Where Credit Is Due

Least common denomination

"We are fools for Christ's sake, but ye are wise in Christ; we are weak, but ye are strong; ye are honourable, but we are despised." (1 Corinthians 4:10)

Anything worthwhile in the world takes hard work--don't let anyone tell you different. If you haven't already bumped your head on that invisible ceiling of doubt, discouragement and depression while seeking to further your self and your cause in the world at large, take heart. Because that's really what you're going to need when you get to where you want to go. Point is, it takes suffering. Sometimes it takes the sufferings of those who came before, to lay the groundwork for the work we want to do for and before God.

Trust fund

Case in point: Had not my dad taken extra time during my parent's divorce to ensure my brother and I had what we needed spiritually and emotionally (Moreso me. My younger brother is amazing.) I wouldn't be where I am today. But it cost him something. The physical, stress-related issues he incurred through that time were debilitating in the extreme. He even suffered a cardiac arrest (in Sunday school, no less) that left him dead on the floor for two minutes. He, somehow, acted as an umbrella for Ian and I to escape and grow unhindered--as unhindered as possible--while the dust and detritus settled. Point is: my dad suffered so that Ian and I wouldn't have to. Paul speaks along a similar vein (1 Corinthians 4:11-13):

"Even unto this present hour we both hunger, and thirst, and are naked, and are buffeted, and have no certain dwellingplace; And labour working with our own hands: being reviled, we bless; being persecuted, we suffer it: Being defamed, we intreat: we are made as the filth of the world, and are the offscouring of all things unto this day." Paul and his companions are suffering, how else can I say it?

"But I would ye should understand, brethren, that the things which happened unto me have fallen out rather unto the furtherance of the gospel; so that my bonds in Christ are manifest in all the palace, and in all other places; And many of the brethren in the Lord, waxing confident by my bonds, are much more bold to speak the word without fear." (Philippians 1:12-14)

There are times in my life where I pine away for the frivolity and carefreeness of youth. What I didn't know about those times where I had no worries and no responsibilities was that I didn't see God, one. And two, I was blind to the human condition. As I mentioned earlier, life does take hard work. A lot of that hard work though, comes from being misunderstood, underappreciated and even disbelieved for whatever reason. As a child, life seemed to flow with a normal grace. I hope you can say the same. But as I got older, the balance shifted and instead of living in childlikeness for its own sake, it would seem I traded up for the privelege of making my own decisions barring parental supervision. Nothing wrong with this at all, I might add. Just that the inevitable lie, sin, theft, on the smallest of scales causes a sort-of spiritual debt, in our case. Ever the good parent, God looks at our influences and seeks to introduce Himself as early as possible. But as any sin committed is necessarily toward Him first, He is the one we owe. We are in His debt even now. Yes, Jesus paid our bill. But it isn't until we credit it to our account by believing that it's made real in our lives.

And there are those that God uses--in my case, my dad--who suffer for us. Paul spoke to the Corinthians and called them "strong", "honourable", "wise". But in retrospect, wouldn't any Christian with half a brain (or heart) say that out of all the Christians of antiquity, Paul should be labeled as such? Certainly. But Paul paid a very dear price to be seen this way in posterity. At the time, he was seen as nothing. As less than nothing. Oh, he doesn't mind, mind you. He talked about "glory[ing] in mine infirmities" (2 Corinthians 12:9) indicating that the very things that were designed to make him miserable, he found a way to be happy and to extract joy in the midst. But isn't that what childhood was about? Working through whatever petty problem (food, sleep, boredom) sought to sap our happiness? Paul had the secret. I'd wager to say God gave it to him. And so he doesn't care about being seen as any of those things that, maybe, we are grasping for in our current state. He continues (1 Corinthians 4:14):

"I write not these things to shame you, but as my beloved sons, I warn you."

The law of average

See, there's nothing wrong with being seen as a certain type. As possessing a certain attribute. But the whole passage of Paul's to the Corinthians begins with a simple question. "What has thou that thou didst not receive? now if thou didst receive it, why dost thou glory, as if thou hadst not received it?" (14:7) Strength, honor, wisdom. Even outward things like charisma and tact. Charm, beauty, attractiveness. All these things are gifts. I've been blessed in some ways and there are other ways in which I wish I possessed more confidence. Thing is, all these things are transitory. Doesn't mean we don't work to keep or to build or to capitalize (in the best sense of the word) on the gifts we've been given. God gave them to us in the first place. It behooves us though to give credit where credit is due. To God. And to those who came before.

"Charity never faileth: but whether there be prophecies, they shall fail; whether there be tongues, they shall cease; whether there be knowledge, it shall vanish away. For we know in part, and we prophesy in part. But when that which is perfect is come, then that which is in part shall be done away. When I was a child, I spake as a child, I understood as a child, I thought as a child: but when I became a man, I put away childish things." (1 Corinthians 13:8-11)

Catching 22

Shelf Life