Whatever Happens...

  • July 12, 2011
  • #7617

Joni shares wisdom from Philippians about conducting ourselves in a manner worthy of the gospel.

Whatever Happens...

Whatever happens, conduct yourself in a manner worthy of the gospel.

And that's a wonderful verse from Philippians, isn't it! Hi, I'm Joni Eareckson Tada and I came across that verse when I was reading the first chapter of Philippians last weekend. And I had to stop when I came to the 27th verse: "Whatever happens, conduct yourselves in a manner worthy of the gospel." Well, right away, I knew that verse was meant for me. Boy was I convicted! Because I know that if I don't watch it, this is what I tend to do: the Bible says to be merciful, right? Well, I think to myself, Hmmm… I was forgiving of others this week… I overlooked some pretty glaring faults… And I'm usually quick to extend grace when people hurt me; yeah, I do give people a wide berth for their mistakes, so… Yes, I think I'm pretty merciful. Or the Bible says to be thankful, and so I think to myself, Hey, I know I've got this one in the bag; man, I've spent a lifetime in this wheelchair cultivating an attitude of gratitude. Yep, I'm thankful all right! Or the Bible says to be generous with those in need, and so I reason, Well, my husband and I do tithe regularly and we give to the deacons fund after every communion, and if somebody asks for something, if it's within reason, I give what I can. Yeah, yeah… I'd call myself a generous person!

Do you see what I've done there? And if you thought about it, you do it, too. I know you do. Because although we are forgiven and have a new nature, we are still fallen human beings and as such, we have a tendency to look at our own conduct as the standard of virtue. We measure the Christianly-ness of our Christian life by our own good behavior, by how merciful we are or how grateful or generous we are… And so you know what? Because we judge ourselves by ourselves, we think we're doing okay and living as we should. We've pretty made mercy and gratitude and generosity and a whole list of other virtues… We've made them our own. When in fact, they’re the Bible’s. The Bible says we are to conduct ourselves in a manner worthy of the gospel. And when we do that, when the gospel’s the focus, when we're looking into the mirror of God's law rather than our own reflection, we'll see real quickly we are not merciful; we are stubborn and unforgiving… We are not grateful; we are in fact ingrates… We're not generous; we're stingy and miserly.

Oh, friend, if you want to get a true assessment of your virtues, then read; I mean, really read what the gospel asks of you. And then, like Philippians 1:27 says, whatever happens, whatever(your name gets dragged through the mud this week… Your coworker climbs over you to get that promotion… a family in your church has nowhere to stay and you've got two big guestrooms and an extra bath), whatever happens this week, try conducting yourself in a manner worthy of the gospel. I guess a parallel verse to that would be in Colossians 3. Although it doesn't say "whatever happens," it says "Whatever you do, do all in the name of the Lord Jesus." Same thing, right? We examine our own conduct by God and his gospel. And, oh, friend… Just think of how different this world would be if we all truly lived this way. It would revolutionize our lives… And our families, and our churches, and neighborhoods and communities – my goodness, it might even be the spark which sets ablaze the fires of revival across our land. So whatever you do today, whatever happens, behave the way the gospel expects you to, and you'll never be the same. And don’t forget, please remember to visit me today at joniandfriends.org.

© Joni and Friends

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