My buddy, Jim Parker, wouldn’t want me to say this, but he is one of the smartest individuals I know. He will be quick to tell you that he didn’t get past the 9th grade, but when it come to mechanical aptitude, there are not too many people who can measure up to Jim’s capabilities. He is a regular motor-head, who can build, troubleshoot, fix and fabricate.
Christians are all members of the body of Christ and there are times that Jim works very effectively as the hands, and there are other times he works effectively as the mouth…whether it be preaching an evangelistic message or teaching someone who is somewhat inept, how to fix their car. By the way, the inept one would be me.
One day Jim was patiently teaching me how to replace an alternator in my daughter’s 91 Toyota Truck. As I was under the car attempting to properly position the alternator, in my frustration I was tempted to reinstate an old habit of cussing…
So, as I was laying on the ground reaffirming my respect for mechanics, what seemed like a basketball size chunk of grease, fell into my eyehole. Okay, so I exaggerate. It was tiny, but it made for just the perfect amount of discomfort to feel gigantic. And interestingly, that little bit of grease helped me relearn an important lesson-
It is easy to think we are exercising faith when we are going through a season of relative ease and comfort. But it’s not so easy when we are going through a season of difficulty and discomfort.
The moment that grease hit my eye, I couldn’t focus on what I was doing any longer. I didn’t care about what I was doing, and I was no longer engaged in the task at hand. I just wanted that grease the heck out of my eye!
In a weird way, it reminded me of my need to be both compassionate and empathetic when people I minister to, fail to keep perspective and begin to go into a bit of panic mode.
Matthew 8:15 says, “We who are strong ought to bear with the failings of the weak and not to please ourselves.”
Sometimes when I am going through a season of relative strength in my life and things are going well, I am confident, perhaps even effectively casting down doubt and discouragement through prayer. When I am going through a season like that, there are times that I don’t want people to rain on my parade…times I don’t want to hear their sob stories…times I might even be tempted to say to someone expressing their fear and difficulty, ”Hey, just quit your sniveling and get over it. Where’s your faith?” Gratefully, the scripture I have stored away within me, coupled with the conviction of the Holy Spirit, govern my thoughts before they become words…because I have been called to build people up, not tear them down.
Also worth mentioning, I am not always going through a season of strength in my life. Sometimes I need a brother to bear with my fear and discouragement and not please himself.
In the gospels, after calming a storm as well as his unsettled disciples, Jesus confronted them with the question, “Where is your faith?” I think that Jesus, without doubt, could be confrontational, because his credibility was rooted in the fact that the disciples were convinced of his compassion.
That’s how I think we should aspire to be. I think there are times that necessitate that we be confrontational, but that confrontation needs to be measured out within the context of compassion. Is that not how the Lord has treated us?