The holidays are quickly approaching and with them holiday pies, such as pumpkin, sweet potato, apple, pecan, mincemeat, and more! Despite the great abundance of overeating that takes place, perhaps you’ve had a dieter come up to your dessert table and say, “I’ll have just a sliver!” So, you try to cut this teeny, tiny piece to fulfill their request, thinking to yourself, “I want more, not less!”
I’ve recently been thinking a lot about how we can approach life in the same kind of way. What I mean is that we can have particular interests or convictions that we are very passionate about, and we can narrowly focus on them, making it seem as though that tiny sliver sums up the entire Christian life.
Just get us into a conversation, or a debate, about that topic, and we could go on for hours. We sometimes think that others ought to have the same amount of passion and desire to spend the same amount of time and resources to do things the same way that we do. And we might even go so far as to think that others are wrong (or in sin) for not agreeing with us. Meanwhile, they might actually agree with us regarding that particular biblical principle, yet simply differ in their application of it.
So, let’s take a look at five common areas of “Just a Sliver” thinking. (There are plenty more!)
One area might be EVANGELISM. In this sliver, folks are so focused on the right way to share the gospel or do missions that they forget that the Christian life isn’t just about missions. We must ask ourselves, is the Great Commission found in Matthew 28 all that Scripture speaks about? Does my passion for door-to-door evangelism cause me to think that someone educating a handful of little ones at home isn’t doing enough kingdom work? If you are in a very outreach-oriented church, this might be a temptation.
Another area of challenge is EDUCATION. Scripture calls us to train up our children (Prov. 22:6), and to diligently talk with them when we sit, walk, lie down, and get up (Deut. 6:7). But what is the best way to provide a God-centered education? When we have made that decision for our family, we can find ourselves looking down on those who have chosen a different path for training their children.
Outreach to neighbors and fellowship with believers open up conversations about the best way to engage in ENTERTAINING (aka hospitality). Paul tells Timothy that widows shouldn’t be added to the widow list unless they were known for showing hospitality; yet, these widows were also to be known for being faithful to their husbands and doing other good deeds, such as bringing up children (1 Tim. 5:10). Thus, their hospitality wasn’t the only important aspect of their lives, and the way in which they engaged in hospitality isn’t mentioned.
Perhaps you have met people who have convictions about a certain kind of EATING: organic, gluten-free, vegan, low fat, high-fat (oops, I mean Keto!). The choices are endless. As you have researched, tried, and benefited from a particular diet, either by losing weight, solving health problems, or even avoiding illness, just remember Paul’s admonition, “If your brother or sister is distressed because of what you eat, you are no longer acting in love. Do not by your eating destroy someone for whom Christ died” (Rom. 14:15).
The call to take care of the outer man is certainly biblical, so, in addition to nutrition, most Christians would agree that we all need some level of EXERCISE. For many people, however, fitness will never be the most important thing, in agreement with Paul, who reminded Timothy that “physical training is of some value, but godliness has value for all things, holding promise for both the present life and the life to come” (1 Timothy 4:8). Faithful exercise will vary from person to person, from those poised in the starting block to those just faithfully walking around the block.
To summarize, all of the things mentioned above are important; yet, we should remember that the little slivers of our lives where we have the resources (time, money, energy, etc.) to focus right now may differ from our friends. This doesn’t mean they are wrong for not sharing the same passions in the same areas at the same time or to the same extent. Nor should our own overemphasis in one sliver of life keep us from faithfulness in other areas where Scripture speaks.
We need to recognize that we are all called to a whole pie approach to Scripture. The whole counsel of God instructs us at all ages and stages of life. We can be encouraged by the passion of others and even learn from them, while remembering that no one sliver sums up the entire Christian life. We all need to be whole pie Christians!