Friday, July 7, 2023

Vowing Stability

 By: Lauren Thomas

When I’m reading Paul’s letters to the churches, I notice that aside from teaching doctrine, Paul takes time to instruct his recipients how to engage in relationships with each other. He tells them to submit to one another (Ephesians 5:21) He tells them to consider others over themselves (Philippians 2:2-4). He tells them to use their words to build up, not to tear down; to forgive; and to put away any emotions that would destroy relationships (Ephesians 4:25-32).


Paul was writing to churches that assembled in people’s homes. These house churches were few and far between. When someone confessed faith in Jesus, they became part of one of these house churches, one geographically nearest them. In these communities, believers had to navigate relationships. When things got sticky, they didn’t have the option of driving a few miles further to attend a different church where they could start fresh with new people.


But in our society, I have observed people change churches, jobs, and even families when relationships become difficult. There is an allure to thinking that it would be easier to start over than to figure out complicated relationship dynamics. 


Benedictine monks take what is called a “vow of stability.” It means they will remain in the same monastic community their entire lives. This is a beautiful thing that allows them to practice what Paul talks about in his letters. Character flaws and rough edges get smoothed out when people vow to stay, through thick and thin, for better or for worse.


Proverbs 27:17 (ESV)

Iron sharpens iron, and one man sharpens another.


What if we took our church communities as seriously as the New Testament churches did, or Paul did, or Benedictine monks do? It wouldn’t be easy, but it could serve as a catalyst to change us into the likeness of Jesus. When we don’t “stay” or stick it out, we miss the opportunity to practice the things Paul taught. Stability, the act of staying, means we get to be positioned where Jesus can change us to look more like him!


It gives a new meaning to “not forsaking the assembling of ourselves” (see Hebrews 10:25 KJV):


Hebrews 10:25 (ESV)

not neglecting to meet together, as is the habit of some, but encouraging one another, and all the more as you see the Day drawing near.



What is the longest you’ve stayed in one place? How did your time there impact you? Is there any area of your life in which you could be challenged and grow by vowing stability there?

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