Tuesday, May 2, 2017

Putting Up with The Stink

There's a question that regularly comes to my mind:  What should a true disciple of Jesus look like? And... do I look like that?

I want my life to bring good "publicity" to Jesus.  Those who follow Him should have lives that say to the world, "Hey, this Jesus really is a treasure worth pursuing!"  People should see a difference in us, right?  But if our lives don't look any more hopeful, any more joyful, any "happier", then what's the point?

I came across these verses this week from Ephesians 4:1-3:
Therefore I, the prisoner for the Lord, urge you to walk worthy of the calling you have received, with all humility and gentleness, with patience, accepting one another in love, diligently keeping the unity of the Spirit with the peace that binds us.

What Got my attention was that there was a footnote to "accepting" that read "or tolerating".  I also looked in a Greek Bible I happen to have, and the Greek word means "to put up with, bear with, forebear, endure, suffer".

Well...  that just feels a bit different to me than just accepting.  Accepting is being in relationship with someone that I just don't necessarily understand or like.  Someone that makes me a bit uncomfortable.  But that's not enough is it?  Because bearing with and even suffering with someone is a whole new level.  This is the person that actually hurts me, actually makes me miserable.  They STINK.  And this passage suggests fighting for the relationship.  Ouch!

Today as a follower of Jesus I am grateful...  grateful for those who have persevered with me and my own stink, my own insecurities and fears and arrogance and self-centeredness.  I am grateful for the people throughout the years who have suffered with me and from me and endured it out of love and obedience.  I have whined and complained.  I have hurt people.  I have been very difficult.

Haven't we all?  So how can I live this out?  There's no question this level of love gets the attention of the world.  It gets my attention!

Here's how we live this:  we realize that the One who loves us most went even further than tolerating us.  He fought for us and saved us.  And He lived this verse out so immensely that He suffered for our sins on a cross.  My sin cost Him dearly.  Our sin cost Him.

I heard this recently:  When we decide to follow Jesus and surrender our lives to Him, we surrender the right to be offended.  We have done more to Him than will ever be done to us, and since we are forgiven, we must forgive.  He has carried us, tolerated us, put up with us and our stench, and fought to stay in relationship with us.  We must do the same!

Today, those of us who want to see our King glorified and honored, join with me!  Let's make sure we stay away from offense.  Let's love lavishly, forgive quickly, and bear with one another in love, even to the point of suffering.  Even in the stink!

He is worthy of our obedience, and the world needs to see the fruit of His lavish love at work!


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