God’s Tumbler

Written by: George J. Elling

Did you ever wonder why the various people in your life are there? First there is family. They are there because of biological relationships and marriages. Then there are friends which we “pick” to be there. As the old saying goes, “You can pick your friends but you can’t pick your family.”

Next are people with whom we choose to have a professional relationship with, like doctors, dentists, auto mechanics, lawyers, etc. Then there are co-workers, bosses, employees, managers, business associates, etc. Some of us have teammates from a sports league or fellow volunteers from a charity we engage with. We may have fellow worshipers from a church or synagogue we go to. And, of course, there are those who are our neighbors and other people that don’t fit into one of the above categories.

We all interact with quite a few people in the course of a week. But, why are these particular people in our lives? Is there something deeper about why certain people are the people we interact with in a given week? Does it go beyond happenstance or “our choices?”

A tumbler is a barrel or a drum in which you place stones, or parts, along with some grit in order to polish them. Round and round the drum turns. The items inside are forced into each other, interacting with some friction, enhanced by the grit, to wear down the rough edges of the objects in order to achieve a smooth and polished result.

We, and the people in our lives, can be like the items in a tumbler. We are all going round and round, being forced to interact with each other, sometimes easily, and sometimes with a great deal of friction.

It is easy to simply view people in your life in terms of what they can do for you; a utilitarian view. You can also view people in terms of mission or ministry. These are people whom we are to “love on” and help. But, what if God has this particular set of people in your life to help shape and polish you as well as for you to help shape and polish them? What if you are in God’s tumbler?

This, of course, is not the only reason God allows, or places, people into your life. There are the practical and missional purposes as well. But, I think it is valid to consider how God is “polishing” your life when bumping up against others, especially when there is a bit of friction. We grow through struggle. This was true also of Jesus’ life. The Bible says;

“Though He were a Son, yet learned He obedience by the things which He suffered.”
Hebrews 5:8

Jesus came in contact with all sorts of people during his life on earth. While he healed, helped, and discipled many, he also clashed with many. Some helped his mission, some ignored him. Some tried to control him, and some betrayed him. Through it all, the man, Jesus, learned experiential obedience to the Father and was made perfect, or mature. As a result, he became the man God the Father intended him to be.

After describing the work of ministers (apostles, prophets, evangelists, pastors, and teachers), Paul wrote to the church at Ephesus:

15 “…But speaking the truth in love, may grow up into him in all things, which is the head, even Christ: 16 From whom the whole body fitly joined together and compacted by that which every joint supplieth, according to the effectual working in the measure of every part, maketh increase of the body unto the edifying of itself in love.”
Ephesians 4:15-16

Notice in this passage the special work of each of the various parts of the body of Christ (not just the professional ministers) and that they contribute to your becoming the man or woman God intends you to become. Not a generic man or woman, but a particular you, a part of the body of Christ who measures up to the standard and stature exemplified by Christ.

But how does this happen? Well, for example:

From the irritating, we learn patience and to appreciate calmness.

From those who persecute us, we learn endurance and to appreciate peace and security.

From the educated, we learn knowledge and to appreciate how much there is to know.

From the lovely, we learn beauty and to appreciate beauty.

From the helpless, we learn to give and to appreciate how God reaches out to us.

From the lonely, we learn to be a friend and appreciate God’s presence with us.

From the dysfunctional, we learn to bring and appreciate order.

From the poor, we learn to give and appreciate what God has given us.

From the ones who truly love us, we learn what true love is and gain a desire to share it with others.

I could add additional examples of how we are shaped by those in our lives, but I think you get the idea.

So today, why not reflect on how God may be shaping and polishing you by the interactions you experience with the people in your life. Pay special attention to the ones you feel cause discomfort and friction. God may be using that person to polish your own rough edges. And remember, it is Christ in you (Colossians 1:27) who will give you the ability to see and understand what God may be doing. Welcome to God’s tumbler!

7 “But we have this treasure in earthen vessels, that the excellency of the power may be of God, and not of us.” 
2 Corinthians 4:7

17 “For our light affliction, which is but for a moment, worketh for us a far more exceeding and eternal weight of glory; 18 While we look not at the things which are seen, but at the things which are not seen: for the things which are seen are temporal; but the things which are not seen are eternal.”
2 Corinthians 4:17-18

1 “If ye then be risen with Christ, seek those things which are above, where Christ sitteth on the right hand of God. 2 Set your affection on things above, not on things on the earth. For ye are dead, and your life is hid with Christ in God. 4 When Christ, who is our life, shall appear, then shall ye also appear with him in glory.”
Colossians 3:1-4

-GJE

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Time For Some Spring Cleaning

Spring Cleaning

Since it is getting to be Spring right now, I thought that this article would be fitting:

Do you remember that picture that you forwarded (SHARED) in Facebook, you know the one that had that inspirational quote on it that looked very positive that you thought that you could relate with. You felt that you could SHARE it with no worries of it coming back on you – as a Christian, it wouldn’t tarnish your testimony in front of your unsaved friends.

Part of being a Christian is forwarding a good Christian testimony in everything that we do. Some of us have many unsaved friends in our social networks; you know the ones – they are the ones that were your partying buddies from before you were saved and you never “cleaned house” after you were saved, thinking that you might be able to influence them to be able to see Christ in your life and you could be a good witness to them.

Or, they could be family members who are watching you to see if you are for real – to see if Jesus is for real – to see if they might want what you have, now that you are saved.

They could be your co-workers that might be offended if you weren’t their friend any longer…

I think you get the idea about your friends.

I have been noticing, lately, quite a few of my friends on Facebook (and other social media accounts that I hold, but don’t pay much attention to), that post those seemingly harmless pictures that feature a nice quote or picture that, on the surface, looked like it might be a good thing to SHARE with your friend-base.

Did you happen to notice who it was that you are promoting with that “harmless” SHARE? What do I mean?

In Facebook, at the top of the picture, next to your name, we see whose photo it is that you are SHARING. Sometimes you might even see a website mentioned on the photo that “advertises” a site and/or organization that may, or may not, be something good (or harmless) – so you think.

We owe it to ourselves, in fact, moreover, we owe it to God, to check things out a little closer – to dig into it and see what you really are promoting when you SHARE these pictures (or statuses) – or for that matter, even LIKE-ing them will show up on your friend’s walls, now.

Put your mouse over that person’s name (or organization’s name) and it will pop up a mini version of the person’s home photo and you can read just a little bit about who/what they are, if you don’t know them personally. If there is still a question, actually click on that link and see some of the posts that they have on their wall – see what they represent and stand for. If it is God-glorifying, then proceed.

Recently, I looked at a photo that a friend of mine had posted that mentioned praying (seemed like something Christian, right? Proceed…). I looked at whose picture it was (as I showed above) and I didn’t recognize them. I proceeded to their page. I saw some things that I didn’t agree with, and I knew that God could not be glorified with. I saw a picture of a man that was standing there, nude, with his hands covering certain parts of his anatomy – I’m sure that God loved that one!

Another friend, last week, shared a quote that sounded pretty harmless and even seemed to have a God-glorifying theme to it. Again, I followed the links and found that it was promoting a wicken/witchcraft site. I privately messaged the person and they promptly unliked/unshared the photo. Not because I told them that it wasn’t good to have on their wall, but because they hadn’t realized where the picture actually came from. They thanked me for alerting them to the error.

Where am I going with all of this?

What most people don’t realize is, these things are not harmless or irrelevant.  When you post something, you are making that “thing” your own.  You are identifying yourself with anything/everything that is underneath that picture/quote.  It is as if you are the one actually saying what is on that post.

I am not trying to tell you what to do. I’m not saying that you can’t have interests that are not directly related to Christianity – I know I do (as hard as that might be to picture). But what I am saying is that we need to be very attentive to where these pictures are coming from and where they are suggesting to your friends to go – maybe because YOU suggested it by re-SHARING that picture.

Maybe you need to go back through your social accounts and see what I’m talking about. You might have some that are questionable that you really should take down.

Remember, you may be the only Bible that your friends might ever read. Make sure that you are portraying the same thing that the Bible would say, so that you, by your actions, might show them the way to their saving realization of Jesus Christ and His free gift of salvation/eternal life.

In Colossians 3:8, Paul tells us; “But now ye also put off all these; anger, wrath, malice, blasphemy, filthy communication out of your mouth.” You might not be “saying” these things but by having them on your wall, you are “saying” everything that you might have ever posted – and, your friends (and you) can go back in time and see things that you have done, all the way back to when you first started posting things online (on that site). And you may have totally forgotten some of those things that you said… they didn’t!

In Ephesians 4:29, it says, “Let no corrupt communication proceed out of your mouth, but that which is good to the use of edifying, that it may minister grace unto the hearers.” When we hear this it sounds like it is talking about only those things that come out of our mouths, right? Wrong!

The concept behind this verse is, anything that you do and say that others can observe. “Edifying” means, ministering to or educational to the hearer (something that someone can learn something from) or even building up.

“…That it may minister grace unto the hearers”, means literally, “edify profitably”. That means, in the context of this verse, that the contents of your “speech” needs to be promoting (profiting) things that would lead people to God. Whatever you “say” needs to be something that would not only be “harmless”, but actually push people in the direction of God.

1 Corinthians 15:33 “Be not deceived: evil communications corrupt good manners.” 1 Corinthians 15:50 “Now this I say, brethren, that flesh and blood cannot inherit the kingdom of God; neither doth corruption inherit incorruption.”

In verse 33, we are told to NOT be deceived – this is happening, whether we realize it or not; whether we want it to happen or not – evil – whether intended (by you) to be evil or not – CORRUPTS good manners – in other words: Whatever communication (of any sort – written, spoken or any other type) that we “promote” or say that is “evil” WILL corrupt those that are hearing/seeing it.

People! You CAN’T UN-see something! Once it has passed your retina, it is in your brain and once it is there, Satan can/will use it to corrupt you! If you are pushing it out in front of your friends, you are corrupting them!

Look at verse 50: “flesh and blood” doesn’t inherit the kingdom of God – isn’t able to get into heaven; “flesh and blood” means “things of earth” or “worldly things” – things that are worldly or, to break it down even further, un-Godly things – are not going to make it into heaven!

If something is “corrupt”, we think of it as “dirty” or “unclean” – worldly things are unclean! Thus, “incorruption” is referring to “the presence of God” or “heaven”.

Let’s put it all together now, if you haven’t already: Worldly things (un-Godly things) will not make it into heaven! Putting it into our model here: the things that we say/do/promote to others that are un-Godly will not influence others to want to go to the presence of God or heaven.

God cannot bless us for pushing out in front of others, things that are not Godly – not to mention the scars that we are imposing on others by putting these things in front of them to see before they have the ability to accept or reject them for themselves.  They can’t UN-see it!

We, as Christians, are responsible for spreading the Gospel of Jesus Christ in all that we say and do. And, for everything that we say and do, we will be responsible before God – whether it is good or evil! (2 Corinthians 5: 10)

Christians, take my suggestions and take some time to go through your social media pages and delete out those things that are unclean, contain any level of profanity, have questionable pictures or even promote un-Godly websites. Then, as we go forward, before you SHARE or repost those sayings or pictures, take a little time and investigate to see who it is that is promoting such a picture.

Then:

Philippians 4:8 “Finally, brethren, whatsoever things are true, whatsoever things are honest, whatsoever things are just, whatsoever things are pure, whatsoever things are lovely, whatsoever things are of good report; if there be any virtue, and if there be any praise, think on these things.”

Repost, or SHARE, these things…

 ©2014 Mark Davis

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