Wednesday, February 10, 2010

To Live is Christ — without Him I’m helpless

God reminded me this morning why I need to spend some time with Him before I get into the rest of my day. I turned on my computer and had two messages pop up. One was a list of solutions to problems I’ve had with some software, essentially a reminder to get all my updates. The other was a Vista update urging several downloads. This happens often and I always take time to install them, even though I’d rather get to my study (I use an online Bible and devotional guide).

I suppose there are people who ignore the updates. After a while, their programs would either stop working or become erratic. Taking time to get the latest drivers or whatever is needed becomes vital.

It is the same with reading the Word of God each day. I don’t know what demands will be made of me today. I might not see that I am developing bad habits or becoming selfish in my thinking. I need God’s continual reminders and updates to keep my life going the way it should.

Today, I read the same passage as yesterday, one that is always needed because I so easily drift to doing what I want and neglecting what others need. Part of it says . . . 

Let nothing be done through selfish ambition or conceit, but in lowliness of mind let each esteem others better than himself. (Philippians 2:3)
Selfish ambition is doing whatever I do for my own gain only. God does not condemn the enjoyment of work or ministry, but if that is my sole reason, then my motivations have become sinful. They need more than an update!

As for conceit, this is what Paul had in mind when he wrote Romans 12:3, “For I say, through the grace given to me, to everyone who is among you, not to think of himself more highly than he ought to think, but to think soberly, as God has dealt to each one a measure of faith.

I can know my strengths, yet I must acknowledge that they are gifts from God. I can know my talents and abilities, but I also must remember their source. Sober thinking is thinking soundly with a moderate estimate of who I am and what is true about me. I cannot lord it over anyone.

Last night I was at a writer’s meeting. As I listened to some of the elderly people in attendance and the simplicity of what they were writing, God reminded me of a young friend from twenty years ago. He was taking a BA degree at the time. Now he has a Masters and a doctorate and teaches in a university. He writes books that are so deep that I can scarcely understand the introductions. He reminds me that intellect and abilities are relevant. Don’t look down on others. Sober thinking knows that no matter how smart or talented I think I am, there are others who are much smarter.

To live is Christ is not a competition. Instead, God wants me to value every person. Besides, the university professor needs the Holy Spirit to influence the lives of his circle of friends just as much as I need the Holy Spirit to encourage those around me. With God, there are no hierarchies in any field or discipline. All of us are helpless to accomplish His will without His help.

Paul was a great man, yet he learned to “glory in his infirmities” because it was in humility that he depended upon God to give him what he needed. Every day, I need the same thing and the same reminders. As John 15:5 says, without Christ, I can do nothing.

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