A gentle reminder

Keep Calm

Reminders. We all need them from time to time.

It can be pretty annoying when someone states the obvious.

We have all experienced it at one juncture or another, having had someone trying to tell us something that we already know. Much like those instances, when the bible says things that seem obvious to us, it is for the purpose of reminding us.

Peter says in his second epistle, “Therefore, I will always remind you about these things—even though you already know them and are standing firm in the truth you have been taught. And it is only right that I should keep on reminding you as long as I live” (2 Peter 1:12-13 NLT).

Upon reading Psalm 100, I received one such reminder. It states, “Know that the Lord Himself is God; It is He who has made us, and not we ourselves; We are His people and the sheep of His pasture” (Psalm 100:3 NASB).

It is quite interesting how the most pointed truth is not necessarily that which is new, but that which is known but reiterated. I have read this particular passage of scripture many times, but have never come away with such urgency regarding what is being communicated.

As a result, we receive three reminders from Psalm 100:3:

1) THE LORD IS GOD, NOT US

“Know that the Lord Himself is God . . .”

Could the bible make a more obvious statement? Isn’t it pretty clear that the Lord is God and that we are not?

While this may be the most elementary truth of our faith, it is probably the thing we need to be reminded of the most! In receiving this reminder, we receive a call to humility.

The Gospel of Mark gives us additional perspective with the account of the rich young ruler. It reads, “And as [Jesus] was setting out on his journey, a man ran up and knelt before him and asked him, ‘Good Teacher, what must I do to inherit eternal life?’ And Jesus said to him, ‘Why do you call me good? No one is good except God alone'” (Mark 10:17-18 ESV).

Jesus teaches us in this passage to not take accolades upon ourselves that rightfully belong to God. While he is God (John 1:1, 14; Romans 9:5), Jesus was unwilling to allow the young man to call him “good” unless he acknowledged him as God. There are many who can be called “teacher,” but only one “LORD,” and he alone is good.

As apart of this reminder, we are admonished to accept our limitations. There are three attributes in particular that belong to God alone: omniscience (all-knowing), omnipresence (everywhere present) and omnipotence (all-powerful).

Only God knows everything, which means that we should never be reluctant to say, “I don’t know,” and always willing to learn. While God can be everywhere, we do not have that same luxury–we should orient our lives in such a way that we are placing our limited energy in the most important places. Additionally, God alone is able to do everything without assistance, which makes asking for help simply part of being human.

Interestingly enough, even the God who knows everything, is everywhere and can do anything humbled himself. Paul writes:

Have this mind among yourselves, which is yours in Christ Jesus, who, though he was in the form of God, did not count equality with God a thing to be grasped, but emptied himself, by taking the form of a servant, being born in the likeness of men. And being found in human form, he humbled himself by becoming obedient to the point of death, even death on a cross. (Philippians 2:5-8 ESV).

2) WE CANNOT LAY CLAIM TO OURSELVES

“It is He who has made us, and not we ourselves . . . “

God reminds us of his ownership of our very lives. This ownership is based on his identity as:

Creator: “Behold, all souls are Mine” (Ezekiel 18:4a NASB)

&

Redeemer: “Or do you not know that your body is a temple of the Holy Spirit who is in you, whom you have from God, and that you are not your own? For you have been bought with a pricetherefore glorify God in your body” (1 Corinthians 6:19-20 NASB).

Believer and unbeliever alike belong to God, because he is Lord of all the earth. Those who acknowledge his lordship, however, live according to the truth that God is the sole owner and that all others are merely stewards. As such, we receive from God a call to generosity.

While we do not want to take upon ourselves the accolades that rightfully belong to God, our desire should be to reflect his character and thus “glorify God in [our bodies].” In this way, Paul offers this admonishment, “Therefore be imitators of God, as beloved children. And walk in love, as Christ loved us and gave himself up for us, a fragrant offering and sacrifice to God” (Ephesians 5:1-2 ESV).

Christ lived a life of generosity. Even though he is an owner in every sense of the word (Colossians 1:16), he “came not to be served but to serve, and to give his life as a ransom for many” (Matthew 20:28 ESV). If Jesus exemplified generosity as an owner, how much more are we to do so as stewards?

Moreover, “For who makes you different from anyone else? What do you have that you did not receive? And if you did receive it, why do you boast as though you did not?” (1 Corinthians 4:7 NIV). Whatever we have, we were given by the generous hand of God. As Jesus tells to his disciples, “Freely you have received; freely give” (Matthew 10:8 NIV).

3) WE CANNOT LAY CLAIM TO ANYONE ELSE

“We are His people and the sheep of His pasture.”

In line with not owning ourselves, God also lets us know that we do not own anyone else. Regardless of whether a person is our subordinate, they belong to God and not to us.

Peter’s address to pastors in his first epistle gives us the heart behind this reminder. Whenever the Lord addresses pastors, he is addressing the people that he holds the most accountable of anyone on the planet (James 3:1, Hebrews 13:17). We can, then, glean from Peter’s words a principle he underscores at the highest level. He writes:

And now, a word to you who are elders in the churches. I, too, am an elder and a witness to the sufferings of Christ. And I, too, will share in his glory when he is revealed to the whole world. As a fellow elder, I appeal to you: Care for the flock that God has entrusted to you. Watch over it willingly, not grudgingly—not for what you will get out of it, but because you are eager to serve God. Don’t lord it over the people assigned to your care, but lead them by your own good example. And when the Great Shepherd appears, you will receive a crown of never-ending glory and honor. (1 Peter 5:1-4 NLT)

What we receive by way of reminder is a call to honor. While pastors are instructed to “care for the flock,” this is to be done with the “Great Shepherd” in view. The realization that God is shepherd should foster a perspective that holds the flock as a trust and not a possession. When we view people as belonging to God, it allows us to fulfill our biblical mandate to “outdo one another in showing honor” (Romans 12:10 ESV).

Peter Scazzero, in his book entitled, “Emotionally Healthy Spirituality,” discusses two relational dynamics that originated with the writings of Jewish theologian Martin Buber: I-It and I-Thou. In the former, we simply treat people as a means to and end, or a possession if you will. They are viewed as no different than a toothbrush, a pair of socks or a car.

I-Thou relationships embrace every other person as made in the image of God. This makes them worthy of being treated with dignity and not as objects. Their existence may be separate from one’s own, but they have equal value as God’s people and the sheep of his pasture.

Reminders are never a bad thing. I set tons of reminders for myself on a monthly basis. What we have been reminded of today, we should recall everyday of our lives.  In so doing, our meditation will truly be pleasing to God (Psalm 104:34).

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~ by christianballenger on March 30, 2015.

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