One of our favorite outreach events each year happens on Main Street on the 4th of July for the start of the Firecracker Fifty.
The church services in Corinth were confused, chaotic, and unintelligible, and they were blaming it on the Holy Spirit. Paul says that this confusion is counter to the character of God. God’s character is not confused, chaotic, or disorderly. Confusion and chaos do not express who He is and is not characteristic of the work of the Holy Spirit. In Paul’s final admonition in the chapter is a plea for balance: “So, my brothers, earnestly desire to prophesy, and do not forbid speaking in tongues. But all things should be done decently and in order” (1 Corinthians 14:39–40). Does chaos or confusion surround you right now? Keep in mind God’s character. He is not a God of confusion, fear or division. Wait patiently for His peace to direct you. Waiting is a very active position. “And the peace of God, which transcends all understanding, will guard your hearts and your minds in Christ Jesus.” (Phil 4:7)
Humility that comes from wisdom is not jealous or selfish. Heavenly wisdom centers on purity, peace, gentleness, deference, mercy, and other good fruits untainted by hypocrisy” (James 3:16-17, The Voice). Unhealthy comparison is false humility, which ironically is a subtle form of pride. Has comparison become a backdoor approach to get attention for your jealous ego? Let go of saying or thinking, “I’m not as spiritual as her, but at least I am more spiritual than him. Or, my career is not as successful as his, but I am more successful than most.” Secretly comparing nourishes pride! C.S. Lewis gets right to the heart, “It is the comparison that makes you proud: the pleasure of being above the rest.” Beware of comparing and be grateful that all success is the fruit of God’s grace. “I know what it is to be in need, and I know what it is to have plenty. I have learned the secret of being content in any and every situation, whether well fed or hungry, whether living in plenty or in want. I can do all this through him who gives me strength” (Philippians 4:12-13).
Dietrich Bonhoeffer once said, “we pray for the big things and forget to give thanks for the ordinary, small gifts.” Of all the gifts we take for granted, friendship and community are often at the top of the list. In fact, it isn’t until we find ourselves without meaningful friendships or relationships that we realize just how vital they are to our health and spiritual growth! Why christian friendships? They pray for you and point you to Christ. “Bear one another's burdens, and so fulfill the law of Christ.” (Galatians 6:2) “Confess your trespasses to one another, and pray for one another that you may be healed.” (James 5:16) “but exhort one another daily.” (Hebrews 3:13) Don’t forget to thank God for the community of believers you are surrounded with. “Every time I think of you, I give thanks to my God. Whenever I pray, I make my requests for all of you with joy,”
When you’re in conflict, the loving and Christlike way to defuse the tension is to seek to understand before seeking to be understood. Try to figure out what the other person is thinking and saying before you start trying to convince them of your side. You cannot hope to be understood until you are willing to do the same for others. If you’re not willing to seek to understand and acknowledge other perspectives, you’re not going to be able to see the hurt of other people. You won’t see their fear, their pain, or the injustice they’ve faced. Compassionate listening makes room for differences without ignoring or dismissing the other person’s ideas. It’s out of our differences that we all become better versions of what God expects of us. Who can I grow to love in respect for their views though they differ from mine? “My dear brothers and sisters, take note of this: Everyone should be quick to listen, slow to speak and slow to become angry.” James 1:19
In this selfie generation, it is harder than ever to faithfully live out the words of our Lord but to do this, we must look afresh to Jesus. To see in him perfect love that comes, not to be served, but to serve (Matthew 20:28). We must turn outward and see a savior who gives his life as a gift for the life of the world (John 6:51), taking on the very nature of a servant (Philippians 2:7).
Charles Spurgeon describes the peace of mind and heart for the life that is well built on Christ: “The Christian rests peacefully upon Christ. Troubles come one after another, but they do not sweep him away, they only endear to him the hope which is based upon Christ Jesus. And when at last death comes, that awful flood which will undermine everything that can be removed, it cannot find anything to shake in the wise builder’s hope. He rests on what Christ has done; death cannot affect that. He believes in a faithful God; and dying cannot affect that.” Seek to build your life on Christ and help others to faithfully build on Him. Then rest in His security. And when death knocks at the door of your life you can rest in what comes next—Jesus Christ.