We don’t hear about “Hot-Rivet Syndrome” today. But in the 1870’s, in the early days of Levi’s Jeans, metal rivets were not for decoration, they were added to hold weak seams together. One of the weakest seams in jeans was at the crotch. A strategically placed rivet helped to secure that seam. In the late 1800’s cowboys coming in off the range, would kneel or squat in front of warm fires and that rivet would heat up. Upon standing up, well, the sensation was not good. One evening in 1933, the president of Levi Strauss, went camping. That rivet was never used again. New information, when received, can inspire people to change.
The first law of motion is that, “Everything continues in a state of rest unless it is compelled to change by forces impressed upon it.” Tobacco was once considered a cure for cancer … new information changed our understanding of tobacco. Yet people who know better still smoke, having convinced themselves that what is obviously wrong is right when it makes us feel good. Some people will change when they see the light.
Others change only when they feel the heat. Many more refuse to change no matter the importance of doing so. For Christians, change is a promise.
Philippians 1:6 (ESV) And I am sure of this, that he who began a good work in you will bring it to completion at the day of Jesus Christ.
God is going to complete the work in you that He has begun. At the same time, we can be a hindrance to that work when we fight against His refining and pruning of us. There are five important elements of Christian Growth that we find in Acts 20. Those are Accountability, Encouragement, Companionship, Hope, and Comfort. Over the next few months, we’ll take a look at these five things.
Acts 20:1 (NKJV) After the uproar had ceased, Paul called the disciples to himself, embraced them, and departed to go to Macedonia.
In Acts 19, the silversmiths in Ephesus were seeing their sales decline because Christians did not purchase idols. They caused a riot in which two of Paul’s companions were taken into the stadium where their lives were in great danger. Paul wanted to go inside the stadium to defend the lives of Gaius and Aristarchus, but other friends would not let him because to do so would have placed his own life in danger. Because Paul was willing to listen to those friends, he was preserved from harm or even death, reunited with his friends and able to continue in his mission. Friends stand up for friends and friends also keep friends from making dumb or rash decisions. The first of these four elements of growth is friendship and with friendship comes accountability. Accountability is not something that comes easy. It requires a great deal of humility. It’s the ability to submit yourself to the responsibility of others. It is the acceptance of obligation to give account of one’s actions and even receive correction … with thanksgiving. The “with thanksgiving” part is important because prickly friends have hands-off relationships in which people tip toe around them and they never grow.
Paul embraced friendship and companionship, and he did so wherever he went. He confronted friends whom he saw making concessions and he was certainly willing to be confronted in concessions he may have made. Had this not have been the case, he would have traveled alone. But Paul always traveled with other brothers in Christ. We also travel with brothers in Christ. We are together, a family. I receive from you and you receive from me.
There is none in this family who is greater, but we all have our special place within the body of Christ, submitted to the head Who is Jesus. We play a part in the refining and the pruning process of one another. That’s a role we must give permission to one another to have, but when we do, we grow in Christ together. That’s a role we must give permission to one another to have, but when we do, we grow in Christ together.
When the uproar of the riot had ceased, Paul gathered his Christian brothers and embraced them. If you want to grow, you must embrace your friends. Let them in your life. Tell them how much they mean to you. Tell them how much you need them. You can’t do it without them. We need each other.