Our All Comers Bible class got off to a good start on February 22nd. Our attendance may have been less than usual with the heavy rains that moved through our area earlier that morning. We had a good showing none-the-less. I am hearing positive comments about the book we are using for this study: Consider One Another – God’s Answer to Incivility, by Aubrey Johnson. It is a good book and we need it. It will give us plenty to ponder and discuss as we try to be more like Jesus in all we do. This book gives thirteen applications of Hebrews 10:24, “And let us consider how to stir up one another to love and good works.” That should be a congregational effort; everyone trying to stir up others to love and good works. Love and good works don’t just happen. We have to “consider” them. The word “consider,” in its New Testament usage suggests taking a thoughtful view of someone or something. In the many different words employed by the New Testament writers the idea is to think about something or someone, perceive with the mind, understand fully, or to learn thoroughly. When applied to ourselves it is more difficult to practice than we think. Christians must be thoughtful people. We cannot just react. We cannot just live in the moment.
Aubrey Johnson said, “Consideration makes you kind and courteous to everyone. Around strangers, it makes you friendly and hospitable. With family members, you become more faithful and responsible. When trouble comes, consideration helps you to be understanding and forgiving. When differences arise, it makes you reasonable and merciful” (pg. 2). That covers just about everything with which we have to do. People see us as the church on Sundays, but how often, in our homes, does our profession fail on the playing field of life? With family members we may be faithful and responsible, but we know how to push a spouse’s emotional buttons, and we do it. When trouble comes because of it we are rarely understanding or forgiving. We keep the differences in marriage stirred up and have long forgotten, if we ever knew, how to be reasonable and merciful. It is easy to see how our study of Aubrey Johnson’s book would help our homes, if it could.
This is a good time for me to mention something I saw in a church bulletin recently. It’s an article by Brent Smith, titled, “Happy Valentine’s Day.” It relates to our study in All Comers class. It shows where the rubber meets the road. There is not a problem that brother Smith mentions that could not be eliminated if people could learn to “consider one another.” I will copy the article here in its entirely:
People get cranky. Husbands and wives do too. There doesn’t always have to be a good reason either. The world is heavy, the future seems bleak and the fuse is short. Some do an excellent job of hiding their “dark side” from co-workers, church members, friends and even extended family, but feel free to take it out on the spouse when they get home. Does this sound familiar? If your spouse told your friends how you acted in private, would they disbelieve because you are “just too sweet” to ever act that way! Truth is, grumpiness can turn into an argument that turns into a way of life that turns into a miserable marriage. The Bible shows a better way.
1. My bad mood doesn’t give me the right to be a jerk. Love “does not behave rudely” and “is not easily provoked” (1 Corinthians 13:5). The bad mood isn’t necessarily a sin but the way I handle it can be.
2. Hold your tongue. The immature spout off whatever they feel like saying. The mature Christian strives to bridle the tongue and thus control the whole body (James 3:2). Marriages suffer when mean and angry words fly on a regular basis.
3. Recognize your own mood and be aware of the way you are feeling. When a silly conflict arises, learn to walk away, drop it, and do all those things that make for peace (Hebrews 12:14).
4. When your spouse is upset, don’t always interpret their complaint as a personal attack. Rachel told Jacob, “give me children, or else I die” (Genesis 30:1-2). Rachel was desperate and sad and insecure. She needed a supportive husband, not an angry one. Recognize the mood; remember that you have them too and keep your cool.
5. Learn how to lift your spouse’s spirits. You can’t do this if you’re too busy taking offense. Love edifies (1 Corinthians 8:1).
6. Say “I’m sorry.” “Confess your faults to one another” certainly applies to marriages (James 5:16). Grudges hurt marriages. Just pretending you didn’t lose your cool or say those mean things doesn’t make the way you behaved go away. Own it. That will go a long way toward forgiveness and forgetting.
Slamming doors, name calling, railing accusations and punching walls; this isn’t healthy or Christian behavior. It is adolescent and sinful behavior that plagues many young marriages, and regrettably, some never mature out of it. If we acted this way at work we would get fired. If we acted this way around friends, they would get tired of us. But our spouses? Well, they just have to put up with it. For Valentine’s Day and every day give your spouse a happy marriage.
I know Valentine’s Day is gone, but hang on to these thoughts. They will help to make every day a Valentine’s Day!