Loving Open-Hearted

You have a chance then to share with somebody’s need and burden and heartache by having asked the second question of concern.

Scripture: Romans 14:17-19


And hello again, radio friends. How in the world are you? Are you doing all right? Well, I trust everything is okay at your house and that you’re praising the Lord. And always remember, if you strike a day where things are going wrong, don’t give up, don’t fold up, don’t cave in, don’t retire into self-pity or complaint instead look up and say “Lord Jesus, see me through,” and He will. God wants you to be a victor, not a victim. “Thanks be unto God which always causeth us to triumph in Christ.” Not just sometimes, but always, you can be a victor no matter what the circumstances.

A friend of mine said to his interrogator one day in a prison somewhere behind the iron curtain. Some man had been beating him and harassing him and subjecting him to all sorts of unspeakable cruelty and indignity. And this friend said, “You are trying to make me hate you but I choose, instead, in Jesus’ name, to love you.” The man recoiled as though he’d been struck and went away and later came under the cover of darkness and asked to pray to receive that same Christ. You don’t have to be a victim no matter what the circumstances, bless God.

You can triumph and I trust that will be your experience this very day. Look with me at Romans 14 verse 19. “Let us therefore follow after the things which make for peace, and things wherewith one may edify another.” The old Dr. Pettingill used to say, “Whenever you see a ‘therefore’ you have to look back and see what the ‘therefore’ is there for.” And so he says, “The kingdom of God is not meat and drink,” what you do to be officially religious, “but righteousness and peace and joy in the Holy Ghost. For he that in these things,” in righteousness, peace and joy, “serveth Christ is acceptable to God and approved of men.”

Now, because that’s true, he said, “Let’s follow after the things which make for peace, and things wherewith one may edify another.” The outgrowth of serving Christ in your own life, first of all, is the growing of an atmosphere of peace between people and the growing of an atmosphere of building others up. When I say that, there flashes into my mind all of the variables in human relationships that are present in almost any situation whether it be a church or some other organization or whatever, there are so many different things some of which are extremely irritating from time to time, isn’t that true?

Are you always pleased with what happens in the business meeting of your church? No, you’re not. Are you always pleased with who gets appointed on the committee? No, you’re not. You were hoping to be made chairman and they take some dear clod who not only doesn’t know anything but doesn’t suspect anything, and make him or her the chairman of the committee and you feel bad. Oh, yeah.

There are a lot of variable circumstances which impinge upon this whole matter that Paul is talking about. But he says my first duty is to serve like a slave for Jesus. Serve Him, my Blessed Lord, as any human slave would serve his master; completely subservient to his wishes, completely dependent upon his authority, and completely thorough in what I do so as to finish the job and hoping for his approbation. That is my first job. If then I do that, then what? Then, he says, you can start working for things. This word follow after is a Greek verve “dioko,” “pursue” like a hunter pursues his quarry or like a soldier pursues an opposing army to make a captive. That’s “pursue.”

“Let us follow after the things which make for peace.” There is a creative ministry that you and I may engage in. The result of which is peace. Now, what about that? Let’s think about that for a moment, shall we? My first duty is to serve the Lord Jesus Christ as any human slave would serve his master. Complete obedience. If I do that as a result, then I can begin working on a relationship with people around me.

And he said, “Let’s pursue, let’s work on, the things that make for peace.” Now there are two ways, at least two, to get at any subject. One is abrasive and the other is non-offensive. When I first came to the college over 20 years ago now, I sought out my good friend Ben Weiss out in Los Angeles and I said, “Ben, you’ve been an educator all your life. Give me some good ideas.” Well, he said, “I’ve learned that oftentimes, you’ll have people,” at least he said “I had people,” said Ben Weiss, “in my faculty in Los Angeles who were critics of mine and who could be counted on never to agree with anything I wanted not because it was wrong but because if I wanted it, they didn’t.”

And he said, “I learned that when some directive came from the board of education from upstairs, as we called it,” Mr. Weiss said, “when some directive came from upstairs, I learned to go to people who were my critics on the faculty of that Los Angeles high school and I would say, ‘Here’s something that just came down from upstairs. I’m not sure about it. Tell me what you think of it.’” And he said, “That simple procedure of asking for their opinion very frequently made the difference between acceptance or rejection in the faculty meeting that might follow a little later on.” Good idea, wouldn’t you say?

Ben Weiss certainly used it well because people still today think of him with great affection and respect as having been one of the great educators of that area and of that time. “What is your opinion?” Great four words that you and I need to learn. The things that make for peace. There is a way to talk with people without being abrasive. Some people, it must be admitted seemed to have been born in the accusative case. Whatever they say is calculated to have a little sandpapery edge on it, isn’t it true?

Do you know somebody who always prefaces his or her remarks with something like this, “Now, I know you’re not going to like this but I’m going to tell it to you for your own good.” Oh, that blesses you, doesn’t it? I don’t think so. Some people seem to be abrasive by nature. Well, now, you and I don’t have to be. We can cultivate a loving tone of voice. You don’t have to have gravel in your voice when you speak to people. You’re can have a loving tone of voice. You’re going to work on that. You can cultivate, remember, he says “Let’s work on this.”

This is something that you and I can do as a result of serving Christ, right? So you can work on a loving tone of voice. Even the way you answer the phone can be non-abrasive and the way you say “Good morning,” and the way you speak with people, and the way you ask questions. Cultivate a loving approach to people, an acceptive approach to people. Can you tell when somebody is merely tolerating you? Of course, you can. Has it ever occurred to you that other people sense the same thing in you and me, in our approaches to them? Of course, they do.

And so a loving approach and an acceptive approach to people and then recognize the fact that they have thoughts and ideas and convictions of their own. And so you use those magic words “What is your opinion?” “What do you think?” “What do you think of this?” “Have you ever thought of that?”

Ask questions rather than making direct statements. And if you do make a statement, preface it by the phrase “It seems to me” or “in my opinion.” “It would seem” use this subjunctive “That’s so and so.” Why do you do this? You do it because you are working on a peaceful relationship with other people. Work on it.

You recognize them as being people of some worth. Remember their name. Pronounce it properly. Notice them when they’re going past you in the hall or around the street. Notice people and smile at them. Remember as Dr. Narramore says that the second question proves whether or not you’re interested. “How are you?” “Not so well.” “I’m sorry.” You go on. That doesn’t prove that you care. But if you stop and turn around and say, “I’m sorry. What seems to be the problem?” Then they can tell you that, to use Dr. Narramore’s illustration, the lady can tell you that her mother was pushed down the cellar stairs by her father and her mother’s hip was broken in the ensuing fall and that she’s in the hospital and she’s all upset and doesn’t feel good about the whole bit.

And you have a chance then to share with somebody’s need and burden and heartache by having asked the second question of concern. “Let’s follow,” said he, “the things that make for peace.” You don’t have to come in swinging, as we say. You don’t have come in with your fists up. You don’t have to come in with a pejorative statement, an accusing statement or a critical mind even. If you approach a person or a situation critically, that attitude is sure to come out in your speech regardless of how well you try to hide it.

So an open heart and an open mind and an accepting attitude and a loving heart and questions instead of statements and remembering that the other person is a person of immense value to God. The person you’re talking with may not be, in your opinion, as smart as you are as learned or as well-trained or is able. But that person you’re talking is as valuable to God as you are and so you accept that person as being valuable. And with all of this, you’re working for peace. When you have two opposing points of view in a meeting, draw back and see what it is that people do agree on. This has been of great help to me. If you have a committee meeting where people are disagreeing, drawback for a moment and see what people do agree on. You’ll find that that becomes the basis for further agreement. All of this, by way of saying, “Let’s work on the things that make for peace. Work at it. Don’t just let it drag on.”

Dear Father today, help us to work for peace through Jesus Christ our Lord, Amen.

Till I meet you once again by way of radio, walk with the King today and be a blessing!

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