|Good morning everyone,|
Our theme for this month: “Great thoughts from great Christians”
Our Bible verse for today: “Above all, maintain constant love for one another, since love covers over a multitude of sins.” 1 Peter 4:8 (CSB)
Our thought for today: “Just love each other”
All this month we’ve been considering “Great thoughts from great Christians” and we’ve based it upon the practice encouraged by Leighton Ford, “I surround myself with the thoughts of those who have thought much about God.” The fact is that we can learn much from those who have spent years thinking about God; people who have grown deep in their faith, and then who live their faith in practical ways that make a real difference in their own lives and in the lives of others.
Not all great Christians are famous. Some are just regular everyday people. My pastor, Oren Teel, was one of those. He was the one who discipled me and taught me how to be a pastor. Oren spent over fifty years as the pastor of small churches. He never wrote a book; he was never the featured speaker at a big conference; and he was not well-known outside of his small circle of influence. But he was a great Christian, and he did have some profound insights.
One of the best lessons he ever taught me, one which I have tried to practice for more than twenty-five years as a pastor, was advice he gave to me shortly before I went off to be the pastor of my first church. He said, “Jim, just love your people. A congregation will forgive a lot if they know you love them. They will tolerate a poor sermon; they will forgive your bad decisions; they will even put up with your ugly ties – if they know that you love them.”
And he was right. As I think back over two and a half decades as a pastor, in three different churches, I have to admit that I did preach a few bad sermons; and I did make some dumb decisions; and I’ve certainly worn my share of ugly ties; not to mention lots of other failures. But the people have always been kind, gracious, and forgiving, and I believe it has been because they know I love them. Despite my flaws and numerous shortcomings, they know I love them, and that seems to have made the difference.
This is what Peter was teaching us in 1 Peter 4:8 and it’s a lesson that applies not just to pastors and congregations, but to all of us, and in all of life. Your family, friends, neighbors, co-workers, and your church family, will forgive a lot if they just know that you love them. As Peter said, “Love covers over a multitude of sins”.
I encourage you to concentrate on just loving people. Loving people doesn’t excuse us from trying hard and doing our best (my love for our congregation doesn’t excuse me from doing my best to preach a good sermon, or to make smart decisions, or to use better fashion-sense when selecting ties), but love is the most important thing we can do for each other, and doing so will make-up for a lot.
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