When was the last time we all got some Great Advice?Those few little words that someone said that cleared up an enduring frustration? Or maybe we heard a podcast or seminar or preaching or read a book that gave us some new perspective and helped us to move on from something that was stressing us out?
We all know that the Bible is our greatest source for some Great Advice. We can open it to any page and find nuggets of wisdom that clear our heads of all the noise that life sends our way. He uses people as well to speak clarity to us, but it is usually based on His Word and presented to us from a different viewpoint that helps us to see things a bit clearer.
Years ago, I would stress myself out about all the great things I was learning from my reading and from my pastor’s messages. I was overwhelmed at all the areas of my life that needed an overhaul. But one day, I came across a verse that calmed me and gave me some clear thinking, (some Great Advice) about the long list I had written in my head of things that needed to be fixed in myself and in my life. This is the verse:
** And herein I give my advice: for this is expedient for you, who have begun before, not only to do, but also to be forward a year ago. ** 2 Corinthians 8:10 (italics mine)
The first part that caught my attention was: ** …to do, but also to be**….
You see, my list was all about the to-do’s. So many things I needed to fix. Now, the verse does tell us to ‘do’. We are not to just sit around and expect the Lord to wave a magic wand over our lives and fix everything for us. It takes work to apply what we read and we hear.
But, what got my attention even more was the ‘to be’ part. My eyes were opened so I could see that my new life in Christ was not just about doing. It was not about completing my list of Christian activities. More importantly, it was about who I was and who I could become.
Because transformation is about what is happening on the inside and not about what we are doing on the outside. I needed to change my goals from doing all the right Christian things to being more like the One who was trying to change me.
My focus needed to change from being at all the church services, volunteering for all the ministries and reading a ton of chapters every day, to learning who Jesus is and what was there about Him that I should be imitating. All of those things are great starting points, but the Lord is more interested in the inner workings than He is the outer activities.
The things about Jesus that I had to learn were: How did He treat people? How did He treat children? Women? As a woman, how should I deal with men in my life?
And me, specifically, what should be my thoughts, my words, my attitudes and my reactions?
All of that was more demanding than all the volunteering. It required focus. It required conscious decisions on how to deal with my day-to-day life.
The frustrating thing that happened though was that I was still frustrated! I had made a good decision to focus more on the changes in me that needed to happen, but I was still trying to ‘get it done’.
Until I finally looked at the last part of the verse. **but also to be forward a year ago.**
It hit me like a lightning bolt! Don’t try to learn it all or do it all or be all you need to be today!!!
I just needed to take it one day at a time. Grow and change in millimeters every day. And next year I would be ahead of where I was last year. I would be a little better. A little more like Jesus. By this time next year, I can still be a little more gracious, and merciful, and kind. I can be more patient, wiser and more charitable. Next year, I can and will be ahead of where I am today, if I just stay close to Him and listen for the changes He is trying to make in me. I don’t need to be stressed or put overly high expectations on myself. None of us do.
2 Corinthians 8 gives us some Great Advice. It encourages us to ‘do’. It encourages us to ‘be’. But mostly, it encourages us to be better tomorrow than we are today. Just a little bit.