Monday, November 06, 2006

Giving What You Have Received

The main sessions of our retreat were on Philippians 2. I was struck by Kay Arthur's unpacking of verses 1 and 2--she explained that we are to take possession of and give to others what we have received from the Lord. She drew parallels I'd never thought of before. The first verse describes four blessings He has given us; the second verse identifies how we can live out those blessings and pass them on to others. The idea here is that God does not ask us to do anything which He has not already done Himself.

1 - If you have any encouragement from being united with Christ... (v. 1)
The Greek word for "encouragement" here is "paraklesis"--related to the Greek word for the Holy Spirit ("paraclete"). It is a comfort beyond mere soothing; it is an encouragement which makes you strong. It is the reassurance of Matthew 12:20--Christ will not break you when you are bruised or snuff out your smoldering flame.
...being of the same mind (v. 2)
He is gentle with us--so we should be gentle with others. We extend to others the patience and encouragement we have received from Christ.

2 - if there is any consolation of love... (v. 1)
The Greek for "consolation" is "paramuthion"--it has the sense here of coming alongside and speaking tender things to you. God speaks His love to us in His Word.
...maintaining the same love (v. 2)
In the same way, we are called to speak the truth in love to others--to come alongside them and exhort them with God's Word.

3 - if there is any fellowship of the Spirit... (v. 1)
The Greek here is "koinonia"--"to share in common." God has given us His Holy Spirit to make us one with Him. Through Christ's sacrifice, and through the gift of the Holy Spirit to dwell within us, we have fellowship with God. And He has given that same Spirit to every one of His children.
...united in spirit (v. 2)
If all of us who are in Christ have the same Spirit, that unites us. We must not grieve or quench the Spirit--that has fellowship/unity implications. What does the Holy Spirit want to do? Among other things, He wants to love and minister to people--through me. If I resist that--if I do not rejoice with those who rejoice and mourn with those who mourn; if I do not come alongside my brothers and sisters and exhort and encourage them--I am grieving and quenching the Spirit in me.

4 - if any affection and compassion... (v. 1)
The Greek here is "bowels of mercy"--a sympathy and compassion felt deep in your gut. This is the kind of mercy God has shown us--the same Greek word is used of Jesus in Mark 1:41. He has deep compassion for our helplessness and brokenness--a compassion that took Him to the cross to rescue us. His mercy is new every morning--He never says, "that's it, you're done" to us.
...and of one mind (v. 2)
The Greek here has the sense of having the same sentiment, being similarly disposed, interesting yourself in, setting the affection on. We must extend to others the mercy we receive from God. How often we are like the unmerciful servant who was forgiven a great debt, but demanded payment from someone who owed him a paltry sum. Instead we are to show others the compassion and mercy that God shows us.

Through this study, I loved seeing yet again how God doesn't expect anything of us that He hasn't already modeled. He shows us, perfectly, how to do these things. He fills us with His encouragement, His mercy, His Spirit so that we can pour into others. And He died so that we would receive and understand and be able to live out this grace! How great is our God!

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