Contribute to the needs of the saints

“Let love be genuine. Abhor what is evil; hold fast to what is good. Love one another with brotherly affection. Outdo one another in showing honor. Do not be slothful in zeal, be fervent in spirit, serve the Lord. Rejoice in hope, be patient in tribulation, be constant in prayer. Contribute to the needs of the saints and seek to show hospitality.”
Romans 12:9-13

It was an interesting weekend. My wife and I took Ezra to my parents for the weekend where we all stayed. Sunday we went to the church I grew up in. Some already new about our latest adventure. Others were hearing about it for the first time. Most of you readers are aware of our current path. A few weeks ago I resigned from my position in Kansas to go back to Virginia to attend seminary. I was leaving a paying job for the unknown with a new family as I look for new work to support them while preparing for school in the fall.

Many who hear about this are very encouraging over this news. “How exciting!” “Good for you!” “What an adventure!” Others find it a little odd wondering why I feel the need to go back to school. Some find it irresponsible. To some it just doesn’t make much sense. The truth is that these actions can look rather irresponsible form the outside. It is something I genuinely wrestle with. I didn’t want to leave my past situation, because in truth was too scared to do so. Much of that fear was fought through writing posts on this blog.

Out of all the responses I have received over our decision, there was one on Sunday that filled me with such a huge amount of encouragement. It was a man from my dad’s church. We talked for a little while over my plans. He ended the conversation with some incredibly encouraging words. “I realize it was pretty brave for you to move out to Kansas two years ago, but I get it was even braver for you to come back.”

That was a guy that just got it. He grasped the boldness in the details that can be lost in the appearance of foolishness. This was a guy that understood the emotions that go into a decision like this. This was a guy that grasped that what a young man like me needed was a little bit of encouragement rather than a subtle “Really?” response.

Sometimes following God’s lead means you look a little foolish. I’m not saying you should be stupid for God, but sometimes following Him will give the appearance of foolishness. The very act of surrendering everything to God looks foolish to the man who is blind to God’s presence. It is in these moments of “foolish” action that we need fellow believers to come beside us and build us up. What has been so rewarding in this experience for Emily and me is that we have seen God provide. He has provided through generosity of fellow believers. He has provided through encouraging words. He has provided through His word.

I began this post with a passage from Romans. It is a bit of an odd chapter in a way. We think of Romans as a letter that is simply full of rich doctrinal value. Why would Paul spend a chapter discussing how we are to behave with one another? Why go off on a tangent about love? Why write on something seemingly random from the rest of the content.

Doctrine without proper application does you diddly squat. Doctrine without love is useless. Doctrine without a little illogical action will only get you so far. Paul understood that natural love and care for other should be a natural product as a result of proper doctrine. To understand the doctrines of salvation you must grasp the fervency of God’s love for His creation. Grasping that love should kindle a fire in us to also love His creation.

A natural way of doing this is to contribute to the needs of the saints. Christians had to rely on each other back then. They had nowhere else to turn. A man who is truly following God will often feel like the loneliest man on the road. Fools will call him a chief fool. The world will tell him he has failed. His heart will grow heavy with burdens. Shouldn’t we tend to others on the same road? Shouldn’t we build one another up?

I’m thankful for those random saints who have contributed to my needs. I am thankful for that man who so profoundly grasped my struggles by giving me such an encouraging word. It leaves me wondering something though. Why do we as believers so often fail to contribute to the needs of the saints? Why do we go beyond that failure, and actually speak words that put doubt and fear into our brothers and sisters?

We don’t realize the amount we need to rely on fellow saints. We don’t realize the urgency in that necessity. I think it’s time for change. It’s time for some of us to swallow our pride. It is time for others of us to realize that what may seem foolish for someone to do is really someone who is following a plan told to him that even seems foolish to him. It is time for some of us to be thankful for God’s provision. It is time for all of us to contribute to the needs of the saints.

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