Our oldest daughter came home from youth group and said, “I will never go back there!” Thinking it was just a fleeting emotion, I didn’t say much. Sunday rolled around, and she made it clear she was not going to church. Looking back, I wish I would have paused and really considered, “What’s happening? What’s going on inside of her right now?”
Church has been part of our lives as a family, and it’s been her life. The week before, she’d invited friends to the youth group. She had been on a mission trip to Mexico with this group. I did not consider the backstory for her refusal, but I said, “We are a Christian family that goes to church together, and that’s what we are going to do today.” She refused and true to her word, she has never gone back to church since.
Clearly, I did not apply the wisdom Paul shared with the Thessalonian believers. He instructed his fellow Christ-followers to consider the condition of those in their community and respond with that in mind. Each was to be given a unique response based on their condition. The idle and disruptive were to be warned. Encouragement was to be extended to the discouraged, and a helping hand to the weak.
Paul’s advice requires us to pause and first consider the state of the individual. None of us are perfect, and we all have things we are dealing with. He suggests that we be patient with everyone and don’t react too quickly. Instead, let’s work at doing what is good for one another.
Father, help me to have eyes to see what is happening in the lives of people around me. Please use me as an instrument so I can be good and patient with everyone. I need your wisdom to respond patiently, not just react to their behavior. Thank you for your work in my life. Amen.
Go Deeper — Would those closest to you describe you as a reactor or a responder? Responders seek to fit their action to the unique set of circumstances and people. Reactors act quickly without much thought of the person or context.
Photo Credit: Marten Newhall