Tuesday, August 12, 2014

A Question, Word and Song: Epieikes

Philippians 4:4-7: Rejoice in the Lord always. I will say it again: Rejoice! Let your gentleness be evident to all. The Lord is near. Do not be anxious about anything, but in every situation, by prayer and petition, with thanksgiving, present your requests to God. And the peace of God, which transcends all understanding, will guard your hearts and your minds in Christ Jesus.

Devotional Series
#1 - Kyrios
#2 - Merimnao
#3 - Epieikes

The Question: How are our wounds showing themselves in our life?

In the last devotional post, we look at how wounds - anger, despair, fear, shame - can cause us to hold back from participating in receiving God's joyous gifts and sharing those with joy in our community. This week, I want to make sure that we are paying attention. That we see our own needs. That we are ready to participate.

It's easy to say that, sure, I have fears, angers and despairs. It's harder to be specific. But without the specifics, it's easy to sweep everything under the rug and not worry about moving toward God. Not worry about moving toward joy. It's like many sins. I can easily say to you, "Yep, I am a sinful person." It's much harder for me to confess what my specific sins are!

So, can you identify this? What actions in your life are simply manifestations of your wounds? How does your anger come out? What behavior are you undertaking simply because it masks your fear?

How are your wounds showing up?

The Word: Epieikes

If you don't have an immediate answer, that's okay. We're going to dive in a little bit more today. We're going to contemplate this word epieikes.

Paul doesn't note how our wounds show up in the verse in Philippians. He only concedes that they are there. We will be tempted to be anxious, disrupted from our tranquil state. But he doesn't list out the ways that we might notice that.

Instead, he jumps into the solution. In many ways, Paul is a very practical writer. Sometimes he'll lay out the causes, but most of the time his writing is about the solution to particular problems. Here, he gives three suggestions, things to do to help with the wounds.

1. Let your gentleness be evident.
2. Ask God to help in everything.
3. Do the asking with thanksgiving.

My next post will dive even farther into these. But right now, let's look at the negative. The opposite of one of these solutions. Because in that, I think we'll start to recognize our damaging actions. The actions that are coming out of our woundedness.

The word "gentleness" in our tennis verse is epieikes. It comes from eikos which means "fair" or "equitable" are the modifier or prefix epi- which just adds intensity to the word. This is a state of mind where we are extremely fair and equitable in our judgments and treatments of others. It comes from knowing that we have been made whole, that we are in right relationship with God, and that we have nothing to prove over other people. It is not anxious to prove itself by putting others down, in other words.

Ah, and right there is the clue to what happens when our wounds start manifesting themselves. What happens when we don't have epieikes? When we start to feel the pressure of our wounds, our anger, fear or shame and don't have this calm realization that our trust and worth come from God? If we lack epieikes, our judgment, comparison and condemnation will start to come out against others.

There's all sorts of ways that this might spew out, but let me give you five ways that I see it coming out. When we are not secure in our worth from God, we will...
- complain.
- compare.
- compete.
- control.
- criticize.

And all of those done not out of love, but out of spite. Out of wanting to make ourselves feel better because our wound hurts.

And instead of a cycle of joy and love, we lash out at others. Suddenly, we've created a cycle of wounds, as others become hurt by our words.

What does this mean for tennis?

Do those actions describe you within our community?

Are you known for complaining? Comparing yourself to everybody else? Competing with no regard for rules, relationship or the other people around? Trying to control the situation and the people within it? Criticizing coaches, teammates, opponents, etc?

If you are, those actions kill joy. They kill joy because they don't come out of trust for God. They are coming out of your wound.

And so, what to do? Well, according to Paul, in every situation, by prayer and petition, we need to present our requests to God. If we are wounded, there is a healer.

The name is Jesus. And there is none other.

He knows the wounds, he's been on the earth, he has incredible compassion. The first step to any healing is to take that request to God.

And so here's a prayer for you today. Pray it if you need it. Jesus is always the first step.

"Lord Jesus, I ask for YOUR healing. The healing that YOU promise to all that ask in Your name,Lord Jesus Christ. I am in need of healing, be it spiritual, emotional, or physical. For you know my heart, soul and need - I put my faith and trust in you, Jesus. Heal me from fear. Heal me from shame. Heal me from sadness. Heal me from anger. Heal me from deceit. With the power of Jesus Christ I pray, heal my heart, soul, mind and strength. Amen."

The Song: "Nothing But the Blood of Jesus"

An old hymn... what can make us whole, fair, equitable, back to epieikes? Nothing but Jesus... by three different artists :-)

Rock - "Nothing But the Blood of Jesus" by Citizens

Folk - "Nothing But the Blood of Jesus" by Wilder Adkins

Indie - "Nothing But the Blood of Jesus" by Page CXVI

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