Last week in our study on peace we talked about how important it was to seek peace with others. Not how easy, how important. Peace isn't easy. It takes effort.
So, how do we learn to be peaceable instead of posturing? Let's turn to I Thessalonians 5:12-13 to find out. "But we request of you, brethren, that you appreciate those who diligently labor among you, and have charge over you in the Lord and give you instruction, and that you esteem them very highly in love because of their work. Live in peace with one another."
The way to live peaceably, to make peace, is by appreciating and esteeming them highly. That sounds like a sappy answer at first glance, but it's in the Bible and we need to give it a shot. First, we have to appreciate those laboring among us (other believers).
But we can't notice what others are doing if we are focused on all we have to do. How often do we grumble and complain over all we have to do when others seem to be just taking things easy? Why are we asked to do everything, be on every committee, when Miss So-and-So never lifts a finger?
That's when we've got the Martha Syndrome--not Martha Stewart, Martha from the Bible in Luke 10:38-42. She's the one who whined to Jesus about her sister not doing her share. We cannot get the Martha Syndrome. Service from a self-righteous woman is not really service at all.
We do not know how much effort it took for someone else to just show up. It could have been ten times greater than all the things we had to do in our little assignments. Make peace with the fact that what you are called to do is never going to look equal to what others are called to do. Rejoice in what tasks you are given. Let God worry about what the others are doing.
That's a lot to ask. But there's more. We need to go beyond merely minding our own business. We do need to stop looking around and comparing jobs, that's true. But we also need to start looking around and noticing, appreciating, the efforts of others.
We're still looking. We're just shifting our focus from 'why aren't you doing?' to 'what are you doing?'. Is there a new mom with other little children? Appreciate the fact that she actually showed up with her teeth brushed and no baby spit on her clothes. That took great effort.
How quickly we forget the different stages of life. Is there an older lady who constantly voices her opinion? Appreciate the fact that she has many years of experience from which to draw and try to listen and learn. Remember that there are many things we still need to know. Sometimes simply being listened to is a great blessing.
Appreciation of others is possible only when we stop looking at ourselves and all we have to accomplish and we start looking at others and seeing who they really are. Our prayer should be that we would be able to look on others with the eyes of Christ, able to see them and love them as He does.
Next week we'll work on the other part, how to esteem someone. This shift in focus is enough to accomplish in one week.
So, who are you looking at? More importantly, how are you looking at them?