Over the next several weeks, we will be sharing devotions based on the United Methodist membership vows, where we pledge to support the church with our prayers, presence, gifts, service, and witness. This week’s focus is SERVICE, with a particular emphasis on families. We invite you to share these as a family and to read them together with children.
11 So continue encouraging each other and building each other up, just like you are doing already.
12 Brothers and sisters, we ask you to respect those who are working with you, leading you, and instructing you. 13 Think of them highly with love because of their work. Live in peace with each other. 14 Brothers and sisters, we urge you to warn those who are disorderly. Comfort the discouraged. Help the weak. Be patient with everyone. 15 Make sure no one repays a wrong with a wrong, but always pursue the good for each other and everyone else. 16 Rejoice always. 17 Pray continually. 18 Give thanks in every situation because this is God’s will for you in Christ Jesus.
If you have siblings, a first reading of this scripture may remind you of your brother(s) or sister(s). How many times might we hear a couple of kids arguing and then the parent says, “Stop bugging your sister/brother!” I grew up in a family of seven, so some sibling was often fighting or harassing another, somewhere. In reality, St. Paul was talking to the community of believers in Thessalonica. Therefore, “brothers and sisters” refers to those in the community of believers. But either way, for all kinds of families, Paul’s advice works!
When we think of our brothers and sisters, do we some days feel bothered by their very presence? Let this reading be a reminder for our families of all kinds to be good to one another. This is a real service to our families. Encourage and find patience with others, instead of just putting them down. We could all stand to do this a little more! Statistics from various sources say that it takes at least five positive comments to overcome just one bad one. So how can you encourage someone today, especially someone who is younger than you?
One current way you can encourage a young person next week is through helping at VBS! (There is still time to volunteer the evenings of July 18-21 from 6:00-8:00 pm – to sign up or register your children visit our VBS page )
My other suggestion comes from working with kids and families for more than thirty years. This is to learn to apologize really well! So often I have seen or heard how well people hold onto their hurt feelings for years. Even if we still disagree, or we think we have done nothing wrong, we can still be sorry when someone’s feelings were hurt. We can be civil and genuine and still listen. Because grudges, when held onto, tend to find a life of their own! Like Paul says, “always pursue the good.” When we learn to apologize and to forgive, it changes us for the good. Perhaps you have heard it said, forgiveness is the gift that you give yourself.
by Barbara Carlson
For Pondering & Prayer
With any siblings, the simplest kind of service to anyone is to provide encouragement. There is also the well-practiced art of apologizing and forgiving one another. These graces God has already given to us. What can you do to encourage someone today? How can you help to heal the hurt of another “brother or sister”?
Prayer: Gracious God, let me always learn to appreciate a kind word for another. Help me to see you in all people. When I have hurt someone, let me be slow to anger and quick to forgiveness. Let me always remember the grace that you have given me. Amen.