Now that I have four grandchildren, I have to constantly remind myself that I cannot expect the younger ones to act in the same way as the older ones. Two of the grandchildren are ten years old and two are six. Although they differ in age by only four years, their maturity level seems miles apart. The grandchildren that are ten have grown to where they comprehend things quite differently than the six-year-olds do and is often revealed in the way they act. At times I forget this and want to treat them as if they were the same age, but I cannot. So, I find myself having to interact with the younger ones with far greater patience and in a much gentler way.
Throughout the writings of the Apostle Paul, I have noticed his unique ability to recognize the spiritual age of people and then act towards them accordingly. Note Paul’s words as he writes to the church in Thessalonica, “But we were gentle among you, like a nursing mother taking care of her own children” (1 Thessalonians 2:7).
The believers in Thessalonica were much like my younger grandchildren, they needed to be treated differently, not because they were younger in age, but because they were younger spiritually. Paul loved the believers there and cared for them in the same way a mother would care for her own children. Just like a good mother nurtures her young children, Paul was caring for the believers with patience and gentleness that was rooted in his great love for them.
This led me to this thought:
Do I treat all my brothers and sisters in the Lord the same?
Do I expect those who have recently come to faith to be acting like those who have been believers a long time?
Sadly, I think I forget this sometimes and then become frustrated and impatient with those new in the faith. My expectation for them is unrealistic and can cause me to be hard on them and more severe than I ought to. Instead of nurturing them in a gentle way, I can respond in a harsh and unloving way. This needs to change.
Paul’s words and actions have inspired me to better understand the spiritual maturity of those I have relationships with and treat the younger ones with far greater patience and in a much gentler way. For me not to act in this way would mean that I have stopped growing fruit myself, and am now in need of that same gentleness from others as well.
“But the fruit of the Spirit is
love, joy, peace, patience, kindness,
goodness, faithfulness, gentleness, self-control;
against such things there is no law.”