December 6, 2016

Isaiah 60:1 “Arise, shine, for your light has come,
and the glory of the Lord rises upon you.”

It is not unusual for people to take this passage individually, and it is true that the pronouns are singular, but I think the context leans heavily toward a corporate interpretation of Israel/the Church. (Putting it that way does NOT mean I subscribe to “Replacement Theology!”) When we read the Bible as a textbook for personal aggrandizement we are misreading it badly. God does care about us individually, and we are individually responsible before Him, and He does pour out abundant individual blessings, but when we lose sight of the Bride of Christ we get totally off track. That is particularly true when it comes to such things as spiritual gifts, but actually it applies to everything the Lord gives us; they are not for the individual recipient alone. Even such things as the Fruit of the Spirit (Galatians 5:22-23) make life much more pleasant for those around us. When we “seek first the kingdom of God and His righteousness” (Matthew 6:33) we are focused on Him and not on ourselves, and that brings blessings not only to us but to everyone around us.

I talk so much about self-centeredness not leading to happiness that even I get tired of it! However, the reason I talk about it so much is that there is so much of it around. We all have a very stubborn tendency that way. Recent studies have shown that small children have a distinct tendency toward altruism, wanting to help adults when they perceive the adults have need. A TV program just this past week was demonstrating that children will put their toys away happily if you ask them to show you where the toys go, rather than simply command them to put the toys away. As a pastor I need to do better about asking people to help, rather than berating them (or simply feeling resentful) for their not volunteering. The Lord has blessed me in many ways and it is a joy to use those blessings to bless others, but I must not deprive them of the opportunity to use their own gifts. As adults too often we have been taught to “look out for number one,” so I have to work into it gradually, not overwhelming people with what they might see as demands. Once again I don’t have sufficient wisdom in myself, so I’ve got to depend on the Holy Spirit. However, He is totally dependable!

Father, thank You for this reminder. Various things recently have fit in exactly with this truth. May I flow with Your Spirit to do Your will on Your schedule, for the blessing of many. I know I will be blessed in the process. Thank You. Praise God!


About jgarrott

Born and raised in Japan of missionary parents. Have been here as an adult missionary since 1981.
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