Girlfriends in God - Sept. 21, 2012

September 21, 2012
The Living Bible
Mary Southerland

Today’s Truth
Knowledge puffs you up with pride, but love builds up (1 Corinthians 8:1, NIV).

Friend to Friend 
His name was Bill, a college-student with wild hair who wore a T-shirt with holes in it, jeans, and no shoes for his entire four years of college. Bill was brilliant and what some might describe as quirky. While attending college, Bill became a Christian and began looking for a church to attend. 

Across the street from the campus was a very conservative church that wanted to reach the college students but was not sure how to go about it.  

One Sunday, Bill decided to visit the church and walked in, dressed in his usual college attire. Since the service had already started, Bill walked down the center aisle, looking for a seat. The church was packed and he couldn’t find an empty spot. By now, the well-dressed people are staring uncomfortably at the barefoot young man in his tattered T-shirt and jeans, but no one said a word. As Bill got closer to the pulpit, he realized that there were simply no seats, so he just squatted down on the carpet – a practice perfectly acceptable at college Bible studies but one that had probably never happened at this particular church.  

The people began to whisper and the air was thick with tension. As the pastor wondered what to do, he noticed a deacon slowly making his way from the back of the church toward Bill. The deacon was in his eighties, had beautifully combed silver-gray hair and was wearing a three-piece suit. He was a godly man, very elegant, and very dignified. He walked with a cane and, as he started walking toward the boy, everyone was thinking that no one could blame him for what he was about to do. After all, how could anyone expect a man of his age and background to understand the college kid now sitting on the floor?

It took a long time for the man to reach the boy but the only sound that could be heard was the clicking of the man’s cane. Every eye was focused on him and it seemed like everyone was holding their breath. The minister felt like there was no point in even trying to begin his sermon until the deacon completed his mission. Everyone simply waited.

When the elderly man reached the young college student, he dropped his cane on the floor and with great difficulty, lowered himself until he was sitting down next to Bill. The two men smiled at each other and then looked at the minister, ready to hear from God. When the pastor gained control of his emotions, he simply said, “What I’m about to preach, you will never remember. What you have just seen, you will never forget.”

We need to be careful how we live. We may be the only Bible some people ever read.

Knowledge – for the sake of knowledge – is worthless and can easily lead to pride and arrogance. But knowledge for the sake of love is priceless. In other words, no one really cares how much you know until they know how much you really care.

Knowledge is powerful and should be used in love and love should always be controlled by knowledge. God gives us the ability to understand the Bible and then wants us to use its truths to build each other up and meet the needs of others.

A preacher once said, “Some Christians grow. Others just swell.” Arrogance and pride are the result of knowledge that is misused. Knowledge can be a weapon of destruction or a tool of construction. It all depends on how it is used. We can know doctrine and never know God. We can grow in Bible knowledge but not grow in grace. We can attend church every time the doors are open but until we actually apply God’s truth to the way we live, something is lost in the way we translate the Good News of Jesus Christ.

I heard the story of four Bible scholars who were arguing over the best translation of the Bible. One said he preferred the King James Version because of its beautiful, eloquent old English. Another said he preferred the American Standard Bible for its literalism and accurate translation from the original text. A third man preferred the newer translations because of their practical application. The fourth scholar listened thoughtfully and then added, “Personally, I prefer my mother’s translation.” When the other men laughed, he explained, “My mother translates every page of the Bible into her daily life and it is the most convincing translation I have ever seen.”

I wonder. Do the people in my life better understand God because of the way I live? Is my life a living illustration of God’s love? Is the “Mary Southerland Translation” of the Bible authentic and real and pleasing to God? Lord, help me be Your Living Bible.

Let’s Pray
Father, I am amazed that You love me – no matter what I do or don’t do. Lord, I want others to look at my life and see You. Teach me Your ways. Give me Your strength and wisdom to live each day as a beautiful translation of Your unconditional love and grace.
In Jesus’ name,

Now It’s Your Turn
Pray for the people in your life and ask God to show you how to demonstrate His love in a tangible way to each one. Look for a need in each person’s life and then make a plan to meet that need.

Read John 3:16. Remember and celebrate the unconditional love of God by reaching out to someone who might live outside your comfort zone. In your journal, record your experience and what you learned and gained from that experience.

More from the Girlfriends
We should be more purposeful in sharing the love of God with people in need. The need may be financial or physical. Others just need a friend and a listening heart. Maybe a family member needs some of your time this week. I encourage you to be a living Bible to someone today.

Need help? Check out Mary’s E-Book Bible Study, Come As You Are and celebrate the unconditional love and unending mercy and grace of God.  

Looking for a Bible Study? Check out Mary’s weekly online Bible Study, Light for the Journey and learn how to discover and live out God’s plan and purpose for your life. (Join now and have access to all topics covered in 2012.) Be sure to connect with Mary on Facebook or through email.

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Matthews, NC 28106

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Originally published Friday, 21 September 2012.