Last week I ended with the example of our pizza delivery business making $2 on every $10 purchase, and you may have thought I wandered far off the subject - not the case!
Time set aside and infrastructure
In the same way it would be wrong for a business owner to spend the whole $10 sale on themselves rather than setting $2 profit aside, I have been 'spending' the whole 7 day week on myself rather than setting aside 1 day as 'profit'.
I also shared how Jesus first set up an infrastructure before the blessing was poured out: Seating thousands in groups of 50's and 100's, and organizing unused water pots to fill with water that would be turned into wine. So let us combine those 2 elements today.
What infrastructure have I now established to enable the blessing intended in taking a full day off per week to have its full effect? For me, the first thing I purposed was to 'unplug' from the Internet one day each week. No checking email, Facebook, Messenger, Skype, text messages, etc. The phone is on the table away from me. That infrastructure is enabling me to relax and focus on the day and recharge myself - without guilt I might add, because in days past I would feel guilty for not working.
If the Lord is dealing with a person about their diet, what infrastructure must they set up in order for God to bless them in their efforts? If He is dealing with them about say, not eating carbohydrates to focus on proteins and vegetables, do they need to clean out their pantry and give those factory-made canned goods and chips and crackers to a food bank? (And/or to someone who God is not dealing with about those issues)
If He is dealing with someone about handling money, getting out of debt for example, do they need to cut up or lock away charge cards to keep themselves from going into more debt? Do they need to sit down and examine their spending and organize a budget as a basic infrastructure needed before the Father can pour more finances on them?
Epaphras (shortened version of Epaphroditis)
In Colossians 4:12 Paul describes Epaphras who prays fervently for them all, the verb meaning 'to strive (strongly)' in prayer. Paul elsewhere describes this prayer warrior as a fellow prisoner, servant, and one who ministered to his needs. He sacrificially gave and prayed and traveled with Paul and ran messages to and from the (home) churches for Paul.
In Philippians 2: 25-30 Paul says he was 'sick near unto death', but God had mercy. He says in v30: "Because for the work of Christ he was sick near unto death, not regarding his life to supply your lack of service toward me."
Epaphras worked himself sick. In the last part of this sentence it sounds like Paul is indicting the Philippians for their lack of care for him, but it comes across too strongly in the English. The Greek conveys they did not yet have the opportunity to give to Paul, and that Epaphras worked himself sick to help supply Paul with support. In fact later in this letter, in 4:14-18 he acknowledges they did not have the opportunity, but since then Epaphras had come from them with an offering.
Some suggest the Greek indicates Epaphras was reckless in the risking of his life and health for Paul. He was constantly busy, that much we can see. He wore himself down to the point of death according to Paul's own words. The Greek word Paul uses for sick means 'weak, feeble, sick'. The mercy of the Lord here was not there for a divine healing, but allowing him to recover. Epaphras did it to himself. Paul, from whose hands we see so many miracles in Acts, could not heal him. The illness which was the result of over working had to run its course, and he eventually recovered.
That tendency to overwork is what caused my vertigo, so I've taken a lesson from Epaphras in this. How many of us because of work, career, school, volunteering at church, playing taxi to our kids and so forth have worked ourselves to the point of illness brought on by exhaustion like Epaphras? Sins against the body stay in and manifest in, the body.
Prejudice, holding onto bias against others are sins manifesting in the body
Much is known of the culture of ancient Corinth. It was a seaport, the city motto was 'liberty and knowledge', it was a city where 3 cultures came together: Roman, Greek, and Jewish. It was known the 'white collar' business owners did not mix with the 'blue collar' dock workers and laborers. Not much different than today really. That was the culture of the city.
But Acts 18: 7-8 tells us many of each of these 3 groups became believers. These 3 cultures with all their cultural 'baggage' met initially in the home of the Roman Gaius Justus, also led by Crispus the ruler of the synagogue.
In I Corinthians 11: 18-32 Paul criticizes some of them because they refuse to eat the Lord's Supper with the others (in Justus' house), meeting ahead of time to eat separately, having their own Lord's Supper among themselves. He tells them they can eat anytime in their own homes, and are despising the body of Christ in splitting off. He tells them that they should rightly discern the Lord's body and join the others. He then concludes about their prejudice:
"Those who eat and drink (The Lord's Supper) without correctly understanding the body are eating and drinking their own judgement. Because of this many of you are weak and sickly, and some have died (early). But if we judge ourselves we won't be judged. If we are judged however, it is from the Lord that we not be condemned with the world." (v29-32)
Consider the case of the Corinthians: Disliking others in their (home) church opened them up to sickness. In chapter 3 of his first letter Paul said they were breaking off to make closed groups, one following Apollos, another following Paul, and so on. He told them to stop it and grow up. Jesus is what matters, who they all have in common.
For those creating a clique apart from the others there was no divine healing offered; Paul mentioning the reason for their illnesses but offered no prayer for them - they did it to themselves. They said they didn't need the others. It was up to them to correct their attitude which in turn would close the door on their many sicknesses. They were to judge themselves.
This is serious stuff folks. Human nature seeks the lazy way out, the way of no responsibility, the short cut: "Please God heal me but don't make me deal with my heart." But if you did it to yourself, there will be no divine healing. Mercy maybe, like with Epaphras who recovered, but not an instant healing. Obviously not every sickness and condition is the result of people doing it to themselves, but in this narrowly focused study, we can see there are some who qualify as having done it to themselves; like Epaphras and some of the Corinthians (and John, lol).
Next week, balancing faith and medicine and who Jesus healed in the gospels...Not what you think! Until then, blessings,
www.cwowi.org and email me at firstname.lastname@example.org