2 Timothy 2:10, “So I am willing to endure anything if it will bring salvation and eternal glory in Christ Jesus to those God has chosen.” (NLT)
You may be familiar with this, perhaps not. Third World countries experience poverty on a level that’s difficult for us to imagine. We live in a First World country. By Third World standards even our poor are quite wealthy. Our friends at WaterIsLife.com produced a video about first world problems, take a look.
The idea isn’t to make people like me and you feel guilty over the things we have, but to help us recognize how remarkably blessed we are. We are so blessed that our complaints and problems sound petty compared to the life threatening challenges of clean water, sustainable food sources and severe medical needs faced by Third World populations.
The Bible tells us that too whom much is given, much is required. If you’re reading this blog, you have been given much. How will you give out of the abundance of what God has given you? That’s not really a money question. It can be, but you have so much more to offer than just money.
Christianity has it’s own set of First World problems. 2 Timothy 2 talks about some of them. Paul repeatedly tells Timothy not to get involved in foolish arguments. He tells Timothy to remind people to stop fighting over words. It’s easy to see Believers today side-tracked by the Christian equivalent of First World problems.
Insert your choice of words here:
- The music at church is too…(loud, quiet, traditional, contemporary, inauthentic, unprofessional).
- The preacher at my church preaches…(too long, too short, too deep, too shallow, without enough meat, without enough application, without enough stories, with too many stories).
- I could never share the gospel with them they…(would be offended, might think I’m weird, would never believe that really matters to me, would hold me to a higher standard).
- I’m switching churches because my kids…(don’t connect here, like the program over there, need more personal attention, need a larger group with more activities).
- I’m thinking about going somewhere else because my church changed…(locations, Sunday School, Small Groups, Sunday night services, visitation, the free coffee they serve on Sunday morning).
To be honest, none of these ideas are inherently wicked. We have a responsibility to carefully consider the group of people God intends for us to grow with, be accountable to and partner with in ministry. We should be diligent to make certain our practice of faith in the church we attend closely aligns with the principles of Scripture. That said, too often these are the comfortable problems debated by people privileged enough to have the time, energy and resources to argue about why my preferences are better than yours. These first world Christian problems lead to broken relationships, declining church influence and the splintered strength of the body of Christ.
Paul says in 2 Timothy 2:10, “So I am willing to endure anything if it will bring salvation and eternal glory in Christ Jesus to those God has chosen.”
What are you willing to endure in order to share the gospel? What first world christian problems do you vainly cling to? Have you willingly abandoned significant relationships with family, friends or your church family because you cherish your preferences more?
It’s amazing how on the mission field, in countries closed to the gospel, these first world Christian problems simply don’t seem that significant after all.
What are you willing to endure in order to share the gospel?
I am tremendously blessed. Show me what and how to give to others out of the abundance of what you have given me. When I’m tempted to fight to get my way give me the discernment to know the difference between Biblical principle and my personal preferences. I want to fight for Biblical principle. I want to fight to keep strong and healthy relationships with my family, friends and church family. Help me to willingly lay aside my preferences in order to keep my relationships strong. Give me the strength and courage to willingly endure anything if it will bring salvation and eternal glory in Christ Jesus to those God has chosen.
I love you, in Jesus name –