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Gently

Welcome with open arms fellow believers who don’t see things the way you do. And don’t jump all over them every time they do or say something you don’t agree with—even when it seems that they are strong on opinions but weak in the faith department. Remember, they have their own history to deal with. Treat them gently. Romans 14:1 The Message

The longer we have been a Christian, the more likely we are to fall into the old trap of thinking, “they shouldn’t be doing that, or acting like they do, after all when I was their age (in birthdays or faith years) I didn’t behave that way!” (Oh really??) I will be the first to admit that I see things very differently now, than I did 40 years ago, and that’s inside and outside the confines of the church I have attended pretty much all of that time. The world has changed, the church has changed, but Jesus has not!

No one really likes change, and if you are reading this, you won’t either! It is a natural reaction to resist anything that looks different from anything we are used to. You can be 20 or 60, the same rule applies. I chose the ‘Message’ translation for the verse above, because it captures something of our nature when we see or hear young Christians behave in ways we don’t approve of. We also have to remember that ‘young in the faith’ can mean a man or woman of later years, and old habits die hard, or at least take a lot longer to die!

Paul’s advice is clear, and simple. Be gentle. Don’t criticise. Oh how we love to criticise, but we don’t call it that, we prefer to call it giving advice ‘in love’. If you are an older Christian, like me, let’s try to take care of the younger students of faith and lead them gently in the Way. We have a duty of care, and as we do, we are also reminded in Proverbs 15:1 “A soft answer turns away wrath, But a harsh word stirs up anger.”

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