On the plate this morning:
And this I pray, that your love may abound yet more and more
in knowledge and in all judgment;
That ye may approve things that are excellent;
that ye may be sincere and without offense till the day of Christ;
Being filled with the fruits of righteousness,
which are by Jesus Christ, to the glory and praise of God.
I read through it multiple times this morning.
Looked up words to get a better sense
of what exactly Paul was praying for these people he held in such affection.
That phrase 'approve things that are excellent' gave me pause.
The word 'excellent' seemed like a strange choice.
It has to do with carrying something separately.
The difference it references nearly always indicates something superior.
This I pray: that your love would be more than enough, abundant;
recognizing and grasping the value of the important things;
that you would be sincere and without offense till the day of Christ,
being filled with the fruits of righteousness which are by Jesus Christ,
to the glory and praise of God.
It began to clear.
We do need Him to work in us that we might recognize the valuable.
We don't measure importance like He does.
I think of Him sitting and watching the givers at the temple,
and calling attention to the widow with her mite.
How He stores up tears in a bottle like they are some treasure.
and our prayers there in heaven -- wafting up as incense to Him.
How He keeps a book of remembrance with words of faith recorded in it.
That He notes what we lose for His sake --
the presence of siblings so sorely missed;
and the safety of long-tested friendships;
and the joy of being part of the group
and not measured by someone else's yardstick;
and the freedom to pray what's really weighing you down
with others who will carry it too.
Some things have to be carried differently.
I bought a specialized shirt for my train trip down the east coast last year.
It has a pocket designed to keep the most important things
out of the reach of pickpockets.
I was determined not to get stuck without cash,
the ability to get more cash,
a credit card, identification, and phone numbers.
Everything else could be replaced if it was lost or stolen,
but those were the things worth carrying differently,
because they would see me home.
I didn't just throw them loosely into a backpack
and shove them under the train seat.
They sat there zipped into safety close to my skin.
Lord, please give us overflowing love
that recognizes and grasps the important things,
that when everything else is lost,
we'll have our identity and our fellowship unbroken,
and our heavenly currency right there in a safe place,
with access to more when we need it.