I must confess, I’m struggling to have a hopeful attitude toward 2013. When considering our nation’s cultural and political status, I’ve found myself wishing I could simply turn-on a positive outlook, but reality demands more than simple will-power. It requires something solid and practical, not cliché. With that being said, I offer a simple story from last Saturday.
Recently, as we were taking down Christmas decorations, I went to the basement to build some shelves to stack them on. As I started cutting the lumber, I heard my six year-old son say “Hey Daddy, can I help?” Of course, as a Dad I wanted his help, but navigating the “how” part (with an obvious skill level limitation) required patience. Thankfully last Saturday, the Holy Spirit reminded me to value the time and spend a few extra moments to do it right (in the past, I’ve often let mission-mindedness interfere). My son used the tools I’ve set aside for him to “build” something of his own and then he helped me in a practical way by holding tools and handing me nails. It was great and I’m glad he was there. As we were finishing, I thought about how it mirrored my relationship with God.
As the Master Carpenter, the Lord is busy working on a grand project and I’m standing there holding a hammer asking “Can I help?” Of course in His patient way, He brings me over, gives me a small project to work on, but soon I’m tempted to look at the big stuff He’s building. Simply because I’m in the workshop, I start thinking I’m qualified to critique His work. This past year has been one where I don’t understand a lot of the project. There have been some very exciting things, but many confusing moments too. That’s where Luke 4 comes in.
While teaching through Luke, I read some commentary from Charles Swindoll concerning Jesus’ ministry method that started me thinking. If you want something solid to stand on this year consider how Jesus went about His work in difficult days. It’s very applicable for all of us as we look toward 2013. In Luke 4 we get a snapshot of His recurring habits and here are 4 things I hope to steadily do this year:
- Teach Truth (Luke 4:31-32) – Jesus’ teaching was different. Of course being God He handled the scripture with authority, but His style was to teach from the text. The spiritual leaders of the day spoke mostly of what the “chain” of interpretation was. There was minimal focus on the scripture itself. The Word should always be front and center. In every area of life, whether personal, parental, or vocational; my foundation should be the scripture, not just general attitudes cobbled together from various sources. It starts with honesty and first letting the truth speak to “me”, then to others.
- Confront Evil (Luke 4: 33-37, 41) – Evil is real. Jesus dealt with it directly. In our society the norm is to deal with symptoms or consequences of evil, not the source. Jesus was always about the source. He had the authority then, He has the authority now. Suit up daily with His armor to stand firm (Ephesians 6:10-18).
- Demonstrate Compassion (Luke 4:38-40) – Jesus often healed and ministered simply because of love. In verses 38-40 He’s busy healing late into the night. It wasn’t because He wanted to be validated or else He would have let the demons declare it in verse 35. It was compassion. I need to show compassion out of love…simply out of love that comes from Christ.
- Renew Strength (Luke 4:42-44) – Jesus often retreated for renewal. Time with the Father was an absolute priority for Him. Rest and solitude is a key ingredient for a proper attitude. The temptation is to be “on” all the time and let other people or circumstances dictate the agenda. Simple moments spent with the Lord, can neutralize a lot of anxious thoughts.
This year, I want to stand in the doorway of 2013 with a big smile on my face (like my son did), and say to the Lord, “Daddy, can I help?” I’m confident He knows just how I can.
Series: Thoughts on Luke – Luke 4:31-44