Be shepherds of God’s flock that is under your care, watching over them—not because you must, but because you are willing, as God wants you to be; not pursuing dishonest gain, but eager to serve; not lording it over those entrusted to you, but being examples to the flock
1 Peter 5:2-3
Missy had just started a new school year and was excited that the band class was able to begin a new book! The band had worked hard the year before and she was proud of the accomplishments they had made. Who wouldn’t! A few days later Missy arrived home upset, having to take the old book back to school. “It’s a good thing you didn’t throw this book away!” shouted Missy. When asked what the matter was and why she was so upset, I received this angry response, “We have a new student and we have to play from this book to help bring them up to where we are!”
Ouch! Did you catch that? She was angry about having to give something up to help someone else! What came as a bigger blow when I heard this, was what it meant to me as a Christian. How many times have I refused to help someone because they “just don’t get it” or “I don’t know how to explain it, so why bother!” How many times have I been on the receiving end of that too? It is true that as Christians we can be puffed up with the knowledge and wisdom we have that we forget the very heart of the matter. It is also true that in our wisdom we tend to forget whom it was given from and put faith in ourselves when it is written, “If you need wisdom, ask our generous God, and he will give it to you. He will not rebuke you for asking. But when you ask him, be sure that your faith is in God alone.” James 1:5-6
How frustrating it is when I am tossed about from one conversation to the next, not acknowledging or seeking God for answers but leaning on my own wisdom and understanding when I’m to, “not waver, for a person with divided loyalty is as unsettled as a wave of the sea that is blown and tossed by the wind. Such people should not expect to receive anything from the Lord. Their loyalty is divided between God and the world, and they are unstable in everything they do.” James 1:5-8
In my divided loyalty, my heart gives into my will and my way, my understanding making me unstable. My heart’s desire is to be one-minded with Christ, freely giving and helping because of what has been done for me. But what should I do when someone approaches me not understanding and desiring to have a deeper discussion? It is written “Always be prepared to give an answer to everyone who asks you to give the reason for the hope that you have. But do this with gentleness and respect, keeping a clear conscience.” 1 Peter 3:15-16 When I see that my explanation is not providing understanding or I’m at a loss of words, I should humble myself and ask God to help me in my explanation or be okay in saying, “I’m not sure how to explain, please give me some time to pray and seek what is best to help you understand.” I know I have answered questions that weren’t helpful because I didn’t know how to explain them but thought I had to answer NOW because of course I knew everything…….not! When I become rushed, abrasive and rude in my response then it becomes about me and not my loyalty to God. I give the seeking person before me a false account of who God is and what He has done for me.
The Bible says in Romans 12:3, “ Because of the privilege and authority God has given me, I give each of you this warning: Don’t think you are better than you really are. Be honest in your evaluation of yourselves, measuring yourselves by the faith God has given us.” Because of this, I should want to take a lower position and help those seeking, asking and knocking, the direction in which they should go. Afterall, Jesus came down and met me where I was in my asking, seeking and knocking. I should want to willingly serve my fellow brothers and sisters in Christ wherever they are and in doing so guide them to the One who has all the answers even when if I don’t.
As we finished our conversation Missy, myself included, learned that as a Christ follower, we should be willing to give up a “new” band book to allow time helping grow a fellow band member. It’s not about what we want, but what has been done for us in Christ. By extending that helping hand as a class they lived out “Do nothing out of selfish ambition or vain conceit. Rather, in humility value others above yourselves, not looking to your own interests but each of you to the interests of the others.” Philippians 2:3-4. We were also given a heart check to know its a not a matter of if but when we will be the ones in need of lifting and to think on how we would like to be lifted. “Therefore if you have any encouragement from being united with Christ, if any comfort from his love, if any common sharing in the Spirit, if any tenderness and compassion, then make my joy complete by being like-minded, having the same love, being one in spirit and of one mind.” Philippians 2:1-2