As the month of July began, I alluded to the Second Continental Congress of these United States, writing “Noble aspirations were theirs. We believe in them and we, too, work for them even though many are yet to be realized. Yet it’s not independence for independence’s sake. Instead, it’s independence from poor treatment, from lack of respect, and demeaning circumstances. Why do I make that distinction? Because we are, every one of us, very dependent creatures: dependent upon each other and most definitely dependent on God.
Scripture tells us…
…in Him we live and move and have our being. ~ Acts 17:28, New King James
It also tells us we are linked to one another and when one is harmed or injured it affects us all (we’ll be exploring this in future Monday Morning Memos). This is that Memo.
A week before that post, I began a study of three chapters in the New Testament, each building on the other. Two, Romans 12 and 1 Corinthians 12, were written the same year; the third, Ephesians 4, six years later. Though seemingly written to three different groups of people, the message in each was inherently the same: what happens to one of us affects the lives of us all. Also, while we all share the same foundation and are headed the same place, how we are most effective is realized by accepting we have different strengths, insights, gifts, and talents.
I read those same three chapters every day for a month, sometimes in one version, sometimes in another. I explored the Amplified Bible, The Books of the Bible New Testament, Common English Bible, Contemporary English Bible, Catholic Public Domain Bible, English Good News Translation, English Standard Version, GOD’S WORD Translation, J.B. Phillips New Testament, The Message, New Century Version, New International Version 1984, New Living Translation, Orthodox Jewish Bible, and Today’s New International Version.
It was a treat, an absolute delight. Why? Because I’m a lover of words and completely entranced by communication and the way different people are able to say exactly the same thing though they use different words. Listen:
And do not choose to be conformed to this age, but instead choose to be reformed in the newness of your mind, so that you may demonstrate what is the will of God: what is good, and what is well-pleasing, and what is perfect. For I say, through the grace that has been given to me, to all who are among you: Taste no more than it is necessary to taste, but taste unto sobriety and just as God has distributed a share of the faith to each one. For just as, within one body, we have many parts, though all the parts do not have the same role, so also we, being many, are one body in Christ, and each one is a part, the one of the other.”
And we each have different gifts, according to the grace that has been given to us: whether prophecy, in agreement with the reasonableness of faith; or ministry, in ministering; or he who teaches, in doctrine; he who exhorts, in exhortation; he who gives, in simplicity; he who governs, in solicitude; he who shows mercy, in cheerfulness. Let love be without falseness: hating evil, clinging to what is good, loving one another with fraternal charity, surpassing one another in honor: in solicitude, not lazy; in spirit, fervent; serving the Lord; in hope, rejoicing; in tribulation, enduring; in prayer, ever-willing; in the difficulties of the saints, sharing; in hospitality, attentive. Bless those who are persecuting you: bless, and do not curse. Rejoice with those who are rejoicing. Weep with those who are weeping. Be of the same mind toward one another: not savoring what is exalted, but consenting in humility. Do not choose to seem wise to yourself. ~ Romans 12:2-5, Catholic Public Domain Bible
There are different kinds of gifts, but the same Spirit distributes them. There are different kinds of service, but the same Lord. There are different kinds of working, but in all of them and in everyone it is the same God at work. Now to each one the manifestation of the Spirit is given for the common good. All these are the work of one and the same Spirit, and he distributes them to each one, just as he determines. ~ 1 Corinthians 12:4-7, The Books of the Bible New Testament
Be always humble, gentle, and patient. Show your love by being tolerant with one another. Do your best to preserve the unity which the Spirit gives by means of the peace that binds you together.
Under his control all the different parts of the body fit together, and the whole body is held together by every joint with which it is provided. So when each separate part works as it should, the whole body grows and builds itself up through love.
Do not use harmful words, but only helpful words, the kind that build up and provide what is needed, so that what you say will do good to those who hear you. And do not make God’s Holy Spirit sad; for the Spirit is God’s mark of ownership on you, a guarantee that the Day will come when God will set you free. Get rid of all bitterness, passion, and anger. No more shouting or insults, no more hateful feelings of any sort. Instead, be kind and tender-hearted to one another, and forgive one another, as God has forgiven you through Christ. ~ Ephesians 4:2-3, 16, 29-32, English Good News Translation
Do you see it? No matter the vessel, no matter that the intended audience may be in a different area of the world or a different culture, the message of God is clear and distinct to every one who listens. We are His children. We are all part of the same family. We have been called to love one another and to treat each other with respect, and given very specific instructions for how to accomplish this. Please, people, let’s continue to do as we’ve been asked, bringing joy not sadness to the One who loves us most, and encouraging those around us to the very best of our abilities.
All of Heaven’s best to each of us: to you and you and you and you….