…but to please God…

It was late at night and I had turned to the sink to wash my face before bed. This routine action is usually quickly done. However, on that day, I stood bent, staring down at the water in my hands: clear, transparent and inviting. The thought, This water is not clean, crept into my mind. Although it had an outward vision of seeming clean, every warning about tap-water in China I’ve ever heard flooded through my mind in quick succession, like tuning the dial of a radio with the same message on each channel. I can’t see them, but I know that micro-organisms swim beneath the surface. I may use it for external washing, bathing, cleaning, and rinsing, but I do not partake.

Nevertheless, I splashed the water onto my face, enjoying the refreshment, and headed off to bed.

Later that week, with a yoga mat under my arm, I internally evaluated my interaction with the women I had just exercised with. Did I make enough eye contact? Was my answer to that question clear? Why did the conversation seem a little awkward to me as we rolled up our mats and made small talk? These are some of my best friends, so how could I feel so ungraceful?

The word sincerity popped into my mind.

I was not being sincere.

Too often I answer questions and wade through conversation with “how are they perceiving me?” pricking at my mind. This happens not only with our expat community, but in the classroom with students, and out and about with other nationals. My conversations are shrouded in impure motives and insincere intentions. Like a rusty nail dropped into a cup of water, the water may still seem clear, but I would not drink it.

Paul writes in 1 Thessalonians 2:

For you yourselves know, brothers, that our coming to you was not in vain. But though we had already suffered and been shamefully treated at Philippi, as you know, we had boldness in our God to declare to you the gospel of God in the midst of much conflict. For our appeal does not spring from error or impurity or any attempt to deceive, but just as we have been approved by God to be entrusted with the gospel, so we speak, not to please man, but to please God who tests our hearts. For we never came with words of flattery, as you know, nor with a pretext for greed—God is witness. Nor did we seek glory from people, whether from you or from others, though we could have made demands as apostles of Christ. But we were gentle among you, like a nursing mother taking care of her own children. So, being affectionately desirous of you, we were ready to share with you not only the gospel of God but also our own selves, because you had become very dear to us.

Pure intentions, sincere motives, and a clear gospel

I need to show up with boldness, not to please man but to please God by gently, affectionately thinking of the other instead of myself. I should not seek glory from others. These friends are dear to Jesus and dear to me. Our appeal for the gospel should be for the sake of the gospel, not the sake of ourselves.

An uncomfortable conversation taught me that. Uncomfortable on my part anyway. I don’t even know if the others felt this way about the conversation. Yet it slid my heart into a deeper understanding of myself. It heightened the reminder to slough off pretext, flattery and seemingly harmless worry about the eyes-of-man, and put on boldness, gentleness and care for the other.

What challenges do the words “Pure Intentions, a Clear Gospel” put to your lifestyle and work? Do you need to reevaluate anything you are doing? Take notice of the next time you feel that inkling of worry about the perception of others, and enjoy the freedom in being your sincere self.

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10 Comments

  1. Kara April 4, 2018

    You are not the only one! It seems a constant theme of every intense growth period – how self-absorbed I am (even in showing care to others) and how much I want to steal God’s glory by impressing people.

    Who will rescue me from this body of death?
    Thanks be to God through Christ Jesus our Lord….
    There is therefore now no condemnation for those in Christ Jesus, for the law of the Spirit of *life* has set us free in Christ Jesus from the law of sin and death.

    1. Kimberli Tundevold April 5, 2018

      Amen and Amen! What joy to have Life to set us free!

      And thankfully we can never steal God’s glory. It will always outshine us…it’ll just be humbling to learn the lesson that we can only shine if we’ve invited him in all his glory into our endeavors.

  2. Grace L April 5, 2018

    Thank you for this much needed reminder: “I need to show up with boldness, not to please man but to please God by gently, affectionately thinking of the other instead of myself.” I can get so caught up in whether I am pleasing man and I have done too much of that lately. Your post is helping me to remember to focus on pleasing God.

    1. Kimberli Tundevold April 5, 2018

      Gently and affectionately. Recently I wrote down the names of some of the women in my life here on the field. I bulleted beneath their names things that I appreciate about each one. I was overwhelmed by the affection that I felt at the simple task of just pondering my friends and relationships with nationals.

      I am glad my post encouraged you!

  3. Michele April 5, 2018

    I am reading this half an hour after reading an email from a friend in the States that accuses me of not honoring her feelings- in an email in which my goal was to do just that! It’s not the first misunderstanding with this particular friend and I’ve been wrestling with how to reply or whether to reply at all. Your words brought me right back to the center of it. I had replied to her first email with sincere, pure desire to love her, but I think now I am wrestling with what is loving- and keeps me from being more misunderstood or accused again! Thank you for this reminder to love boldly!

    1. Kimberli Tundevold April 6, 2018

      Wow, Michele. Thank you for sharing your wrestling match. I know the feeling of having conflict like that, where others don’t take our words with understanding of our intentions. I used to often pray in difficult conversations that they would have ears to hear my true intentions in the context of my words. Keep loving boldly. I’ll be praying for you and your friend.

  4. Grace L April 5, 2018

    In reading Kimberli and Michele’s posts, I just have had the thought about expectations. Do others have more expectations of us because of the line of work we are in? Do we have more expectations of others we serve with on the field than is appropriate? Kimberli, your exercise of writing down the things you appreciate about some of the women you interact with on the field was perhaps a way to move from unrealistic expectations of others. And Michele, your dealing with a friend in the States and the misunderstanding when it was intentionally meant to express love and understanding.
    Do the people who send us here have more expectations of us than are realistic? Do we have expectations of those we left behind that are not able to be fulfilled to our thinking? And perhaps even more so, here on the field, do we have unrealistic expectations of team members, and do they have unrealistic expectations of us that can lead to misunderstandings and even accusations. I have felt some of all of these situations here on the field. And for those that I have struggled with here on the field, I think it is a good exercise for me to list their names and write down what I appreciate about them.
    And I appreciate how stimulating our conversations have been here today and have challenged me to not only love boldly but to ponder anew some of these thoughts and approaches to relationships.

    1. Kimberli Tundevold April 6, 2018

      Thank you for your additional questions. You make me want to run to my journal and ponder them all out in writing! It is true that expectations are changed and different simply because of the life we’ve chosen. Expectations of us and our expectations of others. Our experiences and encounters with other cultures and faith backgrounds shape us in new ways. The lens of our worldview changes for sure. I know that I always learn something and have a softer heart whenever I revisit expectations. Thank you again for your thoughtful questions. Again, can’t wait to grab my journal.

  5. Kirstin Durfey April 5, 2018

    Beautifully written with stunning imagery, friend. What a reminder to allow the Father to sift my heart and to remember His approval is what matters above all else!

    1. Kimberli Tundevold April 6, 2018

      Thanks for the affirmation. You are pleasing to God!

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