1 Peter 5:5-7 "But all of you, leaders and followers alike, are to be down to earth with each other, for God has had it with the proud, but takes delight in just plain people. So be content with who you are, and don't put on airs. God's strong hand is on you; he'll promote you at the right time." MSG
I love reading the message version from time to time to get a different perspective on scripture, and this particular instance is a great example! I've often read versions where it says, "at the proper time, He may exalt you," but "promote you" brings a whole new meaning to this passage. Do you ever feel like it's your responsibility to promote yourself?
Being an independent Christian artist is hard in so many ways. It's wonderful in just as many, but there is always a temptation to pursue more and more "promotion" so that more and more opportunities have the potential to arise. And it's often very tempting to take matters in my own hands to push things through for the sake of promotion that may or may not be in the perfect will of God.
I think we all do this, to varying degrees. In our work places, we work hard and chase promotion. In our homes, we may seek promotion and exaltation as our roles as wives and mothers. We can also easily become proud because of our accomplishments and assume that what we have and what we've become is only the result of our own handiwork. But 1 Peter 5 tells us to cast our cares on Him, stay in humility (recognizing that HE is the reason we are who we are and have what we have), and in HIS time He will do the promoting.
I don't know about you, but this brings me a tremendous sense of freedom! My responsibility is to work as unto the Lord, to continually seek God's will, and to stay humble and "down to earth." God will do the rest, in His perfect time and His perfect way. And the promoting that God will do for me pales in comparison to any promotion I can do for myself. Awesome!
Jesus was radical, God's love and grace is radical, His relentless pursuit of of me is radical, and I've been convincing myself that I can serve Him conventionally and conservatively and still be effective in the Kingdom of God. But God, surely you understand? I live in the world and I have to find a way to fit in, right? That means a little pursuit of wealth for the sake of my pride, a little covetousness that keeps me pressing on in pursuit of more and more, a little fear because everyone's afraid sometimes, a little worry because there's so much to be concerned over, a little lust, a little a little a little...
I don't know about you, but then I end up a professional sin manager and a little bit in the world and a little bit in the kingdom and tossed around like a reed in the wind. I am fully convinced that if my faith is worth something, it has to cost me something. Everything. God doesn't want 10% of my money, he wants all of my money. He doesn't want 10% of my heart, he wants all of my heart. And I will NOT let the enemy steal what is rightfully mine in Christ because I'm fooled into believing I can live on the fence.
Jesus didn't make it easy to follow him. Seriously-- he gave everyone a chance to back out at least a dozen times, and most of them did. When Christianity is cultural it makes it really easy to follow the status quo, but when it costs you everything, the choice is harder to make.
But the greatest irony of it all is that life without Him is miserable. Without Him I'm a slave to my flesh and everything it desires, which ultimately and always leads to death. Romans 8 tells me that the mind of a man controlled by the Spirit is filled with life and peace, it's pleasing to God and ultimately you will live. Eternally, yes, but abundantly here on the earth.
We're all sold out to something. Radically devoted even. The most important question and one that could ask something that could potentially alter the direction of your life forever and beyond is "to whom?"
I think it was Joyce Meyer who said “Choose your friends more carefully than you choose a spouse.” Wow. I don’t think she meant to downplay the importance of choosing a spouse… but we are so consumed with choosing the right mate as a rule, that we haphazardly choose our friends!
When I was a teenager, I had a list of all the things I desired in my future mate. I got as specific as height, eye color, temperament… But with my friends – not so much! If we had mutual interests, went to school or worked together, showed some similarities, I would generally go out of my way to befriend her. Not that being a friend to many is bad in any way, but letting people into your life, people who will inevitably influence your decisions and even shape your own opinions about yourself and the world around you, is serious business.
So – I’ve started making a list for the attributes in ideal friends, and I am trusting that God will bring those people in my life. I can be easily discouraged, so I need to surround myself with people of great faith. Laughter is extremely important to me, so I need friends who understand my quirky sense of humor. Above all, I want friends who hold me accountable to a higher standard, and encourage me to reach outside of myself to achieve all of my greatest dreams and beyond.
Okay – so you’re wondering, “I already have a great group of friends, and they may not satisify every requirement in my “list,”.. so now what?” My advice to you, and to myself, is to pursue God first and foremost. Pursue His will, and let Him pour into you so you can pour into others. Everything else, especially your group of peers, will fall into place. Love and encourage your friends unconditionally, and always be the friend that you would have them be to you.
I can only address this issue from a female point of view — but to us girls, having friends is extremely important. We need the community. We need the camaraderie. We need each other. And it kills me to see friends who secretly wish the worst for their ‘friends,” in a twisted attempt to elevate themselves! Or friends that are only friends when it is convenient! No more. Let’s be women of faith who build lasting and impenetrable relationships with others that reflect the goodness of God, not call it into question.
So – be picky with who you choose as friends, but love and demonstrate grace with everyone. You WILL become the company you keep… so why wouldn’t you want to surround yourself with friends you want to emulate?
I sure do.
10 “Give me wisdom and knowledge, that I may lead this people, for who is able to govern this great people of yours?” 11 God said to Solomon, “Since this is your heart’s desire and you have not asked for wealth, riches or honor, nor for the death of your enemies, and since you have not asked for a long life but for wisdom and knowledge to govern my people over whom I have made you king, 12 therefore wisdom and knowledge will be given you. And I will also give you wealth, riches and honor, such as no king who was before you ever had and none after you will have.” – 2 Chronicles 1:10-12
Seek the Lord, not His benefits. The beginning of wisdom is the fear of the Lord – and understanding Him is knowing Him, loving Him, serving Him. Solomon asked for wisdom and knowledge, because He knew that was what He needed to govern the children of Israel… knowledge of justice, truth, equity, and most importantly, knowledge of God Himself. How often we seek first the benefits of knowing Lord, and disregard the act of knowing Him! Seek first the Lord and ask diligently for wisdom and understanding.
It makes sense in practical terms. If you had access to all the wealth of all the nations, if there was nothing out of your reach to give… would you seek out someone who pursued wisdom, cherished knowledge, understood the scope of his or her responsibility, exercised intelligence and discernment in every decision… or… not? I think the answer is clear.
God has promised to supply all your needs, and I also know that the beginning to any sense of peace and contentment in your life is to pursue God only, to know Him, and to make him known. It’s mind bending how circular the Word of God is. It takes you on a wild journey of discovery and then bends back on itself, until you begin to see that the depths of God have no beginning or end, and that no one or no thing could every fully know or understand everything contained within His Word.