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Mary Loudermilk

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“With all humility and gentleness, with patience, bearing with one another in love, making every effort to keep the unity of the Spirit in the bond of peace(Ephesians 4:2-3, New English Translation).

Humans can be exasperating at times. Other people, that is, not me. I’m levelheaded, reasonable, even-tempered. Oh, and right. My view of the situation is definitely the correct one. I won’t ask if you’ve ever thought these things; but since we are all human, you probably have. We all have different personalities, and we will respond to the same situation in different ways.

When I googled the phrase “how to get along with others,” it said there were 115,000,000 results for my query. Obviously, a lot of people want to know the answer and a lot of others feel they have the answer. I also think I have the answer, but it’s not original with me. I found it in God’s Word. I suppose I could name this, “Five Easy Steps to a Happy Relationship,” but we may not find every step easy. After all, we are human.

What are these steps I found in Ephesians 4:2-3?

STEP ONE: Humility.

I cannot respond to the other person with arrogance or the feeling I am right and you are definitely wrong. I must respect this person enough to listen to their point of view and try to understand why they feel this way. I cannot act condescending or patronizing. If they respond in angry, hateful tones, I must stay calm. That leads to the next step.

STEP TWO: Gentleness

I must be gentle with their feelings. I cannot respond with harshness or irritation. My goal is to bring peace to the situation, not a fight. I need to respond in a quiet, kindly manner. I’m not trying to grind them down and prove how wrong they are. This is my friend, my coworker, my spouse or child. I want to build them up and show them they have value.

STEP THREE: Patience

The King James Version of the Bible uses the word longsuffering. Resolving a problem may take time. That’s where the “long” comes in. I don’t give up on this person.Nor can I allow myself to become impatient or resentful. Even when they don’t seem to appreciate it, I will continue to show mercy and patience .

STEP FOUR: Bearing with Love

I will act with restraint and tolerance when dealing with this person. This does not mean I will condone a sinful act, but I will respond with mercy and forgiveness toward them. Love makes this possible.

STEP FIVE: Unity

We are all in this together, whether it’s at home, at work, or at church. We need each other to survive life’s journey. Whatever our differences, whatever the conflict, whatever the misunderstandings, we must build unity. That unity—binding together for our common good—will bring peace.

Each of these five steps builds upon the one before it. They don’t work as well in reverse order. If we begin with humility, add gentleness and patience, and bear with them in love, we will reach a place where we will have unity and peace.

Remember, none of us have the power to change another. But we can change how we respond to that person. We must treat others in the same manner we wish to be treated.

Prayer: Lord, when I feel impatience and anger toward another for whatever reason, help me to desire only good for that person. Give me the strength to respond with humility, gentleness, and patience. Help me to show love and kindness even when I do not receive it in return for this is what You have done for me.

“For the Lord disciplines the one he loves and punishes every son he receives” (Romans 12:6, Christian Standard Bible).

It was a bright, sunny Saturday morning, and a friend and I were on vacation at a beautiful spot near the shore. What better way to start our morning than to peacefully enjoy a delicious breakfast buffet. As the hostess walked us to our table, my eyes moved across the artistic display of fruits, pastries, and other breakfast dishes. How lovely.

The first two minutes were nice. But then . . .

I noticed a child pick up a pastry with his fingers and then change his mind. I thought mom would quietly correct him and put it on his plate. Instead she used her fingers to align it on the tray and walked on. Meanwhile, the hostess seated my friend and me across from two couples and their several children, who obviously had not learned to use “inside voices.” Toys mixed with food on the table and chaos reigned while the parents blithely conversed. This was not the peaceful setting we envisioned as we walked in.

As the unwilling witness to all this, I kept asking myself, “Why are the children in control and not the parents?” The missing ingredient seemed to be discipline.

I think we all agree it’s important to train children in proper behavior. Learning self-control and obedience are part of the growth process. The child may not enjoy the discipline—we didn’t either at that age. But because our parents loved us enough to correct us, we became a better person. As we matured, and with the proper training, we learned self-control. A two-year-old throwing a temper tantrum in the grocery store aisle is one thing, but a thirty-year-old throwing a tantrum looks ridiculous.

In the same way, a new Christian may not always behave correctly; but as we grow in our walk with the Lord, self-control becomes more evident in our lives. To help us along the way, the Lord sometimes finds it necessary to discipline us. He wants us to become a stable, mature part of the body of Christ. We are His child, and He corrects us because He loves us.

“My son, do not take the Lord’s discipline lightly or lose heart when you are reproved by him, for the Lord disciplines the one he loves and punishes every son he receives . . . No discipline seems enjoyable at the time, but painful. Later on, however, it yields the peaceful fruit of righteousness to those who have been trained by it” (Hebrews 12:5-6, 11, CSB).

Ultimately, God’s desire is for us to learn to discipline ourselves. After all, self-control is a fruit of the Spirit (Galatians 5:22-23). It shows we have matured as a child of God.

Prayer: Lord, Your discipline isn’t always pleasant but it’s sometimes necessary when I fail You. Help me to willingly submit to Your discipline. Help me to grow in my walk with You and to learn to discipline myself.

 

“Then He said to them, ‘Follow Me, and I will make you fishers of men’” (Matthew 4:19, New King James Version).

Have you ever wondered what it would have been like to live at the same time as Jesus? I have. Sometimes as I read the Bible, I try to imagine myself in that setting. Would I have been a believer or a skeptic? I hope I would have chosen to believe in Him.

This morning I read the passage of Jesus calling His first disciples. Simon Peter and Andrew, fishermen brothers, were casting their nets into the sea when Jesus told them, “Follow me.” They immediately left their nets behind and went with Him. A little farther along the way, Jesus found another pair of brothers, James and John, mending their nets. He called out to them as well, and they immediately left their father and hired servants behind to follow Him. Had any of the four met Him before or heard Him speak? What did they see or feel that compelled them to drop everything and go?

And then I asked myself: Would I be willing to do the same? Could I drop everything on the spur of the moment and go with Jesus?

The Choice

Not all the Lord called were willing to leave everything behind to follow Him. In Matthew 19:16-23 we read the story of a young man who desired eternal life. When questioned by the Lord, he assured Him he had kept the commandments from his youth up. Was there anything else he lacked, he asked. Then Jesus spoke these words:

“Jesus said to him, ‘If you want to be perfect, go, sell what you have and give to the poor, and you will have treasure in heaven; and come, follow Me’” (verse 21).

The young man turned away sorrowfully. Although he had asked what he lacked, he wasn’t ready for the answer. He owned many possessions and was unwilling to give it away to follow an uncertain life with Jesus. He would not take the risk. Treasure here felt more important than treasure in heaven.

To become a disciple of Jesus requires a deliberate choice. The focus of our life changes, and we willingly relinquish control to Someone Else. We see the result of the disciples’ decision, but they left their nets behind without really knowing the full impact of that decision. It impacted not only those of their day but also millions of others down through the ages. Had the rich young man determined to sacrifice everything and follow Jesus, perhaps we would now know his name along with Peter and the other disciples.

The Impact

It’s not just the original twelve disciples who faced a decision. We experience the same choice today. When Jesus invites us to “Follow Me,” it isn’t to join Him on the dusty roads of Israel. It’s to walk our modern road together and face its challenges. Are we willing to step out by faith? Are we willing to relinquish control of our lives to the One who holds the future? Our decision will affect the course of our life as well as affect those whose lives we touch. Choose wisely.

Prayer: Lord, I want to follow You with my whole heart, mind, and soul. Help me to relinquish all control of my life to You and trust You to guide me in all I do. Although I cannot see the future, I feel secure when I am walking life’s path with You. Whatever direction You lead, I know it is for my good.