by which we treat others.

Our main struggle is that the current trend of social norms run counter to Biblical standards. We must pray for discernment and diligence to stand against the flow counter to being Christ-like.
Christian protocol calls us to behave graciously towards one another and protocol provides a simple way to that end.

Through our rules of conduct (Biblically based) we can demonstrate respect, kindness and brotherly love. Everyday details of protocol in interaction with others, eating, sitting, walking and all the details of everyday life might seem mundane. Know that their impact, consistently practiced, will impact a community and a society. Protocol matters!

God invites us to experience a new freedom and a new joy that is found when we ignore our first selfish impulses and allow God’s Spirit to give us a heart for others. He wants to expand our focus and turn our eyes away from our own small world, and to find ourselves by losing ourselves in service to His concerns and people.


Tracy said...

Hi Kay,
So nice to "meet" you! Thank you so much for dropping by my blog and for the encouragement you shared with me about Millie. Seems God always sends someone like you at just the point I need it. = )

Wow! I have to tell you this post packs a mighty punch! That quote from Richard Foster...ouch! My instant reaction was denial..."I LOVE serving "behind the scenes"...but as I read on, the Lord spoke through this sentence "...[we] will devise subtle, religiously acceptable means to call attention to the service rendered." Cut me to the quick! This has been me more often than I care to admit. I'm praying the Lord will help me crucify the subtle pride and arrogance this demonstrates. Thanks for being His voice this morning.

I'll be back. = )


Kay Martin said...

Hidden service where we are willing to serve the Lord and just let it go is where the REAL action in the Kingdom of God occurs.

Loved your blog and I will return. Keep up your heart felt writing.

© 2008 Kay Martin

Thrive In Christ

Who I Am In Christ by Neil Anderson

For several months we will center on this book to pursue Thriving in our Christian journey.

Neil challenges us with: "Do you know who you are in God's eyes? We are no longer products of our past. We are primarily products of Christ's work on the cross. Who we are determines what we do.

You are not who you are in Christ because of the things you have done, you are in Christ because of what He has done. He died and rose again so that you and I could live in the FREEDOM of His love."

That's just the introduction. More to follow.