At first glance, this chapter seems like an impossible to-do list, one at which we are sure to fail. Good thing we don’t have to do it on our own.
My infomation chart has two columns: one for me and one for how I interact with others.
|God + Me||How I Relate with Others as “God + Me”|
|Empty myself of pride & self-promotion (3)||We are all part of one body & serve different functions, in the same way as physical body. Join together to contribute to function of the whole. (4-5)|
|Focus on what God has given to me: my unique gifts & abilities. (6)||Treat others with genuine love, respect, honor, and willingness to play second fiddle. (9)|
|Be what I am made to be; do what I am made to do. (6-7)||Work hard & serve God and each other with enthusiasm. (11)|
|Don’t compare myself with others or judge them. (8)||Let God fill you with His fruits: patience, hospitality, love, kindness, goodness, gentleness. (12-13)|
|Know yourself as God made you. (6-8)||Bless your enemies rather than revenge. (14-16)|
|Laugh; celebrate; grieve; show sympathy, empathy, & generosity. (17-20)|
|Run from evil; hang onto good. (10) Don’t let evil get the best of you; get the best of evil by doing good. (21)|
In The Message, Eugene Peterson’s transliteration of the Bible, he ends verse 3 this way: “God brings it all to you. The only accurate way to understand ourselves is by what God is and by what he does for us, not by what we are and what we do for him.” This is, I believe, the heart of this message from God, through Paul.
When I look at this chapter with myself in the center of the frame, I am overwhelmed with the responsibility and impossibility of being and living as the person God designed me to be. I CAN’T DO IT ON MY OWN. I have to quit taking selfies with myself in the front of the scenery and people in my life. Instead, I need to use the light, and the lenses, and the battery power that the Holy Spirit provides. I need to get myself–my pride and selfish desires–out of the way. When I keep them between me and God, His light doesn’t shine through, and all my pictures are dark. But when I first focus on God, the whole picture changes.
In this day of selfies, we view our lives with ourselves up front and center. God says, “That’s my spot. Move over so I can carry you through.”