Paul is packing a lot of wisdom into these last few verses. We should not rush past the message that might be screaming at us today. For me, the message was to be patient with people! I don’t know about you, but I can be very impatient when people don’t act in the way I expect. This may be exactly the message I need to hear today.
Lazy, timid, and weak people are also featured here. Yet, bottom line, Paul says we are called to be patient with “everyone,” not just the lazy, timid, and weak. Do you resonate with one of these distinctions of the human condition?
Paul is calling his readers to be patient with everyone. That can be hard, can’t it? What about the slow driver in your lane or the lady with multiple screaming children ahead of you in the grocery line? What sort of things set you off and make you impatient? We need to be aware of those things and then shut them down. Paul said, “Be patient with everyone.”
That goes both ways then, too. Others hearing Paul’s words would need to be patient with us. Now that’s a relief. We are certainly not perfect, and often our failings hurt other people or adversely affect them in some way. Maybe you can recall a time when you let somebody down when they were expecting you. I think of being late to a zoom meeting because I either forget, misjudged time, or wasn’t able to finish up a prior meeting in a timely fashion. I appreciate when others are patient with me.
In our day and age, we see a lot more need for tolerance. It seems like every time I turn around there is someone whose nose is out of joint because of somebody else’s mistreatment of them. In many of these cases, the individual had every right to feel less than patient. But we are called to be patient. And loving. Yet, we all fall short. Sometimes, taking a few deep breaths, yawning, and stretching is what will help us do a “reset” and get our inpatient, frustrated mood restored.
Take some time today to think through situations when others have given you some grace by being patient, and alternatively, when you have been the one being patient.
Did you wonder why Paul chose to call out help for the lazy, timid, and weak? It would seem there are many other “labels of behavior” that also need some TLC. But for these, Paul wants us to warn the lazy, encourage the timid, and care for the weak. I see that as a loving response. As Christians, we want to be recognized for our Christ-like, loving behavior.
When we tread in unfamiliar waters trying to be patient with other people, or helping those as Paul suggests, we may need to call on God’s help. For example, if we’re caring for one of the lazy ones, we could ask something like, “Lord, I know you want me to be patient with this person who is being a total slug, doing absolutely nothing, so please give me the words I need to warn them and show them a better way.” We can look to Jesus’ example, too, to follow in terms of compassion.
Take some time today to think about people around you who may fall into these categories. Let Paul’s words empower you to ask God how you can best intervene. If you’re the one feeling lazy, timid, or weak, ask God to bring someone into your life to encourage you.
Let’s pray … Lord, I need your help in being patient with those who just don’t seem to get it. They have so much to offer and yet they do nothing. Use me to come beside them and give them the encouragement they need. Open their hearts to be willing to accept the words you give me. Thank you that I can help reach others who need a word from you. In Jesus’ name. Amen.