Summertime: Servant or Self

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Tim Douglass
Minister of Music Arts
Westland Baptist Church

Summertime – what’s not to love? Kids have freedom to play and relax, vacations abound even if only at our home, parents get all the time off they want…. Wait a minute. I guess that last one is not true, is it? Let’s start over.

Summertime – bah humbug! The kids have nothing to do. I still have to work everyday. And, when I’m not working, I run them around to all their stuff. Even vacation is rough because I’m traveling with “them!” Who needs summertime? I want year-round school!

Two extremes from the same mind, perhaps medication is in order. I really do struggle, as many of you probably do, with the summer. It is a cornucopia of opportunity and a jungle of challenges. Sports, church camp, mission trips and vacations fill every week. Sometimes we need a rest from the months of “resting.” The success of our summers, however, really comes down to attitude. And if we “medicate” our attitudes with the Word of God and the character of Christ, our attitudes have a better chance of seeping into the everyday life of summertime. So, with this in mind, let’s look at some scripture that will inspire and challenge us as we prepare for and engage in this great time of year.

Rom 14:17-19
17 For the Kingdom of God is not a matter of what we eat or drink, but of living a life of goodness and peace and joy in the Holy Spirit. 18 If you serve Christ with this attitude, you will please God, and others will approve of you, too. 19 So then, let us aim for harmony in the church and try to build each other up. NLT

Okay, I can hear your minds already. “What does this passage have to do with summer time? This is about not being offensive in our freedoms and God’s children!” Indeed. Yet, not only about that, mostly it teaches to attitude. We are the body of Christ whether at home or at a building used for corporate worship. The harmony God wants to see in the church is the same he wants for our homes. The edification God wants to see in the church is the same he wants for our summer activities. So what is the key to having a good attitude about the summer? We must live a life of goodness, peace and joy in the Holy Spirit.
I would say, “try” to live a life of goodness, etc., except that it places too much emphasis on us and not enough on the power provided by the Holy Spirit. The only effort on our part that will make a difference is our yielding to the Holy Spirit. Let go of trying so hard to act peaceful and good and joyful. Our actions are just the results of our hearts. And the only way our hearts are going to change is to give our attitudes and actions to the Holy Spirit on a daily and sometimes a moment-by-moment basis. So this is the first thing. Now remember, none of us has arrived so we are moving together through this jungle. Let’s move on to the book of Philippians.
Philippians 2:3-8
3 Don’t be selfish; don’t try to impress others. Be humble, thinking of others as better than yourselves. 4 Don’t look out only for your own interests, but take an interest in others, too. 5 You must have the same attitude that Christ Jesus had. 6 Though he was God, he did not think of equality with God as something to cling to. 7 Instead, he gave up his divine privileges; he took the humble position of a slave and was born as a human being. When he appeared in human form, 8 he humbled himself in obedience to God and died a criminal’s death on a cross. NLT

I don’t like this passage at all. At least the carnal side of my soul doesn’t like it. Besides, I’m not such a bad guy. Hey, people like me! This is the hardest for me to deal with and perhaps the most difficult for you as well, especially verse 4. I really love my kids and even like being with them, but how many hours can one sit on the floor and color or play with Legos, or watch video games? I admit that my attention span can be short and my selfishness long. Does anyone know what I mean?
If we can grasp serving our children like we would Jesus, how different would our summer activities be? What if I always look after their interests instead of just my own? And that means sometimes doing with them the things I least want to do. That also means not allowing them to do some things just because it creates convenience for me! You know what I’m talking about, don’t you? We all have self-interest in almost every situation. And we are challenged to look beyond just self and think of others. It may not be convenient. It may not seem affordable. It may not be the least bit interesting. It may not be easy. But, whatever “it” is, “it” becomes the opportunity to either become more like Christ or less like him. With these things in mind we move on to the book of James.

James 3:13-18
3 If you are wise and understand God’s ways, prove it by living an honorable life, doing good works with the humility that comes from wisdom. 14 But if you are bitterly jealous and there is selfish ambition in your heart, don’t cover up the truth with boasting and lying. 15 For jealousy and selfishness are not God’s kind of wisdom. Such things are earthly, unspiritual, and demonic. 16 For wherever there is jealousy and selfish ambition, there you will find disorder and evil of every kind. 17 But the wisdom from above is first of all pure. It is also peace loving, gentle at all times, and willing to yield to others. It is full of mercy and good deeds. It shows no favoritism and is always sincere. 18 And those who are peacemakers will plant seeds of peace and reap a harvest of righteousness. NLT.
I have included this passage as a reminder of all that was before it and a capstone set in place by the book of Proverbs, “Above all seek wisdom.” We cannot sustain a life of goodness, peace, joy or unselfishness without wisdom. A lack of wisdom is what so devastates our society and the world. True wisdom only comes from God. And it has less to do with how much one knows than with how much one trusts the mind of God.

Knowledge helps us explore and begin to understand our issues. It might even diagnose the problem and assign the needed medication to create a solution. But only wisdom can sustain us when knowledge falters. James says that the wisdom from God is pure, peace loving, gentle every time, yielding, full of mercy and good deed, fair and sincere. I don’t know about you, but this list makes my decision-making appear to be lacking. And if my decision-making about the summer time and summer plans is short of wisdom, no one will come away for the better.

I challenge myself and all of you to pray for wisdom, to daily seek wisdom through God’s Word, and to consciously rely on the Holy Spirit to mold us into the image of Christ – the Creator of the summer.

Pastor Tim Douglas, Minister of Music Arts
Westland Baptist Church
Katy, Texas

This series of devotionals will continue throughout 2008 on our church website – and my blog – . Feel free to visit and
add comments or questions.

Pastor Tim Douglas has served at Westland Baptist Church since 1999. He holds Bachelor’s and Masters Degrees in Theology, Religious Education and Old Testament Interpretation. He serves as the Minister of Music Arts, preaches for the Nursing Home Ministry and leads an adult Small Group.

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