From Craw to Comfort

“Now Barnabas wanted to take with them John called Mark. But Paul thought best not to take with them one who had withdrawn from them in Pamphylia and had not gone with them to the work. And there arose a sharp disagreement, so that they separated from each other. Barnabas took Mark with him and sailed away to Cyprus.” Acts 15:37-39

“Aristarchus my fellow prisoner greets you, and Mark the cousin of Barnabas (concerning whom you have received instructions—if he comes to you, welcome him), and Jesus who is called Justus. These are the only men of the circumcision among my fellow workers for the kingdom of God, and they have been a comfort to me.” Colossians 4:10-11

Mark had changed. Having been mentored by his steady, optimistic, servant-minded, encourager cousin Barnabas, Mark had obviously matured in Christ. Through growing surrender to God, and tangible experience along their mission travels, he’d tested and approved God’s direction, enabling, and will. His Redeemer had transformed him from Paul’s craw into a comfort. (Romans 12:1-2)

Paul had also changed, chiseled and molded by the harsh tumble of suffering, injustice, and opposition. He had become more gracious, willing to strive and work with others’ weaknesses toward spiritual growth. (2 Corinthians 11:23-28; Philemon 10-20)

In Christ, we never stay the same. Sanctification is a dynamic process by which the Spirit continually transforms, refines, and shapes our every aspect to be like Christ. It bears growth in personal character and the willingness to extend grace, acceptance, forgiveness, and love to others because of all Christ exhibited toward us. (Romans 15:1-3; 2 Corinthians 3:18; Ephesians 4:32)

How am I changing? Have I settled in to irritations that make me cantankerous and unappealing, or that prevent me from seeing the good and building up the potential in someone else? Do I dismiss someone with whom I find few commonalities with impatient repulsion, or ask God to open possibilities? Where am I exhibiting more patience, graciousness, generosity, kindness, forgiveness, courtesy, compassion, self-control? How have I become a better listener, lover, servant, helper, encourager, communicator, steward of resources?

How entrenched am I in idiosyncrasies and habits that can be off-putting or irritating to others? Do I distract from their seeing Jesus by foolish antics or unsavory talk? While being overly self-conscious isn’t a healthy preoccupation, it’s important that we’re self aware enough to know how we come across. We’re to put off old ways and put on Christ and spread His fragrance in this acrid world. What in my countenance or behavior would draw another to Jesus? Are my words a constant drone of complaint and negativities, or of upbuilding and gratitude? In what specific areas do I need the Lord’s mighty touch and transformation? (2 Corinthians 2:14-16; Colossians 3:5-17)

Good Father, extricate any vestige of craw from my attitude and actions, and help me do all I can to be a palpable comfort instead. Help me see others with Your loving and merciful eyes and embrace them with your generous heart, that we all grow up into the fullness of Christ. (Ephesians 4:11-14)

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