Pointless, Mundane, and Redeemed

Practical. Transitory. Ordinary.

Mundane life. It is most likely resented because it is not spectacular.

While we encourage each other to stop and appreciate the small things in life, we don’t always mean it. Not really.

We want to be known for doing impressive things — or at least things that are worthy of noticing.  We dread being unseen and ordinary. We dread living a mundane existence.

At the root of our ill-will toward mundane activities and mundane living, however, I believe is the annoyance that it is pointless. We begrudge the repetitive nature of the mundane. At least I tend to.

Washed dishes will become dirty again.  Gas tanks need to be refilled. Lawns are cut, only to regrow. Weeds in flowerbeds are maddening in their reappearance. Endless stacks of documents need stapling, sorting, or filing. Thousands of phone calls need answering. Years come and go, marked by the same paperwork, the same taxes, the same repairs, the same cleaning and re-cleaning, the same organizing and reorganizing, the same frustrations. Even successes in everyday life can turn mundane.

What has been will be again. There is nothing new under the sun. (See Ecclesiastes 2)

Hopeless, right? The mundane nature of life has created a rut that we cannot escape.

So we look for a plot twist. We find out we’re really royalty (it makes a good movie)… or we come into money… or we finally receive that accolade… or we get our breakthrough to fame. With a plot twist like that we could escape the rut created by a mundane life.

But what if the office worker, the teacher, the mother, the father, and the hundreds of other professions were not necessarily meant to escape mundane life? What if the mundane could be redeemed from pointlessness?

Plot twist.

It has.

The sovereign purpose of God has given purpose to the most mundane of lives.

For we are God’s handiwork, created in Christ Jesus to do good works, which God prepared in advance for us to do.

Ephesians 2:10

Christ has redeemed the mundane for his followers because all our works are for him.  The fulfillment for our work is in him. The honor, gratitude, and advancement we hope to attain in our earthly work pale in comparison to our inheritance in the Lord.

Whatever you do, work at it with all your heart, as working for the Lord, not for human masters, since you know that you will receive an inheritance from the Lord as a reward. It is the Lord Christ you are serving.

Colossians 3:23-24

God has planned all our works — the mundane, the noteworthy, and the spectacular. All are unto him.  He accepts our work because of Christ. The presence of his Holy Spirit in us reminds us that we do not work for the futility of a passing world, but in his strength and with the hope that our work is not in vain. Therefore…

Let us not become weary in doing good, for at the proper time we will reap a harvest if we do not give up.

Galatians 6:9

We work, even in the mundane, with the hope of the only accolade that matters: God’s.

“His master replied, ‘Well done, good and faithful servant! You have been faithful with a few things; I will put you in charge of many things. Come and share your master’s happiness!'”

Matthew 25:21

We work with hope and courage to do the ordinary because we know that God is at work — even in the mundane.

And we know that in all things God works for the good of those who love him, who have been called according to his purpose.

Romans 8:28

What I Need to Know

This month, I’ve been participating in July’s Scripture writing plan from Sweet Blessings: God is Our Refuge. Focusing for over a week now on the promise of refuge and salvation has led to many thoughts and prayers, and I’m looking forward to the remaining 23 days.

The LORD is good, a stronghold in the day of trouble, he know those who take refuge in him.

Nahum 1:7 (part of day 7)

When do I need refuge? When I am afraid. When someone, or some situation, or some sin, or some other worry is pressing on me. In that moment, what I want most to know how everything will be resolved. I want to know, “what will happen?”

As with many others, however, what I want most to know is not what I need most to know. The way of quieting my heart and mind is not in knowing the end from the beginning. No, Nahum says in 4 words (in English, two in Hebrew) what I most need to know: The LORD is good.

The LORD — יְהֹוָה Yĕhovah

Not “one”, not “a”. There are no others in His rank. No other lesser gods to somehow grab power. No equal forces of good and evil to balance out, no equal dichotomy of right and wrong. He alone is unrivaled in the universe.

The eternal, self-existing One. He does not need our help.  All things happen according to His will — even the things that most trouble us. He is the authority, because He existed before all things and He is the Creator and Master of all creation.

is good — טוֹבtowb

He is right. Excellent. Rich and Valuable in estimation. Because He is good, He does what is good. Since He is good in His very being, He is trustworthy.

That’s what a child knows when they run to a parent for help when they are afraid: My parents are bigger, and they are good to me.

Because the LORD is unrivaled in His power and good in His very nature, He is “a stronghold in the day of trouble.”

And as an added balm to a worried heart, “he knows those who take refuge in him.” He knows every hair on their head. He hems them in behind and before. He sees their goings out and staying in. He has written down everyday of their lives. He calls them by name.

So take courage.

He is God.

He is good.

He knows you.

 

The LORD is good,

a stronghold in the day of trouble,

he know those who take refuge in him.

Nahum 1:7

 

 

Meekness Misunderstood: the strength of πραΰς

…Which in God’s Sight is Very Precious…

Let your adorning be the hidden person of the heart with the imperishable beauty of a gentle and quiet spirit, which in God’s sight is very precious. 1 Peter 3:4 ESV

It was early Tuesday morning and the Almighty Maker of the universe —  nebulae, planets, gravity, magnetism, ocean creatures, majestic mountains, beauty and grandeur that leave me breathless in awe– had just revealed that there is something in the heart of a woman that He finds very precious. Something that radiates with a beauty that never fades. He says that it is a gentle, quiet, meek spirit.

In the ESV translation above, the word “gentle” is the Greek word πραΰς, meaning “gentle, mild, meek”, which also appears in Matthew 5:5 and 21:5. Other translations (KJV, for example) render this word as “meek” in English.

So, what is meekness and how do I get it?

Called to what?

According to the Merriam-Webster dictionary, there doesn’t appear to be much hope for the word:

1.) enduring injury with patience and without resentment: MILD

2.) deficient in spirit and courage: SUBMISSIVE

3.) not violent or strong: MODERATE

Here comes the pause in my reading, the calm before the storm of questions and protests. The something that is worth a great price in God’s sight… that something is meekness? Deficient. Lacking in spirit. Cowardly. Weak.

Here comes the storm.

Surly God isn’t calling me to that! Doesn’t Proverbs 31 say an excellent wife is clothed with strength and dignity? Do Peter and King Lemuel need to go argue it out somewhere? Worse yet, is the Bible contradicting itself? How is meekness strength and not weakness?

Interpreted through a dictionary or, worse yet, a mere cultural understanding (i.e. out of context), even Christian men and women can assume that a meek, gentle, and quiet wife (or woman) is demure, placid, complying, mousy, non-opinionated, non-problematic, and sweet.

You-keep-using-that-word

 

Your King 

πραΰς (prä-ü’s) is the same word the references Jesus Christ in Matthew 21:5 (in fulfillment of Zechariah 9:9).

“Say to Daughter Zion, ‘See, your King comes to you, πραΰς and riding on a donkey, and on a foal, the colt of a donkey.”

The first part of Zechariah 9 reveals God’s vengeance on the nations who defy him and trample his people. To them, he is not meek. However, when he comes to his people — who have also disobeyed him — he does so in a spirit of meekness, forgiveness, restoration, and peace.

In Matthew 21, Jesus is entering Jerusalem, surrounded by shouts of praise, knowing this visit ends in rejection and the weight of the Father’s wrath against our sin. He comes meekly — in obedience to the Father’s will — ready to bear injury from his creation with forgiveness.

As recounted in Matthew 21, after arriving in Jerusalem, in obedience to the Father, Jesus also drove out the money changers in the temple, overturning their tables. Yet, a few days later, he was the lamb silent before his shearers. In all this, he was meek before God the Father, obedient even unto death.

Meekness responds to others out of obedience to the Father, not out of lack of courage.

When Christ calls us to meekness and gentleness, he is not only calling us to exhibit a quality his Holy Spirit has put in our hearts. He is calling us to reflect his own nature.  The indwelling power of the Holy Spirit bears the fruit of meekness. This is strength of Spirit, not deficiency.

The strength of meekness, however, is not the strength of spirit the world immediately values. Meekness is not grasping, nor is it concerned with self. It is completely reliant on God, not fearful. Meekness walks in obedience, as Christ did, completely trusting in the Father. Meekness submits a fallen self-will to the Father’s perfect one.

“Meekness toward God is that disposition of spirit in which we accept His dealings with us as good, and therefore without disputing or resisting… Gentleness or meekness is the opposite to self-assertiveness and self-interest. It stems from trust in God’s goodness and control over the situation. The gentle person is not occupied with self at all. This is a work of the Holy Spirit, not of the human will (Gal 5:23).” blueletterbible.org

Blessed are the Meek…

Blessed are the πραΰς, for they shall inherit the earth. Matthew 5:5

Meekness, then, is a quality for all believers that brings blessing through an eternal inheritance.  A meek believer does not obey Scripture with a bleak outlook, but with hope. The earth belongs to God and it is in his power and pleasure to gift it as an inheritance to those who walk in meekness.

Meekness endures persecution without exacting vengeance, walks in obedience to God without resentment, acts with patience, speaks without harshness of spirit, and is open to wisdom. (For a more in-depth look at Matthew 5:5, see John Piper’s valuable article here.)

πραΰς

One of wonderful things about Scripture is that the more I learn, the more I realize there is to know.  πραΰς is only one word, one fruit of the Spirit, and I feel I could keep learning for the rest of my life.

But back to Tuesday and 1 Peter 3.

πραΰς does not signify a certain personality of a compliant wife, but a certain disposition toward her Heavenly Father. As with all believers, women who adorn themselves with πραΰς are focused first and foremost on their God, who has promised them their inheritance. The Spirit himself strengthens wives for many acts of obedience to God, including submission to their husbands without resentment. They hope in God, and do not fear anything that is frightening (1 Peter 3:5).

I am not a wife, but I am still called to πραΰς. I have not been called (as of yet) to submit to a husband, but there are limitless ways I can show the unfading beauty of a gentle, quiet, meek spirit through the power of the Holy Spirit in me.

Hope in God, not marital status.

Forgive when I’d rather hold a grudge.

Rejoice with others’ gifts when I’d rather be envious.

Respond with a kind word when I’d rather retaliate.

Be patient and thankful when I’d rather complain.

Trust in the Lord and lean not on my own understanding.

Seek first His kingdom, and not my own (on social media, at work, or anywhere else).

Value and obey Scripture, not the demands of culture.

Have we learned the meekness which understands the power of patience, of quiet waiting on God, and the futility of employing massive methods to get our own way? What about the reverence that trusts God’s hidden, seemingly slow, working out of his own mysterious purposes? Impatience hardens. -Elizabeth Elliot “Keep A Quiet Heart”