Thursday, May 4, 2017
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Maybe you’re like me; you're one of those people who lives in a climate where there are four seasons, where the fall and spring are spectacularly beautiful and where winter is really winter, and summer is really summer. There’s probably one change of seasons that is probably anticipated by you more than any other-the end of winter! I’ve always lived with four seasons, and I like them all. I just think one of them lasts a month or two too long. That’s why I was so excited during a February ministry trip to South Carolina. I was living up north at the time, and so we had this serious winter. Now February is still winter a little while longer, but in South Carolina, the trees were starting to bloom! Not only were the flowers out on the trees, the shorts were even out on the humans! I don’t remember seeing dogwood blooming in February! That was early even for the mid-South, but there had been a string of days in the 70’s with temperatures that were still mild at night. So those little flowers said to themselves, "Hey, it’s warm, guys! I guess it’s time to bloom! You think they might have said that?
I’m Ron Hutchcraft and I want to have A Word With You today about "Making It Spring."
Now it happens to trees and flowers; the warmth brings out the beauty. It happens to people, too. There are people who are ready to bloom, ready to blossom if someone would only provide a warm climate for them-maybe you.
There’s a wonderful example here in our word for today from the Word of God beginning in Acts 9:26, "When Saul came to Jerusalem, he tried to join the disciples, but they were afraid of him, not believing that he really was a disciple." Remember, Saul had been a persecutor of Christians. He’s come to Christ now, but they’re having a hard time believing that. So, he's greeted by winter, you might say! It's cold!
Then the Bible says, "But Barnabas" (now you might remember his name means son of encouragement) "took him and brought him to the apostles. He told them how Saul on his journey had seen the Lord and that the Lord had spoken to him, and how in Damascus he had preached fearlessly in the name of Jesus." All of a sudden, here’s a warm climate; a touch of spring for Saul! It goes on to say, "So Saul stayed with them and moved about freely and spoke boldly in the name of the Lord."
Saul is at a critical point in his new faith. He’s ready to blossom into leadership, but he ran into some wintry responses. Everything in his life in the future at that point seemed to depend on someone who would provide a climate of warmth and encouragement; someone who believed in him. Barnabas surrounded this young believer with that kind of warmth, and something beautiful blossomed; someone beautiful blossomed!
There are people in your life who need that same kind of warm environment right now. It might be your own child, or friend or coworker, someone who is one of the difficult people in your life. It’s amazing the difference a little warmth can make in bringing out the beauty in a person!
The problem is we might be offering too much cold and not enough warm. If that person feels condemned, or criticized, or attacked, well don’t expect any beauty to emerge. Maybe you’ve made it feel like winter for them and the cold just makes you want to withdraw or be defensive or fight back. And one of the frustrating facts about our relationships is this: the less lovable a person is acting, the more they need your love. Yes, hard, difficult people are often folks who have experienced a lot of winter from people and some of it may be their own fault. But more cold is not going to help them blossom into something better. No, only warmth will do that.
How about signing up for the Barnabas Club? Make up your mind that you’re going to ask God for the grace to regularly affirm that person, to tell them their worth and tell them the beautiful things you see in them. Make them feel safe when they’re with you. Be the one person who expects the best of them, not the worst.
Actually, that’s how Jesus treats us, isn’t it? And that kind of love brings out the best in us. Will you love the people around you as Jesus has loved you? They’ll never blossom as long as it feels like winter. But if they get from you the warmth of love and encouragement, you can help bring out the beauty inside them. You can be the one who makes it spring for someone!