Monday, 8 September 2014
Knowing what matters
“Let those of us who are mature think this way…” These words got me thinking this week. What does it mean to be mature in Christ? What is the mature example that we are supposed to imitate? Who has encouraged me as they have followed Christ?
Mature believers know what matters. They have a perspective on life that comes from years of following him. They aren’t stuck in the past. And as they press forward, they aren’t running in many directions. They are focused. Their eyes are on Jesus.
I remember when our kids were small. One day we had a conversation with Ralph and Jane, two grandparents in our congregation. “Our kids won’t eat their dinner. What should we do? We tried making them take three bites. Is that too many? Or should we make them eat it all? Of course, they don’t get dessert if they don’t finish everything. Maybe we should make them stay at the table until they’re done…” Ralph and Jane smiled at each other. “Don’t make dinner into a battle ground,” Jane began, “it is such an important time to be together. Enjoy it in the Lord. This time passes far too quickly.”
Mark and I didn’t expect that response. But we took it to heart. That was when we decided to start reading the Chronicles of Narnia out loud at the dinner table. Mark, the fast eater, would pick up the book as soon as he was finished. Suddenly dinnertime became our favorite time of the day. Instead of focusing on problems, we enjoyed the Lord together.
I’m grateful for mature believers like Ralph and Jane whose wise counsel made our family life happier. Today I want to thank a few others for living out the truths of Philippians 3 in ways that help me focus and follow Christ better.
First, thanks to my husband Mark, for living out Paul’s words in Phil 3:15, …and if in anything you think otherwise, God will reveal that also to you.” I don’t know anyone who trusts the work of God in other believers more than he does. He has strengthened my confidence in the indwelling Spirit, not just in my life but in those around me.
My mother, Emily, is an example to me of someone who lives in eager anticipation. She loves to look forward to good times together. But I know that above all she is …awaiting a Savior, the Lord Jesus Christ…” like a child waiting for Christmas. Thanks, Mom, I can’t wait!
Mary Lyons, a friend from the Bay Area, was a pastor’s wife for 25 years after returning home from 25 years on the mission field. But she didn’t live in the past. She was constantly pressing on toward the goal. She was the liveliest believer I knew, taking up painting when she was 60 and going wind surfing on her 65th birthday. Mary used to have me over for tea to find out about my life and encourage me. From her I learned that “living fully” is not just about being busy but staying focused on Jesus.
When I think of not having a righteousness of my own…but that which comes through faith in Christ, I think of my friend Elyse Fitzpatrick. She doesn’t waste time thinking that she is good, but fiercely clings to Jesus as her righteousness. I have seen her flee to the cross and be quick to apologize when the Spirit convicts her of sin.
Leslie Wilson is an example to me of someone who is not looking at herself, but is outwardly focused. That’s because she is humbly looking for godly examples to follow. As she keeps her eyes on those who walk according to the example of Christ, she not only presses on, but she becomes aware of the work of God in others. When she speaks encouragement, it rings true. Thank you, Leslie, for seeing God’s work in me and building me up.
Finally, there’s my practical French friend, Mireille White. She is quick to see a need and offer efficient, gracious help. I believe one reason she is able to do this is that she is forgetting what lies behind and straining forward to what lies ahead. Forgetting the past frees her to live in the present with great fruitfulness. I’m grateful for her example…and her help.
I thank God for those who help me know what matters. Their focus on Jesus Christ transfers my gaze back to him. I’m glad we’re running this race together.