Devotional Thought of the Day:
Be at peace among yourselves. 14 And we exhort you, brothers: warn those who are irresponsible, comfort the discouraged, help the weak, be patient with everyone. 15 See to it that no one repays evil for evil to anyone, but always pursue what is good for one another and for all. 1 Thessalonians 5:13-15
Tenderness is not a virtue of the weak; on the contrary, it spells fortitude, attentiveness, compassion, openness to the other, in short, tenderness is the daughter of love.
If you minister to anyone, whether as a “professional” (pastor/priest, ministry director, worship facilitator) or as a volunteer (elder, deacon, altar guild, bible teacher etc) I want you to go back and read those words in red again.
Go ahead. Go back and read them.
One more time, please.
Sounds like a formidable task! I am not sure which of the tasks is the most challenging! Patience is tough, warning folks is often an invitation to pain. Then there is this, stopping people from repaying evil with evil. That might mean taking the damage intended yourself.
And this letter wasn’t written to pastors, but to the church. It is how we are to minister as a whole, to each other. And these things are challenging because they require great care and caution. They can’t be done with a velvet-gloved iron fist, but with tenderness, with discernment.
And it is what our broken society needs. It is what is relegated to a class or two in seminary, and rarely do we train our elders or Sunday school teachers in it. We by-pass this critical step of being a brother, of helping people to learn to love as Christ loved. For that is what soul care is, loving our neighbor, even loving our enemy.
It is the fulfillment of the law that happens as we are transformed into the image of Jesus.
We need to be there for each other, for the broken in our communities, for those who are questioning the world and all there is in it. We need to be there when we are broken when we are hurting when we want to give up. When our souls are thirsty.
That is what the body of Christ does for each other.
Who is God calling for your to treat tenderly today? WHo will you minister to tomorrow, that needs God’s mercy and love?
Pope Francis. (2013). A Year with Pope Francis: Daily Reflections from His Writings. (A. Rossa, Ed.) (p. 274). New York; Mahwah, NJ; Toronto, ON: Paulist Press; Novalis.