Monday, May 12, 2008

Got Passion?

What are your passions? What are you devoted to, focused on, intense about? Do those passions align themselves up properly with the word of God? A victorious life is not about following all of the dos and abstaining from all of the don’ts. Sisters, it is so much bigger than that!

So what passions does God want us to have? We can go to many different places in the Bible to find what He desires to see within us. Today, let’s visit 1 Timothy 4:12b-15…

“…in speech, conduct, love, faith and purity, show yourself an example of those who believe. Until I come, give attention to the public reading of Scripture, to exhortation and teaching. Do not neglect the spiritual gift within you…. Take pains with these things; be absorbed in them, so that your progress may be evident to all.”

Now, 1 Timothy was a letter written directly from Paul to his beloved son in the faith, Timothy. These instructions were given to him personally, but the truths in them apply to all followers of Jesus Christ. Let’s look at these truths together one by one. I will be writing them in the first person because whether or not the rest of you need this reminder, I know that I do!

Am I aware of my speech and what I talk about? When I am with others that are not of the faith, do I let my talk “slide” a bit, so that I fit in? While with other Christians, do I allow myself to participate in a conversation that is less than glorifying to our God? Do I participate in or listen to gossip or slander? Are my words loving, kind, truthful and edifying? “Let your speech always be with grace, seasoned, as it were, with salt…” Colossians 4:6

What about my conduct? What activities do I allow myself and my children to participate in? (Just a little reminder here that you are not responsible for, nor are you to instruct, your husband in his conduct :)Would Jesus be pleased to join me in these activities? Would I want Him to? What about how I conduct myself when alone, with my husband, my children, neighbors, strangers and friends? Do I maintain a high standard in my conduct or does it reflect that of the current culture? “Only conduct yourselves in a manner worthy of the gospel of Christ…” Philippians 1:27

Do I daily walk in love? Not just with those that are easy, but also the stinkers that are a bit tough to even like? Do I love my children by saying “no” when to say “yes” would involve compromise? In putting on love, do I give up my “rights”? Am I showing love by smiling cheerfully, giving hugs and living gratefully? “As those who have been chosen of God, holy and beloved, put on a heart of compassion, kindness, humility, gentleness and patience…. And beyond all these things put on love…” Colossians 3:12, 14

Do I believe God and His word or do I merely believe in God? Is my faith known to all that are acquainted with me or is it a sideline type of faith? Do I even know what I have faith in? Could I explain, even defend my faith? “‘You are My witnesses,’ declares the LORD ‘and My servant whom I have chosen, in order that you may know and believe Me and understand that I am He. Before Me there was no God formed and there will be none after Me.’” Isaiah 43:10

Do I have a passion for purity in my life? Is my thought life pure? Is my reading material pure? Is my television or movie watching pure? Is the music I listen to pure? “But I am afraid, lest as the serpent deceived Eve by his craftiness, your minds should be led astray from the simplicity and purity of devotion to Christ.” 2 Corinthians 11:3

Is my life an example of a God-filled, Christ-saved, Spirit-led life? Does the light of Christ in me shine before men? I am saved by faith alone, yes, but does my walk involve deeds of righteousness? “In all things show yourself to be an example of good deeds, with purity in doctrine, dignified, sound in speech which is beyond reproach, in order that the opponent may be put to shame, having nothing bad to say about us.” Titus 2:7, 8

Do I meet with others to share the word? Am I willing to learn from godly men and women? Do I desire growth and maturity? Do I follow after the gospel of Christ or the gospel of man—self help and self edification? “Not forsaking our own assembling together, as is the habit of some, but encouraging one another…” Hebrews 10:25

Have I asked God to reveal to me my spiritual gifts? Am I neglecting my gifts? Am I utilizing and growing that gift in my home as directed by the Spirit? Do I let my desire to be seen functioning within that gift take me away from my first responsibility and ministry—that of my family and home? Am I exercising my gift in a manner that is pleasing to God and approved of by my husband? “Since we have gifts that differ according to the grace given to us, let each exercise them accordingly…” Romans 12:6

Let’s look at the next section of 1 Timothy once more… “Take pains with these things; be absorbed in them”. The words “take pains” here is the Greek word meletao and it means “to care for, practice, study, meditate, be diligent with”. The verb tense, “present imperative”, strengthens the word as it commands one to continue in or keep repeating the action. Now I don’t know about you, but that kind of sounds like passion to me!

Let’s not forget that last part of verse 15… “so that your progress may be evident to all.” And isn’t that what we all want? To progress in our spiritual life, in our walk with the Lord! Not only will my maturity in Christ be evident to me…no, the promise given here is that my stepping upward with God will be “evident to all”!

Here is another beauty of a promise as we close out the chapter in 1 Timothy…

“Pay close attention to yourself and to your teaching; persevere in these things; for as you do this you will insure salvation both for yourself and for those who hear you.” 1 Timothy 4:16

We learn by way of example. One of the reasons God sent Jesus to earth was to give us THE example to pattern our lives after. In following Jesus, his “followers” learned from Him how to live a life pleasing to God—a life of passion! Paul expressed this “example following” in Philippians 3:17-21, “Brethren, join in following my example and observe those who walk according to the pattern you have in us.” This was the instruction that Paul was now giving to Timothy.

Who is paying close attention to and following after me? Who is hearing from me the most, who do I teach? That’s right…my children! In following after these passions of God fervently, paying close attention to my walk in Christ, I am not only securing my own salvation but I am doing what I can to encourage that my children choose Christ for themselves. I am not their personal Holy Spirit. I cannot make them chose to live a life for Christ. But my actions will go far in impressing upon their hearts the blessing of a life lived pursuing righteousness. In living a life of passion for Christ, I will be giving my children the example to follow. He instructs parents to this end in Proverbs 22:6, “Train up a child in the way he should go, even when he is old he will not depart from it.”

So…GOT PASSION? If not, then I highly encourage you to get some… :)