Read: Galatians 6:1-5
“We then that are strong ought to bear the infirmities of the weak, and not to please ourselves. Let every one of us please his neighbour for his good to edification. For even Christ pleased not himself: but, as it is written, The reproaches of them that reproached thee fell on me.”
During the height of the season, a good nursery resembles a forest. Packed from one end to the other with needles and foliage, it’s a good place to find some shade as well as a new tree for the front yard. Unfortunately, this woodland effect can occasionally lead to difficulties.
We had spent the afternoon tagging, watering, and shifting a fresh shipment of trees and shrubs. The task had required frequent walks through the masses of plant material during one of which, our assistant manager had managed to lose her radio. In order to find it, three of us spread out around the perimeter of the receiving area where we listened for her to call my name from another staff member’s walkie-talkie. Each time she called for me, we’d move closer to the sound emanating from the missing device.
It wasn’t long before we discovered that our manager hadn’t told anyone else that we had lost a radio or what we planned to do in order to find it.
After hearing my name called an inordinate number of times, one of the stock boys answered for me – doing a poor imitation of my voice in the process. His reply was followed by an irritated announcement from one of the cashiers that the radio our manager was calling from was working just fine and could be heard quite clearly by everyone on shift.
We all smiled at each other as the final reply helped us zero in on the missing radio, which had caught on a branch at the bottom of a potted potentilla.
Just as our staff grew frustrated with the continual calls from the nursery, many times Christians grow tired of listening to (or watching) each other’s oft repeated struggles with sin. We recognize the problem, but without any background information, are in a poor position to judge whether our brothers and sisters are winning the victory or failing miserably. The result is that the success of our attempts to help resolve the problem are often hit and miss, sometimes prolonging and exacerbating the struggle rather than helping to relieve the burden.
Only when we take time to understand the struggles of others will we be assured of providing the type of loving support to which the Bible calls us. Instead of growing irritated with the repeated frustrations of our brothers, we ought to bear with them, supporting them through prayer and a listening ear!
Challenge: This week, take the time to intentionally listen to others as they share their struggles and frustrations with you. You may be surprised at how much difference can be made when you’re willing to lend a sympathetic ear!