Every gear shift knob is different in appearance. The number of gears can range, the position of reverse can be different, but one thing is consistent on every single one… There is a line between all the numbers and the R that represents the neutral position. When the gears are in neutral, all of the effectiveness of that engine are gone. You can have gas in the tank, oil in the engine, it can be running… but when you step on the gas and fire up those pistons (but are in neutral), the car makes noise but cannot go anywhere.
However, neutral is the only place where you can take your foot off of the clutch and allow the engine to idle. While that engine idles, it is running, it has gas, but since the gears are not engaged, it cannot go anywhere.
This line between the gears it not intended to be a place you leave the engine for any length of time. It is a pass through position between gears, and it is a place to rest for short moments at a light, but it is not a place where you would spend very much time.
We all have that idle position on our gear shift of life. As we transition between phases in life, we pass through idle. But the point is that we pass through it, we don’t stay there. However all too often, many people get stuck in idle. Sometimes they’re there out of fear, sometimes out of indecision. But in all cases, being stuck in idle is not where God intends us to remain.
Paul spoke of this group in his final words in 1 Thessalonians. “And we urge you, brothers, admonish the idle, encourage the fainthearted, help the weak, be patient with them all.” (1 Thess 5:14). He tells us to ‘admonish the idle’. Other versions say ‘warn the unruly’. The idle or unruly are those who claim to be Christians but are not showing it in their lives. Paul tells us to warm those people but also be patient. In this verse he refers to the idle, the fainthearted and the weak, but then tells us to be patient.
So if you find yourself stuck in idle, the warning is not to get comfortable there. The only way to engage the power of Christ in you is to get in gear… even if that is a downshift from where you were, stay in gear. Stay in His word, stay connected with a community of believers, pray without ceasing.
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