When I was working in the lumber department at Lowes, I interacted with many construction workers and others of the like, which are different than my mindset in different ways. While I worked up the stamina to load building materials off the shelf and onto trailers with the best of them, but I did not have the rougher mindset that most construction workers have. I saw a man one day in the lumber department digging a knife into his hand and when I asked what he was doing, he said, “I have a splinter deep in my hand and I’m trying to get it out.” When I expressed that I didn’t think I could do such a thing, he profoundly replied, “Well I either leave it there and my hand will get infected or I use a knife and get it out now. It’s better to go through a little pain now to get it out than to have an infection later.”
The man digging the splinter out of his hand illustrated a spiritual need that is difficult. As he was a realist on the dangers of his reality (having a splinter) and need for temporary pain to secure future health, we need be such a realist with our spiritual lives. James writes in James 4:6-10 about the need for acknowledging sin and repenting of it. He writes in verse 6, “God opposes the proud, but gives grace to the humble.” If we are too proud to admit sin and handle, God will be opposed to us. If we are humble, likened to the construction worker, we will use a spiritual knife to cut out sin, despite the discomfort it causes. In contrast, when we are willing to be humble about the changes that need to be made, God exalts us. The result of cutting out the bad and being exalted by God? God is no longer opposed to us but fighting for us. “If God is for us, who is against us?” (Romans 8:31).
Though some of us do not enjoy learning the details of past events, history is frequently used in the Biblical text as reference point for connecting with readers to teach them. In the mid-60s AD, Christians were undergoing vast amounts of persecution and Peter was writing to give them hope. Peter used Noah as a historical illustration in 1 Peter 3:17-21 to latch onto the readers’ minds. Though the water of the flood was judgement upon the disobedient, it was salvation for Noah and his family. The Jewish mind would have understood that well. Peter used that to say that the suffering taking place for them was beneficial for salvation if they handled it through the hope of their salvation.
Likened to the intended readers of Peter, Christians today can get very worn down by the pressure and the varied forms of persecution that the world inflicts. When the world claims we are too different, it gets easier to think about giving up. When the world hates us for denouncing “new social norms” because it is against Scripture, it gets easier to think about giving up. When we are called judgmental for maintaining God’s judgements, it gets easier to think about giving up. Scripture is God’s absolute standard, which acts as judgement for the disobedient and salvation for the faithful Christian. Noah endured 120 years of what had to have been difficult persecution, then justice was served. History does, indeed, teach. As the readers of Peter’s letter were being encouraged to stand firm in the hope that was in them through persecution, we should also not be pressured to crumble. As the equivalent waters of judgement and the waters of salvation rise, let us heed Paul’s words in 1 Corinthians 15:58. “Therefore, my beloved brethren, be steadfast, immovable, always abounding in the work of the Lord, knowing that your toil is not in vain in the Lord.”
Sports with hand-eye-coordination has never really been a possibility or an interest for me, but I ran cross country through almost all my middle school and high school career. Some people scoff when that is my answer to whether I played sports, but there is a great deal of effort that goes into such an art as running. If your intents are sincere and long-term, you start at the gym to build the toned muscles that are needed. You need to run five to six days per week with some very high mileage on some days. You need to psyche yourself out to get in the mindset and then be very focused through the race. Then you go right back to being dedicated to training throughout the season so you do not lose what you have fought for so hard. You must have increasing discipline to not be in constant struggle and losing your own gain. You have a goal in mind for a race or general training and that is your entire aim.
In 1st Corinthians 9, Paul pours out his heart about the great desire and even compulsion he feels to preach the gospel. Everything in him urges his life to be about serving others through the gospel. Chapter 9 and verses 26 and 27 say, “therefore I run in such a way, as not without aim…but I discipline my body and make it my slave, so that, after I have preached to others, I myself will not be disqualified.” We are unquestionably expected by God to be servants, which is kind of like the race for which we’ve been training. But imagine you are a bucket and you only pour out what you have; you would go dry soon, no? Paul says that he actively disciplines himself so that after he has poured himself out into others, he is not left empty. We, too, need to train ourselves for the season of running to still be healthy and have endurance even after the race is over. Therefore, intentionally be renewed and transformed daily in Christ.
I was recently sitting on the back porch of a friend’s apartment and his son came out to say good night and “I love you.” As soon as the final “I love you” was uttered, the young vessel full of life began to cry. My friend told me that he cries every night when it is time for bed. Why is that though? I pondered immediately the desired activity and the mind of a young child. Children want to play; they want to be adventurous and explore and be involved. With such eager and curious minds of what they could do, they often fight the concept of ending the day having to go to sleep. Is it possible that we should be more like children in this way?
We sing a song entitled “We’ll Work till Jesus Comes.” It has a great meaning and is motivational in the moment, but what if it was a thoroughly true statement concerning our spiritual intentions. Paul says in 1 Corinthians 15:58, “Therefore, my beloved brethren, be steadfast, immovable, always abounding in the work of the Lord, knowing that your toiling is not in vain in the Lord.” We are to always be abounding in the work of the Lord and we should gain immense joy from being involved in the work of the Lord and the fruit of it (Philemon 7). If we want to follow the example of the apostles in a way we can and turn the world upside down with the gospel (Acts 17:6), where is our heart on the matter? If our hearts are truly set where Christ is and our life is hidden in Him as Paul talks about in Colossians 3, His work should consume us. Children do not want the day to end because they are consumed with playing and being adventurous and they don’t want it to stop. What if we were sad to see the day end because we had to stop praying, studying, and working for the Lord in order to sleep?
My name is Kyle Melvin and it appears I am going to try my hand at writing. This blog is entitled with a bit of play on words of a couple things that thrill my heart. I love coffee for one and I think the grace of God is breathtaking, and I feel it takes some caffeinated words to attempt to illustrate the unmerited kindness that He pours out on His children. This blog is hopeful in giving some simple illustrations and encouragement that points your day a degree or two more toward God’s beauty.
I am simply a young man seeking to be a servant in this life to God Almighty. One thing that motivates me is the short yet deep thought that this life is incredibly short and eternity is unfathomably long; that challenges me to examination and the change of life pursuits when necessary, which has happened over the last couple years. I am from Paintsville, Kentucky where my teenage years had foundation in a strong youth group as well as short term mission work from the age of fourteen to present-day. The end of my teenage years was rather unfocused lending chances of the life I have now quite slim. By God’s grace upon His child, I have seen open doors for growth. Two years ago, I found out about a Hispanic ministry needing help, which seemed to be a good opportunity for my novice hands, so I drove to Texas for six weeks. Additionally, the last two summers I have had the opportunity to preach at a congregation in California. I have come to realize that my life absolutely must always be about my Father’s business as I continually fall in love with the beauty that overflows from heaven. I am currently a student at the Southeast Institute of Biblical Studies in Knoxville, Tennessee to prepare me for a life of a servant. Technology is one way to access the world as a spokesperson for God’s unmerited kindness and I pray that, no matter the medium through which I speak, my words are caffeinated enough to represent my Lord well.