Text Size: Zoom In

A Pastoral Paul Cuts us Slack

If we read the Apostle Paul as a black and white thinker who wrote rule-filled letters to followers of Christ, we may be forgetting that his pre-occupation with rule keeping was a thing of the past  (Philip 3:3-14).

Listen, for instance, to what he wrote to the Corinthians,

“The time is short, so that from now on even those who have wives should be as though they had none, those who weep as though they did not weep, those who rejoice as though they did not rejoice, those who buy as though they did not possess, and those who use this world as not misusing it. For the form of this world is passing away.” (1Cor 7:29-30)

Try reading those words as spiritual laws and standards for judging ourselves and one another, and we turn words of inspiration and encouragement into a heavy spiritual weight that none of us can lift.

On the other hand, if we see how flexible Paul is in this letter, and how often he gives counsel while allowing for the individual circumstances and spiritual condition of his readers, we find his pastoral heart. Even though he had high hopes for his readers, his intent was not to control them with guilt producing standards or expectations but rather to encourage them to give themselves, in whatever shape they found themselves– to the Lord.

That’s why Paul could write radical sounding words and then add, “I am saying this for your benefit, not to place restrictions on you. I want you to do whatever will help you serve the Lord best, with as few distractions as possible” (v 35 NLT).

So can we add to our last couple of conversations something like …“Are we sad today even though Christ has done so much for us? Don’t know why we are feeling so low? Or maybe we do know what has us down, and can’t seem to shake it? Then please, for one another’s good, and for Jesus’ sake, let’s not allow those emotions to keep us from giving our messed up hearts and minds to him. Who can doubt that he would rather see us entrust to him whatever we do have… than to see us kicking ourselves around for not feeling better about all that he’s done for us… and shades of blue feelings that we may or may not be able to control…

Vote on whether you think this post is something you'll be thinking about:
Vote This Post DownVote This Post Up (+38 rating, 40 votes)

16 Responses to “A Pastoral Paul Cuts us Slack”

  1. SFDBWV says:

    Living with Christ always comes around to Grace, doesn’t it! No matter what condition we find ourselves if we fix our eyes and minds on Christ, we know that in whatever circumstance we find ourselves it’s only temporary.

    “Ah, there is the rub” as Shakespere put it.

    Our carnal selves crave relief now. So we want things our way in order to be happy. So we become anxious and troubled. That condition effects everything. Our health our mental wellbeing, our actions and subsequent life decisions.

    What did Jesus say about being anxious? Luke 12:22, Therefore I say unto you, Take no thought for your life,what ye shall eat; neither for the body, what ye shall put on.
    :23 Life is more than meat, and the body more than rainment.
    :24 Consider the ravens: for they neither sow nor reap;which neither have storehouse nor barn; and God feedeth them:how much more are ye better than the fowls?
    :25 And which of you with taking thought can add to his stature one cubit?
    :26 If ye then not able to do that thing which is least, why take ye thought for the rest?
    :27 Consider the lilies how they grow: they toil not, they spin not; and yet I say unto you, that Solomon in all his glory was not arrayed like one of these.
    :28 If then God so clothe the grass, which is today in the field, and tomorrow is cast into the oven; how much more will HE clothe you, O ye of little faith?
    :29 And seek not what ye shall eat, or what ye shall drink,neither be ye of doubtful mind.
    :30 For all these things do the nations of the world seek after: and your Father knoweth that ye have need of these things.
    :31 But rather seek ye the Kingdom of God; and all these things shall be added to you.

    “For the form of this world is passing away”….For me truer words were never spoke. I even had prophesy concerning the matter. I wrote in part,”I know the end the absolute end of it all is here…everything I have known is gone and everything familiar is collapsing and fading away.”

    I have learned to live each day as if it is the “only” day. To be thankful, to accept todays work and blessings. And not to worry about tomorrow.

    God Himself placed me into this posture. For me to try to change it, would only add to my grief and needless unhappiness.

    Each day will present its own troubles. Everyday is a spiritual battle. But Jesus has not left us alone. He has given us the Comforter…

    Saw a Robin yesterday afternoon, I saw hope that spring is returning.

  2. drkennyg says:

    Yes it is best to live one day at a time. It can be overwhelming to do more than that. It is good to know that Jesus agrees with that and so advises us to minimize the burdens that we feel of our circumstances. And a few days ago I saw some blossoms out here in CA – peach and Santa Barbara pear ones. Spring is on the way and that’s all I need to know for now. Today I will focus on the prize.

  3. daisymarygoldr says:

    “Please, for one another’s good, and for Jesus’ sake, let’s not allow those emotions to keep us from wholeheartedly giving our messed up hearts and minds to him. Who can doubt that he would rather see us entrust to him whatever we do have… than to see us kicking ourselves around for not feeling better about all that he’s done for us… and shades of blue feelings that we may or may not be able to control…”- MDH

    Thank you… for allowing yourself to be led by the wisdom of the Holy Spirit to teach us that profound truth!

  4. paul davy says:

    An attitude of gratitude, is to be cultivated, Gal 6:7 is a sure word, what ever you plant is what you grow. whatever you send out is what comes back to you. being grateful, believing the promises of God, for you, being okay with the now,(as a minimum level of acceptance) and expecting better, looking forward, looking up, walking on the sunny side of the street, “the path of the righteous is like the light of dawn that shines brighter and brighter until the fullness of day.” Prov 4:18
    Fight the devil and he will flee from you, use the weapons of the spirit, love-joy-peace-patience-gentleness-kindness-faithfulness-self control

  5. gr8grannyjacobs says:

    Where Could I Go But To The Lord an old song we used to sing is brought to mind from these last days of discussions. There is great comfort in knowing He is there for us and its ok to come to Him just as we are. The words are so true where could I go but to the Lord.

  6. rokdude5 says:

    Though I want to be joyful in my heart as we should be, Im sadden by the events that occurred at MaryVille Baptist Church this morning. Lets lift them up in our prayers.

  7. Laurielee says:

    This morning, on awakening, I was contemplating on how nothing and no one in our life is “ours” to keep. We have no guarantees of having those we love about us for the duration of our earthly lives, no guarantees of health, happiness, or length of life. The only guarantee, and the only constant, is our Lord Jesus and Father in Heaven. Though it’s been repeated so often, it is so true…He will never leave us or forsake us. I am in such a state of praising Him today. Without Him, what would I have? Life would not be worth the effort it takes to go on. A clear look at the earthly life of Christ doesn’t reveal a life without opposition, pain, and physical and mental anguish. Could we really exchange the lives we’ve lived for the cup He had to drink? Could we even live the lives the Apostles did? How many stood by Him at His darkest hour? Even Jesus felt abandoned…”My God, My God, why have you forsaken me?” According to Merriam-Webster… “Forsaken; to renounce or entirely turn away from”. We know, from Christ’s resurrection, that God did not ultimately forsake Him. And He won’t forsake us. He loves us with an everlasting love…and we don’t even deserve it! I am so thankful, because who am I that He should be mindful of me? What is one basic, true fact that we know about God? He cannot lie. Ps. 50:14 & 23. “Make thankfulness your sacrifice to God, and keep the vows you made to the Most High. Then call on Me when you are in trouble, and I will rescue you, and you will give Me glory. 23 But giving thanks is a sacrifice that truly honors Me. If you keep to My path, I will reveal to you the salvation of God.” That’s a promise…what are we thankful for?

  8. poohpity says:

    I believe what Paul was trying to say is that no matter what we are going through in this world things tend to distract us from serving the Lord. I would even venture to say that when we do anything for the lest of these or tell someone of the salvation offered by the Lord our eyes are upon God and not on us. When we are busy with the work God has intended for us to do I have found relief from a lot of negative feelings and that includes depression.

    Paul tries to let us know that whatever our station is in life we can be used by God to benefit someone else. Our days are numbered and we are called to serve as Jesus served but if we are so busy with the things of this world and our wants then there is not enough time in a day to look beyond ourselves to be Jesus to someone else.

  9. kaliko88 says:

    I also was gently comforted today by songs. One was on the radio, a folk/bluegrass program I love on Sundays. I got introduced to the music of John Smith and a song called “Down a Gravel Road” where I was caught by the phrase ‘gratitude is a friend of mine’. I’m still trying to track it down so maybe I can purchase a download. And then when I read this I was instantly reminded of John Waller’s song “While I’m Waiting” from the movie Fireproof. A strong, encouraging message in that one, and one I can instantly share as it’s on his MySpace page (if anyone wants to hear it). It seems to fit perfectly with today’s observations.

    Spring kicked off here with a week of warm weather and a night of storms bringing much needed rain. Today was cooler, but breezy and sunny. I welcomed it in by opening the windows and enjoyed dozing into a restful nap as I watched my cats enjoy the fresh air and the sounds of birds.

  10. Mart De Haan says:

    rdrcomp, I agree that there are probably a lot of those factors, but like you, want to be so careful not to add to the distress of those who really do have medical issues.

  11. Laurielee says:

    Mark, I really enjoyed reading “I get to choose”.

  12. mtman says:

    Excellent post and follow up commments Mark L. We do have choices and how we exercise them defines the path of life.
    Not that it has any relevence to what you have posted but I attended a retreat probably 20 years ago where a futureistics expert make the qualified prediction that by the year 2020 third world countries would be coming to the USA to evanglize us. I guess that just shows how wrong even the experts can be because that happened several years ago.. Since this is a closed topic I hope you get to read this…

Leave a Comment

You must be logged in to post a comment.