And we urge you, brothers, warn those who are idle, encourage the timid, help the weak, be patient with everyone (1 Thessalonians 5:14 NIV).
Friend to Friend
As I sat on my screened-in porch early one morning, I was taken aback with the beauty surrounding me. I held a steamy cup of coffee in my hand and placed my open, well-worn Bible in my lap. As if on cue, as had been our routine for the past several weeks, a visitor hopped from the shrubbery and onto the night-cooled patio. “Good morning, Peter,” I cooed to the little brown bunny. “How are you today?” I just love bunnies, I mused.
Just as I was enjoying watching my furry friend, he hopped over to a flowerpot, stood up on his hind legs, and yanked a rather large stem from a plant.
“Good grief,” I moaned. “Stop that!” Bounding down the steps, I came face-to-face with the wascally wabbit. “Stop eating my flowers,” I warned. “Get out of here. Shooo.”
Back on the porch, I grabbed my lukewarm coffee and placed my Bible back in my lap. It wasn’t long before a dainty hummingbird buzzed up to the hummingbird feeder just outside the screen. I watched in amazement as its wings fluttered and it hovered in mid-air. Iridescent colors of green and blue glistened in the sun. I just love hummingbirds, I whispered.
No sooner had the thought entered my head than a second hummingbird dive-bombed the first. Quickly a fight ensued. Beak to beak, they fought over the food. “Guys, stop it,” I pleaded as if they cared. “There are six perches and enough nectar for everybody! Good grief!”
Taking a sip from my now cold coffee, I tried once again to concentrate on my open Bible. But in the corner of my mind, I saw our heron approaching. A beautiful heron lives on our lake and occasionally he passes our way. I marveled at his long legs pointing behind him and his slender beak leading the way. With exaggerated movements, he slowly flapped his magnificent blue-gray wings and glided before me. But then, like a Boeing 747 with a leak in the fuselage, a stream of poop fell from the bird and made a trail in the yard.
“Good grief,” I moaned for the third time in one day.
Back to the Bible. As I tried to concentrate, God began speaking to my heart about what I had seen. Are you willing to take the good with the bad? He seemed to say.
You love bunnies and they eat your plants. You love hummingbirds but they constantly fight. You love the heron, but he makes a mess in your yard. Are you willing to take the good with the bad?
“Well, yes” I whispered to God. “I am willing to take the good with the bad. I love your creatures!”
What about people? He seemed to continue. If you are willing to take the good with the bad with mere animals, are you willing to take the good with the bad in people created in My image?
And then, as God so often does in my life, He left me to think about it.
Paul’s words popped in my head: “And we urge you, brothers, warn those who are idle, encourage the timid, help the weak, be patient with everyone” (1 Thessalonians 5:14 NIV).
I began to think about people in my life whom I have rejected or relationships that I have walked away from because of annoying behavior or emotional messiness. It seems I was willing to take the good with the bad with God’s creation—but when it came to people created in God’s image…not so much.
God always takes the good with the bad.
- Abraham believed God, but he also made some terrible mistakes, namely Hagar.
- David was a man after God’s own heart, but he committed murder and adultery.
- Jacob was the father of the twelve tribes of Israel, but he was also a deceiver.
- Martha was hospitable, but she was also bossy.
- Andrew was loving, but he was also loud (he wasn’t called a son of thunder for nothing).
- Thomas was dutiful, but he was also doubtful.
And then there’s the woman I look at in the mirror every morning. I’m not going to list my annoying qualities but let me tell you they are many. And yet, God takes the good with the bad. He loves me even when I make a mess.
So, here’s the question for us today. Are we willing to take the good with the bad? Are we willing to overlook the annoying behavior of others and embrace their positive qualities instead? I’m going to leave you to think about it like God left me to think about it that morning.
Heavenly Father, all I can say today is HELP! Help me be patient, loving, and kind. Help me to focus on the positives of others and shrug off the negatives. And Lord, help others do the same with me!
In Jesus’ Name, Amen.
Now It’s Your Turn
During this holiday season, as you gather with family and friends, if you are committed to overlook the negative and embrace the positive, leave a comment and say, “I’m in!”
Think through your favorite Bible stories and recall how God in the Old Testament and Jesus in the New Testament took the good with the bad in people.
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