Word for the Week
Short reflections on Bible passages, with a frontline focus...
Bless those who persecute you; bless and do not curse.
Do not merely listen to the word, and so deceive yourselves. Do what it says. Anyone who listens to the word but does not do what it says is like someone who looks at his face in a mirror and, after looking at himself, goes away and immediately forgets what he looks like.
In this series, we’re walking through the four simple steps used in Growing on the Frontline, our new group resource, to help us grow in maturity and fruitfulness. Over the last three weeks we’ve looked at reflecting on what’s happening around and within us, receiving wisdom from the Bible, and renewing our perspective. This week, we finish with how we can respond to the opportunities around us.
Being undermined by something a friend or colleague has said about you isn’t a pleasant experience.
How would you react? Perhaps with your best rhino impressions, starting an argument. Or perhaps you’re a hedgehog: roll into a ball and hope the problem goes away.
That’s more my style – I hate confrontation! It’s exactly what I did when a colleague told my boss he thought I wasn’t up to the job. For a while I kept quiet. But then I started to reflect on the situation and noticed I was feeling threatened all the time. I had to do something.
Should I confront him? Would it make any difference? And then I remembered God’s wisdom in Romans 12: ‘Bless those who persecute you; bless and do not curse.’ Yeah, right. Why on earth would I bless this guy?
But as time went on and the situation continued, I slowly accepted the truth of that verse. I received what God was trying to tell me. I asked God to help me understand what to do: to renew my thinking about my colleague. As a result, I ended up responding in a way I’d never imagined: I invited him to lunch.
It could have been the most awkward meal of my life, but it turned out to be a really helpful conversation about why he was unhappy with me. I learnt something about him and about myself – and our relationship improved.
All four of those Rs were needed for that fruitful outcome. But it certainly wouldn’t have happened if I hadn’t actually done something in response to the wisdom God showed me through his word. I had to let it soak into my heart and change my thoughts and my actions.
What’s more, that fruitful response wasn’t just an end result: as James suggests, our Christlike actions are part of the process of growing into mature disciples. We learn by doing.
Think back for a moment. What’s been the effect of taking fruitful action in your own life? How has it influenced you the next time a similar opportunity came your way?
Over the last four weeks, I’ve shared some of the struggles I’ve faced in being fruitful on my frontline. But those times of struggle can become gateways to growth if we learn to notice what’s going on inside us – and cooperate with God as he shapes us.
May we join with God to grow into fruitful disciples – wherever we are.
Co-author of Growing on the Frontline
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