Tuesday, December 27, 2005

Things To Do Today...

For the last several months I have been studying Peter's first letter to the scattered and persecuted church. I would love to say that I have been consistent with my studies of this epistle, but nonetheless, the study has spanned a several-month time span. Over the last few weeks, however, I have been rather consistent with each day working on portions of the analysis of his letter. The first thing that pops out at me is his use of lists to drive his point home as well as a way for his readers to enact automatic application.

For example, Peter begins chapter two,“Therefore, putting aside all malice and all deceit and hypocrisy and envy and all slander, like newborn babies, long for the pure milk of the word, so that by it you may grow in respect to salvation, if you have tasted the kindness of the Lord." (1 Peter 2:1-3 NASB)

This translates to my...

List of Things To Do:

1. Put aside all malice
2. Put aside all deceit
3. Put aside all hypocrisy
4. Put aside all envy
5. Put aside all slander

Confession: it is a struggle to put aside ALL malice, deceit, hypocrisy, envy, and slander. OK, I may do all right with not slandering folks today up until the point that their character is shattered, but I may let a little gossip just slip out. “But its true!" I think to myself as the uncleanliness of my lips spews forth. Well, I won’t be a hypocrite when so-and-so is here today. Note to self: any qualification of just about any statement of truth usually is a compromise that equates to sin. And deceit? Well, I deceive myself everyday into thinking that I’m really not that bad off in my sinful state (at least not as bad as the next guy) and that somehow my works will be able to grant me entrance into Heaven. According to Barna Research Group at least 54% of Americans agree with me.

Having said this, I find one more thing that I need to add to my “List of Things To Do”: rely on the righteousness that Christ gives me through His atoning and finishing work on the cross. Only through his work may any mere mortal inherit the gift of eternal life through adoption.

And if this first list were not enough for me to do today, Peter gives one more thing to do as well:

6. Long for the Word like a newborn baby

Why Peter? “So that by it you may grow in respect to salvation” (2:2). So I guess this spiritual growth is a mighty big deal for the Lord, eh? Exactly. Were I to become stagnate, my life might basically cease. And when my growth has been stunted I tend to feel basically lifeless. Consequently, when I exercise my “right” to practice malice, deceit, envy, slander, and so on, the result breeds lifelessness and it is all birthed out of the lack of longing for the Lord.

Lord, might You be pleased to grant me a spirit of longing for You? May I truly cry that as the deer pants for water, so is my soul longing for You. I want that to be my desire but I confess my hard-heartedness before and the many times that I don’t desire You. I am selfish and sometimes it is simply not convenient for me to be with You. I know this is wrong and I trust that You will effect Your work in me, for You are faithful to complete what it is that You have begun. By grace alone, amen.

1 comment:

TJ said...

It's interesting that you should mention these things. My mouth happens to be the focus of one of my "growth emphases" for 2006. I shall take a closer look at Peter's list and meditate on how these things are a part of me and how they must not be in order for my mouth to be tamer in the upcoming year and every year afterwards. This, also, is good food for the day. Thanks.