What were you raised on? For some of us, we remember the good and wholesome nights of family games, story-telling, and an Sunday drives after church. Others might remember being raised with a strong emphasis on competitive sports, cheering on your favorite teams with gusto while regaled in the team colors. Still others may have lived a little more introverted and remember long, lazy days reading ravenously, being carried away into the world of imagination and dreams. What we "were raised on" becomes the foundation of what it is we "pass on" in this life. I imagine we all have our memories of how we were raised and what it was which seemed to be of "value" to the family we were raised in. Yet, I also am aware some may not have had much in the way of "family life" and those memories are a little clouded or almost negative - so this "family life" in Christ is made a little more difficult, as a result.
You’ve been raised on the Message of the faith and have followed sound teaching. Now pass on this counsel to the followers of Jesus there, and you’ll be a good servant of Jesus. Stay clear of silly stories that get dressed up as religion. Exercise daily in God—no spiritual flabbiness, please! Workouts in the gymnasium are useful, but a disciplined life in God is far more so, making you fit both today and forever. You can count on this. Take it to heart. This is why we’ve thrown ourselves into this venture so totally. We’re banking on the living God, Savior of all men and women, especially believers. (I Timothy 4:6-10 MSG)
In God's family, he expects us to pass on what it is we receive. A few years back I had the privilege of volunteering one weekend at something referred to as "Saturday Sunday School" held at the local Teen Challenge center. It is a program which provides a huge bus ministry to the kids in the poorer sections of town. They come to the Saturday gathering for several reasons - it provides them something special to do on their weekend while many of their parents are "absent" from them; they get snacks and a safe place to "hang out"; and they enjoy lots of fun and games. Interwoven through all this is the sharing of the Word in puppet shows, videos, story-telling, and crafts. It always amazed me to see the older, more "street-wise" teens who would come along with their younger siblings. They were like watchful hens and roosters - guarding their "kin" and insuring no one mistreated their "brood". The most amazing thing I saw though was the intensity of love they have for their siblings - often forgoing their own snack to pass it down to a hungrier younger one in the group. Gang rivalry was put aside, bravado was put in the backseat for a few hours, and I watched as these "families" took care of each other. I think this is a picture of what God intends with all his kids who are called his "family"!
Our "thing" we "pass along" is not the cookies and juice, but the meat of the Word and the testimony of God's grace in our lives. We "pass on" the counsel we have received from the Word - so others may take it in and be nourished by the depth of its wisdom. We "pass on" the testimony of his grace in our lives so others may "taste" a little bit of the transforming power of his unending grace. These are more than "silly stories that get dressed up as religion". They are life-transforming testimonies of what God is doing in the lives of those he loves and cares for - nurtured under the watchfulness of his eye and nestled into the protection of his arms.
The command in our passage is pertinent to all of us: Pass on what we receive. I think this is the purpose of my blog - to pass on what God gives me rather than just holding these life-lessons all up for myself. When we hold these things to ourselves, we are just going to become "fat" Christians. We actually stay "spiritually-fit" when we are sharing what it is we have been given and learned at the feet of Jesus! Any time we "take in" without "giving out", we get flabby! This is as true in the spiritual sense as it is in the physical! What is given is meant to be given away - this is a principle clearly outlined in scripture.
Now, let me give you a word of caution here. Not everything we are given is to be given away - sometimes we need to ruminate on it a while until it becomes a little clearer and has had its effect on our lives. When we give out spiritual truth without fully understanding it, it is still truth, but it lacks the same "integrity" which becomes very apparent when it shared from a life which has truly been changed by that same truth. Sometimes I think we need a little "breathing room" to allow the Word to take hold in us - then we will be able to "give out" what we have taken in because through the "exercise" of the Word within us, we are able to share it with a power behind it!
Disciplined lives are learned in the process of moving from undisciplined living into the place of embracing what we know to be true and acting upon it. If I know my heart will be made stronger (since it is a muscle) by vigorous exercise, and I actually take a walk everyday to strengthen my heart, I am moving from undisciplined living into disciplined living. I am acting upon what I know to be truth. The reality of the truth becomes very apparent when I am no longer winded at the end of my walk, but invigorated and energized for the other activities I need to accomplish that day! What happened is strength came to my heart by the actions I took. What happens spiritually when we "exercise" our faith based on the truths we know is that we develop "spiritual strength" and we are able to "endure" longer and tougher battles as a result.
What we are raised on matters - what we do with what we are raised on matters more! Just sayin!