Thursday, July 3, 2014

Conversations With Peter - Part SIX: Warm Friendliness

Friday, July 4, 2014
So don’t lose a minute in building on what you’ve been given, complementing your basic faith with good character, spiritual understanding, alert discipline, passionate patience, reverent wonder, warm friendliness, and generous love, each dimension fitting into and developing the others.  With these qualities active and growing in your lives, no grass will grow under your feet, no day will pass without its reward as you mature in your experience of our Master Jesus.  Without these qualities you can’t see what’s right before you, oblivious that your old sinful life has been wiped off the books.   2 Peter 1:5 - 9 (TMSG)
So far the teaching of Peter has touched on the “inward” disciplines of developing character, spiritual understanding, patience and a worshipful spirit.  These are like seeds planted and developing beneath the soil.  Now the tender vine peeks above ground level and begins to show the kind of fruit which will benefit others…brotherly affection(NLT).
There is a great lesson to be gleaned here, namely – what you offer your fellow Christian will be no greater than what you’ve first offered to God
Remember, Peter urges us to build on our basic faith, to complement it with the inner strength of the fruit of the Spirit.  As we grow strong in understanding, patience, worship and strength of godly character, we become better equipped to do the more mature work of strengthening other believers.
I’ve got this unruly patch of uneven land that seems to dare me to grow grass.  I’ve tried it all; I’ve paid others to give it their best shot.  Most of my lawn looks like the bald spot I’m cultivating on the back of my head!
I’m no grass expert, but I’ve read and talked with those who claim to be, and there’s one so-called “rule” that keeps coming up in the discussion – the best solution to a healthy lawn is growing grass!
Wow, Russell – that’s really deep!
Seriously; the “experts” say that choking-out weeds is best done by having healthy grass.  When grass is healthy it grows thicker, stronger and more powerfully than weeds.  Strength builds strength!
Now, you didn’t open this file to read about my grass woes – but it helps me make the point here today – grass grows in clumps; some varieties have runners, but all kinds are dependent on the community of grass for health. 
It’s like that with God’s children and brotherly (warm) friendliness.  Adding to our basic faith all the personal, inward disciplines Peter’s been charging us to develop is like growing the clump of our Christian grass…getting stronger, greener, more like God intended. 
But now, Peter says, let’s take this corporation public; let’s be part of the community with warmth towards our Christian family; let’s work together hand-in-hand to help choke-out the weeds that inhibit your sister’s growth and your brother’s ministry.
It’s time for the well-developed seed of faith to sprout and offer fruit.  And, as with the kind of grass lawn (of which I can only dream), the strength I’ve developed with all those inner qualities of character, worship, patience and wisdom, is now offered, and belongs to my Christian family. 
For You, Today
If you’re something of an introvert (like me), as a grass, you tend to grow in a “private clump”.  So this will hurt.
It’s time to focus a little less on what’s happening underneath the ground with all that good character, worshipful spirit, patience and wisdom.  It’s time to put all that inward growth in motion to the outside - with warm friendliness, brotherly affection – care and concern for your Christian family.
Don’t worry too much about that…just be ready to start with the first person you greet today.

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