July 9, 2009
The Big Picture
Romans 12:4-5 “Just as each of us has one body with many members, and these members do not all have the same function; so in Christ we who are many form one body” (NIV).
Friend To Friend
In order to prevent pride, we must be Kingdom people, people who see the big picture. Instead, we tend to have tunnel vision and are usually concerned only with what affects us. After all, it really is so about us – right? What an easy and convenient way of thinking. It seems so logical and is definitely a less demanding way of life. But in doing so, we lose sight of God’s Kingdom plan and purpose.
Every believer has a gift that is meant to help the body of Christ grow and achieve balance – every believer including those sandpaper believers. You know exactly who I am talking about - those people who drive you nuts, push your buttons and then sit beside you in the worship service, singing the praise songs at the top of their voices. I have discovered that God uses these difficult relationships to keep my heart, mind and life focused on the big picture – His picture.
When living in Fort Lauderdale, our neighbors had a pool that we all enjoyed on those relentlessly brutal, hot and humid summer days. At first, I lamented the fact that we could not afford to have a pool but after watching my neighbor deal with the maintenance of his, I decided I had the best of both worlds.
It seemed as if every time I turned around, he was either going to or returning from the pool supply store. Maintaining the right level of chemicals seemed to be an almost impossible task. My neighbor fought the battle well, but still, the recurrent and slimy algae taxed his patience and checkbook. Finally, after several bouts with the green slime, now his relentless, formidable foe, my neighbor surrendered, hiring a professional pool service to do the job. Success resulted and the pool stayed beautiful and algae-free because of the right chemical balance.
Balance is hard to maintain – in swimming pools, in churches and in relationships – especially those relationships with sandpaper people, those people who rub us the wrong way. For the church and the relationships within the church to be balanced, every believer must function according to his or her God-given gifts. That is the plan.
“A spiritual gift is given to each of us as a means of helping the entire church.”
(1 Corinthians 12:7 NLT)
Spiritual gifts are neither toys nor weapons but rather tools that the Lord has placed in our hands to use in building the Kingdom of God. When we focus on the gift instead of the Giver, we are missing the big picture, the kingdom picture, and will find it easy to become a prisoner of pride, thinking that we have arrived and are more spiritual than others. Pride destroys unity and sets itself up against God, a very dangerous place to be.
Every gift, every believer and every relationship is important and has a unique purpose in the Kingdom. God is all about relationships. The very fact that He moved Heaven and Earth in order to make a relationship possible between God and man is nothing short of miraculous.
We may believe that our sandpaper person has little or nothing to offer in the way of serving God but scripture is clear that if they are believers, they are part of the plan and are gifted for service. I know – it just doesn’t seem possible, does it? To think that someone like my sandpaper person could be used in Kingdom work just as God chooses to use me just seems so unfair. But Romans 8:28 is either true or false when it says that “all” things work together for our good. To propose any other interpretation of that principle is to negate the Word of God. It is true that God uses all life offers, the good and bad circumstances as well as the difficult and easy relationships to work good in our lives and in His Kingdom.
Sandpaper people need to know that the ground at the foot of the cross is level and that whose they are matters more than who they are. Our own pride keeps us from seeing those abrasive people as God sees them, and loving them as God loves them. We need to choose God’s perspective of difficult people, knowing that His grace covers them just as it covers us and that we are all part of God’s big picture.
Lord, I ask that You would help me to keep Your big picture in mind when it comes to my relationships and the part they play in Your Kingdom work. I don’t want to be divisive, Lord. I want to be an instrument of peace, loving even those who drive me nuts! Help me to serve with joy…in love. Use me to illustrate Your love to those who feel unloved. Help me wage peace instead of allowing my selfish and prideful attitudes control my behavior. I love You and thank You for the amazing privilege of being Your child and of serving You.
In Jesus’ name,
Now It’s Your Turn
- Identify those “sandpaper people” in your life and in your church.
- What has been your attitude toward them in the past?
- What changes do you need to make in how you treat those difficult people and how you encourage them to use their gifts in service?
- Make a plan this week to encourage one difficult person in their service to God.
- Pray for that person every day this week and then examine the changes God makes in your heart.
More From The Girlfriends
I have to admit that for every problem, I have an opinion and a solution. Really! If I could rule the world, I am certain that I could solve a whole lot of problems in a hurry! Sounds like pride, doesn’t it? Only because it is! I really believe God allows certain people to come into my life in order to break my pride and to remind me of God’s amazing grace that allows me to live, breathe and serve. I pray that you and I will, day by day, moment by moment, focus on the big picture of a tiny baby in a manger, a cruel cross, an empty tomb and a coming King!
Interested in learning more about dealing with sandpaper people? God gave me enough material for a whole book…that is available to you - Sandpaper People.
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Originally published Thursday, 09 July 2009.