Tag Archive | Paul

Giving off the Scale

Verse:  Philippians 2:1–11

Do nothing out of selfish ambition or vain conceit. Rather, in humility value others above yourselves, not looking to your own interests but each of you to the interests of the others. — Philippians 2: 3–4

John Powell describes different kinds of relationships, including one he calls “pan-scale love.” A pan scale is what Lady Justice carries. She stands blindfolded atop a courthouse with pans held by chains at both ends of a balance beam.

Powell says that many of us enter courtship or marriage with a pan-scale commitment. In the exhilaration of first falling in love, we give 100 percent of ourselves to our mate, and our end of the pan scale hangs heavy with love’s offerings. For a week or a month or even a year, we don’t check to see whether the pan scale is balanced because we assume our partner is also devoting 100 percent to the relationship.

But, says Powell, there comes a time when we begin to analyze which way the pan-scale balance beam is tipping. Invariably, as much as we love our spouse, we begin to recognize that he or she isn’t investing quite as much as we are.

So we pull back a little. Maybe she doesn’t pick up the clothes that he carelessly leaves in corners of the bedroom. Perhaps he doesn’t offer a cheery “hello” and warm kiss when she walks in the door. Maybe she doesn’t stop to pick up the dry cleaning or he forgets to gas up the car. This gradual lessening of giving doesn’t usually mean coming up short on the scale of big things; rather, it’s little cuts that over time begin adding up to the message: “I’ve been giving 100 percent to this relationship, and you’re only offering 87 percent. If you won’t put your full load of love on your end of the pan scale, I’m going to pull some of mine back to even things up.”

The trouble is, such efforts at balancing the pan scale of love only backfire. Typically, when partners begin to notice that the scales aren’t even, they each begin to think they are giving more than the other. The response is a subtle but progressive retaliatory cutback on a full deposit.

It may take a while, but if left unchecked, pan-scale love will eventually bankrupt a relationship. As I view my investments as overmatching my partner’s, my mate, from another vantage point, feels similarly cheated. If we check the nuptial agreements and try to reclaim what we believe is rightfully ours, Lady Justice is left with empty scales.

How much better to be known, as the Philippians were, for their generosity. People in that church sensed Paul’s needs and, without being asked, sent him gifts time after time. Paul regarded those surprises, their over-the-top giving, as “a fragrant offering, an acceptable sacrifice, pleasing to God” (Philippians 4:18). God asks each of us to bring him an offering according to what our heart prompts us to give, not one that matches what God gives us—that’s impossible and we know it.

Likewise, we are to give to our partner in marriage—without weighing it against what’s being offered on the other side, with humble thanks for each other, with sincere appreciation for each other, with gratitude for the opportunity to meet each other’s needs without being asked. Then our giving will be an off-the-scale fragrant offering to each other, an acceptable sacrifice that is pleasing to God.

—Wayne Brouwer

Let’s Talk

• In what ways do we treat our giving in marriage as pan-scale love? When have we felt cheated?

• How can we increase the level of generosity in our relationship? What gifts do each of us bring? How might they be used to strengthen our marriage?

• How can each of us invest more in our marriage without worrying about whether we’re getting a good deal?

This devotion is from the Couples’ Devotional Bible by Zondervan. Used with permission.

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Discipline is an Example

 

1 Tim 4:16:  “Be conscientious about how you live and what you teach.Persevere in this, because by doing so you will save both yourself and those who listen to you” (NET).

Being prepared for Godly parenting requires a close, daily walk with God.  After all, He is the father of all mankind.  He has had billions of children!  And, He has recorded his thoughts and experience as an example for our parenting journey.  Read the Bible through the lens of parenting and you will be amazed at the wealth of knowledge it contains.

In this passage, Paul tells Timothy he needs to be disciplined in his life before he can be effective in the lives of others.  Later he tells him where the ultimate example is found, “All Scripture is God-breathed and is useful for teaching, rebuking, correcting and training in righteousness, so that the man of God may be thoroughly equipped for every good work” (2 Tim 3:16-17 NIV).

Bible study helps you emulate God and lets His wisdom shine through you.

 

Relationships: Exhortation

READ 2 TIMOTHY 2:14–21

Leadership is an art. As such it consists of skills that can be studied, practiced and mastered. Effective leaders may be found in the boardroom and in the boiler room. They may be teachers, coaches, bankers, lawyers, service station attendants or food servers. Among the relational skills effective leaders cultivate is that of exhortation. Exhorters are people who spur others on to higher levels of achievement.

In doing so, they help turn their constituents into leaders. Effective leaders accomplish extraordinary things by enabling others to act.

The apostle Paul demonstrated this ability in 2 Timothy 2:14–21. Paul began with a general exhortation for Timothy to “present [him]self to God as one approved” (v. 15). He then offered specific guidelines as to how Timothy could accomplish this through his study and teaching of God’s Word. Finally, he offered a negative illustration followed by a positive one: Timothy was not to be like Hymenaus and Philetus, who had strayed from the truth. Instead, he was to be like a gold vessel in a great house. That vessel, when kept clean and polished, would be used by the Master for a noble purpose.

Effective leaders, like Paul, use a variety of communication techniques to exhort those around them to strive for higher levels of performance. In so doing, they enable those they touch to be better prepared for their own leadership roles.

Take another look at the passage and review Paul’s approach to exhorting Timothy. How do you think Timothy responded to Paul’s words? We know that, through Paul’s exhortation and the Spirit’s work in his life, Timothy became a great leader in the early church. Is there someone you know who might be spurred on to great things as a result of your exhortation? How can you adapt Paul’s techniques to your own situation?

Exhortation and Who I Am

Some of us are more comfortable with confrontation than others, but there are times when confrontation is the most loving thing we can do for another person. Similarly, being rebuked by another person can be uncomfortable, but our openness and willingness to respond to correction are critical components of our character. Turn to Mark 6:14–29 for a negative illustration of a prophetic exhortation and the recipient’s response.

Exhortation and How It Works

When people make inadvertent or careless mistakes, the leader’s responsibility to exhort them is tough enough. When people sin and need exhortation, the job is just that much more difficult. Through Paul, God provides help in Galatians 6:1–5.

Exhortation and Who God Is

God always cares for his people and desires what is best for them. This is why he taught and exhorted the children of Israel through the many prophets he sent into their midst. Their future, for good or for ill, depended upon their responses to God’s loving exhortations. Turn to Deuteronomy 28:1–19 for an account of Moses’ final exhortation to his people.

Exhortation and What I Do

Few things are more difficult for a leader than to give a firm rebuke to a team member. Yet the apostle Paul urges his readers to do just that. Bob Briner helps us to identify those situations in which a rebuke is appropriate. Turn to 2 Timothy 4:2 for today’s reading.

Passage to memorize this week:
COLOSSIANS 3:16–17 Let the word of Christ dwell in you richly as you teach and admonish one another with all wisdom . . . And whatever you do, whether in word or deed, do it all in the name of the Lord Jesus, giving thanks to God the Father through him.

Growing Pains

2 Thessalonians 1:3–6

Additional Scripture Readings: Psalm 92:12–13

1 Thessalonians 3:12–13

As moms, our days can be so hectic we can’t tell whether we’re coming or going, much less growing. We can stand our five-year-old against the wall and see tangible evidence of growth by marking a spot two inches above last year’s measurement. But when we look at our own lives, sometimes all we can see growing are our toenails! Infants don’t praise us when we master patience, and our school-age children won’t notice if we clean up our thought life. When we go to the wall to mark our progress, our growth may not be apparent to us.

Sometimes we need to see the reflection of our growth in someone else’s eyes. Paul offers such a gift to the Thessalonians—a gift that meets their need and reveals our own. He praises their growth.

We can share our internal goals with our husband and ask him for feedback. We could record our thoughts and progress in a journal. Or we can share with a friend how we’d like to grow and ask her to hold us accountable.

As we grow, we have Paul’s assurance that God will count us worthy of his calling and that he will fulfill every good purpose in our lives (see 2 Thessalonians 1:11).