Thursday, 5 April 2012

Nearing the end of Lent...some reflections

During Lent, I've subscribed to a couple of messaging services which have offered daily encouragement. One has been 40Acts - absolutely brilliant and inspiring. The other has been The Carbon Fast, a Tearfund initiative which encourages us to think about ways of saving energy and protecting the planet. Much of what has been suggested I do anyway: cycling or walking instead of using the car, turning off lights, turning the heat down or off, when today's email arrived, encouraging me to avoid using the tumble dryer, I nearly didn't bother to read on. I am passionately against tumble dryers and am fortunate to be able to hang washing out to dry, or inside in a utility room. Not relevant, I thought - slightly smugly, I have to admit.
Then I read the post:
But godliness with contentment is great gain. For we brought nothing into the world, and we can take nothing out of it. But if we have food and clothing, we will be content with that. Those who want to get rich fall into temptation and a trap and into many foolish and harmful desires that plunge people into ruin and destruction. For the love of money is a root of all kinds of evil. Some people, eager for money, have wandered from the faith and pierced themselves with many griefs. But you, (wo)man of God, flee from all this, and pursue righteousness, godliness, faith, love, endurance and gentleness. Fight the good fight of the faith. (1 Timothy 6:6-12)
No matter how long we live, when we die we will leave all our possessions behind. So travel light! Jesus commanded us not to accumulate treasures on earth. We are warned that seeking to get rich leads to ‘all kinds of evil’. When profits take priority over people and planet, the result is ‘ruin and destruction’, as we can see in increasing environmental destruction. In what ways is it ‘great gain’ for us to live simply? How does your life fit with this verse?
So yes, great encouragement to live simply. Lent has been a time of lifestyle evaluation and reflection, of heightened sensitivity - not that I've always been able to do anything about it - to the needs of the world. But the verse caught my eye for other reasons.
A Bible study group I attend has been looking at the theme of A Generous God. We've thought about these verses from Timothy frequently over the last six weeks. I've always focused on the beginning of the passage but today, as I come to the end of studying Ephesians with Good Morning Girls, the 'fight' caught my eye.
Ephesians 6:13-18 says, in the Message: Be prepared. You're up against far more than you can handle on your own. Take all the help you can get, every weapon God has issued, so that when it's all over but the shouting you'll still be on your feet. Truth, righteousness, peace, faith, and salvation are more than words. Learn how to apply them. You'll need them throughout your life. God's Word is an indispensable weapon. In the same way, prayer is essential in this ongoing warfare. Pray hard and long. Pray for your brothers and sisters. Keep your eyes open. Keep each other's spirits up so that no one falls behind or drops out.
It's been so encouraging and helpful doing this study with a group of others. Just the other day, as we struggled to REALLY understand what 'rightrousness' was all about, Rose posted this definition: virtue, honour, justice, integrity, honesty, purity, faithfulness, uprightness, blamelessness..
Wow. I'd love it if my life looked like that!

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