The Praise of the Brethren

Every morning at work, except Mondays, our whole warehouse–about 20 people–gets together to sing a couple songs and give some quick encouragement for the day. We take 15 or 20 minutes, but it’s incredibly refreshing.

Last week, a sister had the great idea of drawing names and giving each other some brief encouragement, talking about the good we saw in the person whose name we drew.

Yesterday, we finished that up, and whoever had my name–funny, I don’t remember who–said a couple really nice things about me. Then 2 or 3 others added to that.

Fortunately, an older and wiser brother there put a stop to that and moved us on to other things.

It reminded me of the days, however, when I used to be fooled by that kind of praise.

In Me Nothing Good Dwells

Have you ever taken praise to heart and decided that you were a particularly good Christian?

I have.

Repeatedly.

As a result, I know firsthand that the Lord disiplines, chastens, and reproves the ones he loves.

I figure the one bit of praise it might be okay to give me is that I really know that in me, nothing good dwells.

I’ve been a Christian 27 years. It took me 18 years to really believe Romans 7:18.

Giving Glory to God

I read a newsletter a couple years ago in which a minister testified that he had not knowingly sinned in 23 years.

Wow.

I must not be a Christian.

I’ve learned not to spend time worrying about that. I figure I’m just a hopeless case, and I really should be spending my time trying to help God and others. (Ok, so God doesn’t need help. However, as one further act of kindness towards us, he lets us help him fulfill his purposes.)

I don’t know how much time you’ve devoted to being a really good Christian, but I’ve devoted a lot of time and effort to being a really good Christian. As far as I can tell, it turned God’s stomach.

The word of God to me has been, “Every time you think about yourself or mention yourself to others–unless you really believe it will help them–I’m going to make you miserable. You’ll regret it . . . bad.”

Okay, I don’t think God talks like that. I’m just translating from the spiritual language down inside to inadequate English words as best I can.

I met that minister that hasn’t sinned in 23 years. Neither my friends nor I liked him. God bless him; may he be a blessing to others, but may God bless me to never be like him.

A Good Christian

God isn’t interested in you being a good Christian. At least, that’s what I believe.

God’s interested in you being a good servant. May you go to your grave never knowing whether you were a good Christian or not.

When you quit wasting your time being a good Christian, you can ask God what good works he created way back in the beginning for you to do (Eph. 2:10), and you can get busy doing them. Run your course!

Then, when you die, I suspect you’ll find out what I’ve found out. God doesn’t love me because I’m a good Christian. God doesn’t back me up when I speak his Words because I’m an excellent minister of the Word of God.

God loves me because he’s infinitely good.

When I die, I want to be found saying what Paul said. “I finished my course. I ran the race. And now there is laid up for me a crown of glory like he has laid up for all the righteous.”

How will I know there’s a crown of glory? Because I know him. Because every time I look up, he’s there. He’s berating me when I’m trying to be awesome–or worse, ignoring me–and He’s loving me, forgiving me, strengthening me, giving me lots of undeserved power, and helping people through me . . . when I’m serving.

You know what I mean. “If you want to be great in the kingdom of God . . . ” and all that sort of thing . . .

About Paul Pavao

I am married, the father of six, and currently the grandfather of two. I run a business, live in a Christian community, teach, and I am learning to disciple others better than I have ever been able to before. I believe God has gifted me to restore proper foundations to the Christian faith. In order to ensure that I do not become a heretic, I read the early church fathers from the second and third centuries. They were around when all the churches founded by the apostles were in unity. I also try to stay honest and open. I argue and discuss these foundational doctrines with others to make sure my teaching really lines up with Scripture. I am encouraged by the fact that the several missionaries and pastors that I know well and admire as holy men love the things I teach. I hope you will be encouraged too. I am indeed tearing up old foundations created by tradition in order to re-establish the foundations found in Scripture and lived on by the churches during their 300 years of unity.
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1 Response to The Praise of the Brethren

  1. Nate Morales says:

    But Shammah, self righteousness and a works mentality feels so good. Who better to sing our praises than we ourselves. After all we know how hard we have been working at being good, being holy and most important – being right!
    God help me! Im a Pharisee. Full of dead man’s bones.

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