My dear brothers and sisters, take note of this: Everyone should be quick to listen, slow to speak and slow to become angry.
One of the people I admire most for their patience was my grandfather. I was lucky to have him as part of my life well into my twenties and in all that time, I don't recall ever seeing him get angry. For me he was almost a living embodiment of this scripture. He was a man of few words, always had time to sit with his grandkids and listen and had the patience of a saint. This is why it came as such a shock to me when my own father told me a couple of stories from his own childhood in which my grandfather got very angry with my dad and his brother. I'll keep the details of that story to myself, but I had a hard time believing those stories because the grandfather I knew just didn't fit those stories. Wouldn't it be great if the church had that same kind of credibility. Obviously much has been brought to light recently which has significantly damaged the image of the church and of our pastors and clergy in particular. The world at large doesn't seem to have a lot of time for the church at the moment, but what reason have we given them to trust us? Have we taken time to really listen and understand or are we sometimes too quick to judge and condemn? Do we consider carefully the words we speak when we are confronted with different opinions or do we too easily and happily lash out with out words intended to hurt those who disagree with us? Perhaps if we took more time to show the love, care, patience and compassion that we so easily talk about, the world around us might take the church, and our message, more seriously?
Lord Jesus, when we hear in your word your judgement against the corrupt priests of the Old Testament and see you addressing the hypocrisy of the pharisees when you walked this earth, it becomes clear that we have always been people prone to say one thing and do another. Lord, help me to live a life of integrity which will allow others to see more of what you call your people to be. Make my life something that helps people re-engage with you and your church and to find their hope and salvation in you. Amen
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