Friday, November 25, 2016
Be Patient with People
“Now we exhort you, brethren, warn them that are unruly, comfort the feebleminded, support the weak, be patient toward all men.” 1 Thessalonians 5:14
Whether interacting with unsaved people, children, or people who are wrong on certain doctrines, we need to have patience with them. There was also a time when we didn’t know the things we know now.
When out soul winning, expect people to give some wrong answers, and remain calm and tactful when they do. Don’t take so much pride in your biblical knowledge that you become caustic when people don’t understand or even disagree with you.
You might be thinking--but Pastor, when you get behind the pulpit, you can be pretty abrasive. Well, preaching in church is not soul winning. My sermons are geared toward believers, and often as Christians we need a good swift kick in the pants to wake us up.
That said, when I am behind the pulpit, I am preaching about subjects in general to a group of people. Unless there is a serious problem going on in the church, I try not to directly preach against anyone in the congregation. I have a personal rule that I learned from my old pastor: I do not add or subtract from my sermon because of who walks through the door.
For example, a man with long hair might walk in on the day I’m planning to preach on that sin, and I’ll still preach on it. If he instead shows up on a day that I am preaching on a different topic, I won’t throw in a dig about hair length. If my pre-planned sermon ends up applying to someone in the audience, I try to be extra friendly and nice to them after the service. That way they realize I wasn’t singling them out or trying to preach them out the door. I’m thankful for everyone who shows up, and having people in church who don’t look like life-long Baptists shows that our church is growing and reaching people.
The exception to this laid-back approach is when someone comes in trying to teach false doctrine. People with sinister motives will be kicked out of church, but most people come here because they like our church and want to be here. A lot of people are new to church or perhaps have been in the wrong kind of church for decades, and it takes them a while to learn more of what the Bible actually teaches.
When visitors don’t get saved after I present the gospel to them, I tell them I’m glad they are here and I hope to see them again. A lot of people get saved the first time they hear It, which is why door to door soul winning works, but others might need to come to church a few times or even for a few months before they fully understand the gospel. Don’t jump to conclusions and give up on visitors who have “rejected the gospel.” There are always those that need to hear it more than once.
As parents, we need to be patient with our children and remember what we were like at their age. Don’t get me wrong, we do need to be strict with them to prevent them from going into sin, but your teenager can’t be expected to have the maturity and wisdom that you have in your thirties or forties. Stick to your guns, but don't have unreasonable expectations.
A perfect example of being patient with people who are behind us spiritually is found in Acts Chapter 18. Apollos was a guy whose heart was in the right place, but he didn’t know anything about Jesus and the death, burial, and resurrection. Priscilla and Aquila wrote letters telling people to receive him. They realized he just needed time to learn.
We need to follow the example of Priscilla and Aquila and have patience with those who are at an earlier stage than us in their learning. Remember that you catch more flies with honey. If someone ends up being pushed away, let it be because of our position, not because of our disposition.
Here is the sermon on Patience When Teaching.