We don't really welcome somebody coming to us and looking down at us and saying “You should be different.”
And hello radio friends, how in the world are you? You’re doing alright? I hope everything’s going well for you and if it isn’t remember God hasn’t brought you this far to dump you now, he’s not going to leave you today, he’ll see you through, if you let him. Most of my difficulties have come because I refused to let God lead me, when I let him take control things worked out pretty well. You try that for yourself.
You and I have been talking about Romans 14:1, “Him that is weak in the faith receive ye but not to doubtful disputations or arguments.” The last day or so we’ve been thinking about what it really means when he says him that is weak in the faith. What are the areas of weakness that one would recognize? Well, first of all, assurance of salvation. Maybe he isn’t quite sure he’s saved. Prayer, maybe the person is deficient in his or her prayer life or it may be in the matter of facing temptation successfully, and instead of being successful in facing temptation the individual always goes down as a casualty in defeat. Or it may be we went on to say in the area of witnessing for Christ. We speak easily about things of which we are sure and with which we’re familiar but the average person is so unfamiliar with the matters of eternity, that he’s a little uneasy in speaking about them, you can be of help at that point. And then we also spoke about the matter of stewardship, of money and time and effort. The giving of your money and your time and your effort to God and maintaining a proper balance between the doing of everyday tasks that are yours to do and the carrying on of the work of God.
We began to see that there really isn’t any dividing line there because the Bible says, “Whatsoever you do, do it heartily as for the Lord and not for people.” Whether you’re adding up a column of figures or budging the budget or making a sale or repairing a truck or attending a desperately ill patients or performing a surgical operation or trying a law case, you’re doing it for the Lord. Years ago, we said here at the college, we want to emphasize not what people call full-time Christian service which means going into Christian work as a career, this we do, many of our young people as they graduate, go straight into seminary or to a pastor or to the mission field, but we would rather emphasize, even more the idea of full-time Christian living. So that whether you’re a housewife or a chemist or a diplomat or an attorney or a corporation executive or a ditch digger, the fact remains that wherever you are you are living 100% for the Lord Jesus Christ. Him that is weak in the faith. Yes, there is weakness in assurance, weakness in prayer life, weakness in facing temptation, weakness in witnessing, weakness in stewardship.
And then there may be a weakness in just ordinary relationships with people, how to get along with people? You’d be surprised how many people are troubled by the fact that they cannot properly relate to others. Sometimes, this is the result of childhood experiences that have been traumatic. A person who has been brought up with a horrible childhood where he or she was harassed and abused and beaten and threatened may find it difficult to adjust to folk when they come into adult life. You and I have observed that. I may be speaking to someone who is saying to himself or to herself right now, “Yeah, Cook doesn’t realize what I’m up against.” Well, of course, I suppose I don’t. You were the one that had to go through those dreadful experiences as a child. Still what are we going to do when we come up against somebody in the community of believers who bears the scars of traumatic experiences that have made it difficult or well nigh impossible for them to relate properly to others?
Some people have been so hurt by other human beings that they find it almost impossible to respond cordially to anyone, they are suspicious of every other member of the human race. Some people have been disappointed, so often that they no longer believe anybody’s promises and some people have been threatened so severely either as a child or as an adolescent, threatened so severely that now they are literally afraid of everybody and some people have grown up in such an atmosphere of coldness and lovelessness, that they find it very difficult to love anybody else. These are some of the things that we bring to the process of living, aren’t they? What do you do about that dear friend? When you come in contact with it in the community of believers, him that is weak in the faith. Here’s a weakness that shows up in societal relationships and it doesn’t respond to lecturing.
A person who’s afraid doesn’t respond positively to a lecture saying you shouldn’t be afraid. Have you ever been in deep sorrow of some sort and someone came along and said, “Don’t cry, don’t feel bad.” Did that help any? No, it didn’t, you kept on crying and kept on feeling bad. Somebody said, “Don’t be scared.” Did that keep you from being scared? No you kept on being scared. You were physically hurting for some reason or other, your body was in pain, somebody came along and said, “Well it could be worse, it’ll be over by and by.” did that keep the pain from hurting you? No. You see, we don’t respond with any kind of positive response, we don’t respond to people’s lectures, when we are emotionally involved. When there is something down deep inside of us that’s hurting or that’s scared or that’s bitter or whatever it may be, so don’t waste your time and the other person’s time by saying, “Hey you shouldn’t be scared, you’re a Christian.” Well, he’s still scared. See the idea, lecturing isn’t going to do it even lecturing with a religious basis saying because you’re a Christian you shouldn’t be scared, because you’re a Christian you shouldn’t be bitter, because you’re a Christian you shouldn’t be so deeply hurt and keep on nursing that hurt. Well, that isn’t gonna work.
You’re wasting your breath, and wasting the other person’s time. Well then brother Cook, “What do you do?” you say. Well, let’s think about it. He says, “him that is weak in the faith receive ye.” I think most of us like to be accepted the way we are. This is very important to teenagers. Have you ever had your teenagers say, “Mama don’t preach to me.” or “Old dad, don’t lecture me. Don’t preach to me.” Have you ever heard them say that? Now, why is it? Is it that they don’t want your advice? Well, that may be true, but there’s a deeper reason. They want you to accept them as they are. They want you to try to understand them the way they are, it’s very important for a teenager to be accepted as he or she really is, and to be listened to as a person of value. We grown ups are all too quick to offer our advice and counsel and give them a lecture. What the average young person is longing for is somebody to listen to him and to value him and to accept him as he really is. Now, he may be a mess, he may look like an accident going somewhere to happen, his neck may be dirty and his hair may be too long, and his finger nails need cleaning and his pants may be torn disreputable blue jeans that you wish he’d throw away and all of that. He may be unpleasant in some concerns, but he just longs for somebody to take him in as he is.
I’m not that old, that I can’t remember how teenagers feel. Now, does that mean you’re going to condone everything they do? No, of course not. Does that mean you’re never going to tell them what they ought to do? No, it doesn’t mean that either, but it does mean that where a person has difficulty in interacting with other folk, whether through hurt or fear or trauma of some sort or whatever it may be you realize that and you accept them on that basis, you accept them on the basis that, yes they are scared or yes, they are hurt, or yes, they are bitter or yes, they have been disappointed and thus are skeptical or whatever it may be. You accept them as they are. That’s that word receive. It means reach out and take him in. That’s what it means. He that’s weak in the faith, ‘proslambanesthe’, ‘lambano’ means to receive, to take and ‘pros’ means toward you. Take them toward you, take them in reach out and take them in just as they are.
Oh, that’s a big order, isn’t it? Because there’s a certain amount of human pride in all of us that just refuses to bend quite that much. It’s far easier, far easier to lecture somebody else than to love him, right? But that’s what Paul is asking me to do. Take him in as he is. Now, then what else? Well, in doing this you establish what we call rapport, that is to say the other person feels safe with you because he thinks you understand him. Then what? Then you bring that condition, whatever it may be, whether it’s fear or hurt, or bitterness or whatever, toward other people you bring that condition into the light of the word of God. And instead of saying it in terms of a didactic lecturing teaching approach, you use a question. Have you ever noticed that it says this in God’s word? And you turn to a passage. Have you ever noticed this? The old adages things taught as though we taught them not and things remembered as things forgot.
Oh, by the way… Give the person a chance to save face. Instead of directly saying, “You should be different.” Give him a chance to reflect on the truth of the Word of God that makes it possible for him even to consider being different. You see many of us cherish the condition we’re in. A lot of people who are chronically ill feel comfortable that way, they don’t particularly wanna be healed. A lot of people who are deeply hurt have clutched that hurt to their heart for so many years that they would feel lonesome without it. And so, we don’t really welcome somebody coming to us and looking down at us and saying, “You should be different.” but we might if we were given the chance, we might consider the possibility of being different in the light of God’s Word. Receive the person, love him, respect him and then bring his condition, his or her condition to the Word of God, by way of suggestion not by way of command, “Have you ever thought of this?” And so on. Good idea? Don’t argue, don’t lecture. Love, receive and suggest from the Word of God.
Dear Father, today help us to receive people in love, in Jesus’ name, Amen.
Till I meet you once again by way of radio, walk with the King today and be a blessing!
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