Monday, August 20, 2012

Once Upon A Time…

“We who are strong ought to bear with the failings of the weak and not to please ourselves.” Romans 15.1

Remember the story of Goldilocks and the Three Bears?  Sure you do.  You recall how Goldilocks was wandering through the forest when she comes upon the house of the three bears.  She finds no one home, so she enters the home and helps herself to the fixings of the dinner table, the family chairs, and ultimately their beds!  But what does it all mean?  The modern interpretation merely tells of a girl on a journey seeking her own comfort and pleasure.  She’s looking for all that is “just right.”  However, we could also interpret the tale as a cautionary story.  Helping one to other’s possessions may bring you face to face with a house full of bears!  Beware.

Never one to turn down a fun play on words, I thought it might be beneficial to examine three Biblical “bears” and apply them to our day-to-day living.  So, let’s go!  Three Bears.  Three Days.
Today: Bear Number 1: “Bear With The Failings of the Weak.”

You What??
Are you ever judgmental of the behavior or beliefs of others?  I have to confess that sometimes I am.  I don’t mean to be.  But sometimes people can do, or think the most outlandish things!  Maybe they are reading a passage of scripture and twisting it completely out of context.  Or maybe they hold a belief about God that you or I would find completely contradictory to common understanding.  Again, perhaps although they profess to be believers, they still have very worldly behaviors, or even obvious sins in their everyday actions or attitudes. 

I observe situations like this to be common particularly when young believers (and by young, I don’t necessarily mean in terms of age, but spiritual maturity) are a part of the equation.  How we handle such situations might mean the difference between helping someone to mature in the faith, OR crushing their zeal for their new faith…even causing them to abandon the cause altogether.  We must be very careful.
The writer of Romans encourages the reader to “bear with the failings of the weak.”  How would we understand this?  Let’s imagine our reactions to the failings of young believers to include tolerance, patience, long suffering, being slow to judge the intentions and actions of others.  A position which seeks to fully understand, and then to be understood can really go a long way toward encouraging someone who has just found their wings, and helping them to…well, fly right.

We keep in mind that the arrogance of self-righteousness won’t get us far…even with mature Christians, much less the insecurities of the baby believer.  If we think about it, Jesus was a pro at teaching, at communicating without crushing.  Remember his dealings with Nicodemus, the teacher of law, concerning what it meant to be born again?  How about Jesus deflecting the anger of those who had caught the woman in the very act of adultery...and then reaching out to the woman herself?  Here’s one more: remember the story about Jesus with the woman at the well.  He helped deliver her from misunderstanding and won her heart with love…even though he had perceived she was living in sin!  She was amazed at his compassion and wisdom.  It’s all about Love…isn’t it?

Lord Jesus, protect others from my impatience, and intolerance.  Particularly the young believer...  Help me to encourage and lead those around me with a gentle and encouraging heart and softened words.  Amen.

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