Eternal Savior Lutheran Church

A member of the Lutheran Church - Missouri Synod

2688 North Park Drive
Lafayette, CO 80026
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December 4 – The Strategy For Working Good

“With patience a ruler may be persuaded, and a soft tongue will break a bone.”  Proverbs 25:15

Devotional Thought For The Day

Obviously two things are recommended in the pursuit of one’s agenda: patient persistence and winsome persuasion.  These are two strategies that are seldom utilized in the world today, at least in America.  When we want things, we tend to want them immediately – so we are quite intolerant of anything that strikes us as procrastination and the obstruction of “our good.”  In the face of any enduring resistance, our next tool [weapon] of resort is verbal abuse – which is often quite effective in manipulating and coercing others to give in.  If this fails we have other means available – lying, gossip, slander, financial pressure, and perhaps even violence.

Where there is disparity of power, such strategies may backfire – the “ruler” may simply swat away the disrespectful underling.  Within groups operating with democratic principles, these evil tactics seldom work – the folks can band together and return every evil upon the insistent brat in numbers.  So it is great wisdom to learn the discipline of persistence and perseverance – and this is one of the great lessons learned within the life of the church.  Here we also learn the importance of understanding the relative weight and importance of particular matters.  When we are considering the salvation of human beings, their coming to repentance and faith, surely we can grasp God’s patience and persistence with us and others.  Likewise, when we consider the importance of learning love and living in love toward others, we ought to be able to sense how patient and gentle God is with all of us.  From this we should learn how patient and gentle God desires for us to be with one another – including our children.  But especially within the church, among our brothers and sisters in Christ Jesus, no matter is more important than encouraging one another in repentance, faith, and a life of love, so all of this must be done with great patience and gentleness.  The less important the matter, the less reason there is for impatience and meanness – so all other matters should also be resolved through great patience and kindness.

The second observation, that “a soft tongue will break a bone” does not imply that our real goal is to harm others.  The point has to do with breaking down resistance to what is good, changing the stubborn and incorrigible nature of fallen sinful human beings.  While we may get our way with abusive language, we will not get at the hearts and spirits of others in this manner – and these very human concerns, and our relationships with others, are of paramount importance.  So where verbal assaults and perhaps even physical abuse may not break another person, patient and soft application of wisdom and encouragement has the best probability of “breaking” through to a person.  This is the strategy, the way of love, recommended in this proverb.

There are times when even patience and gentle persuasion do not prevail.  Rather than resorting to petulance or evil in an attempt to produce good in these circumstances, we are encouraged to remand such recalcitrance into God’s hands – and allow Him to provide correction.  As noted, He is far more practiced and perfect in utilizing patience and gentleness and working His way in human hearts.  Look at how He continues to work with you!  And nothing is so critical and important that we should contemplate descending into evil to accomplish it.  We have to be careful about this, for evil “barbs” come rather easily off our tongues when it appears that we’re not getting our way.

Prayer For The Day

Dear Lord Jesus, you experienced the impatience and verbal abuse of others during Your earthly lifetime, and you have witnessed this evil in us on many occasions.  With all of our shortcomings we are far too confident of our wisdom and goodness, and this compels sins of impatience and unkindness.  Help us to learn Your patience and gentleness that we may utilize Your wisdom in our attempts to work good.  Amen.