Wednesday, February 6, 2019

When Serving is Hard

Now we who are strong ought to bear the weaknesses of those without strength and not just please ourselves. Each of us is to please his neighbor for his good, to his edification. For even Christ did not please Himself; but as it is written, “The reproaches of those who reproached You fell on Me.  Romans 15:1-3

God has really called us to a simple task...It is simply to serve each other in love.  It can be a simple task, yet the thing that seems to intervene in our service to others is ourselves.  We are what gets in the way of our serving others in obedience to God.  We don’t want to give the time to serve.  We don’t want to give the money to help.  And often, we just don’t want to deal with people. It is not like He did not expect this to be a problem.  Many scriptures speak of the attitude that must be present for us to serve others in an attitude of selflessness.
Serving others not only requires the right attitude, it requires us to develop some patience.  To"bear the weaknesses"does not mean to solve their problems.  God never made us responsible for another man's burden.  To "bear" in this passage is a word that means to endure patiently.
The cry here is for us not to demand the spiritual perfection of others that we have not achieved ourselves...OR even to demand what we HAVE achieved.  God is dealing with every individual at their personal pace of growth. The fact that someone does not agree or does not act properly does not mean they are less than you.  It merely displays a place that may need temporary indulgence and understanding until God changes them…or you.   When someone says, “that is just the way I am", they may be sharing a place of weakness rather than personality. 
A Word about PorcupinesRealize that accepting an individual is foundational to ministry to them.  If doesn’t feel like you accept them, chances are that you are not going to be able to have an impact on their life.  Accepting a person – or loving a person – doesn’t mean you have to accept/love their behaviors or decisions.  I always think of this as loving them in Christ.  I personally translate this to mean a couple of different things:
·      I try to love them as Christ loves us – with mercy and grace.  This is the way I want to be loved by Christ and others.  
·      I can ONLY love them with the strength of Christ.  In my humanness I cannot love like He loves us, but I can through Jesus Christ!  
We all have those people in our lives.  The hard to tolerate, hard to love people.  They are like porcupines because if you get to close, you may get stuck.  Some people deal with the hard to love people by simply just ignoring them or shutting them out of their life altogether.  But this is not what the Lord has called us to do. He expects us to show them love because if we won’t, then who will?  If God’s people will not be the hands and feet – and heart of Jesus, then no one will. If we make them feel like Lepers and outcasts, they will shut us out and God cannot work through us.  
Set self aside, grow some patience and love the lepers in your life.  You don’t know what seeds you are planting or how God is touching their hearts.  He uses us to change people’s lives and we may not even be aware.  One of those hard to love people may just be a kind word away from this possibility - Can change a leper’s spots… And melt a heart of stone.

Scripture to Claim:Accept one another…Just as Christ also accepted us to the glory of God.   Romans 15:7

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