Springtime in Alabama is a time of change. Flowers bloom, trees bud, sun shines, rain falls, and occasionally a surprise in the form of a late snow. This season presents quite a quandary, and not just for the weatherman. Most of us face the issue of what to wear each morning. We check the weather on television or even online, but we can never be sure if we are right.
Take, for instance, just this morning. I chose to wear a light jacket on this morning as I walked to deliver a message to my wife at the school and then to the Post Office before walking home. During that short walk, the wind began to blow across my face and through my thin jacket. I began to have negative thoughts about my decision to walk, and to question the reliability of the local weather forecast. I felt as if the wind had a mind to blow my coat away, I pulled it a little tighter around me and began walking a little faster.
When I was approximately half way between the school and the Post Office, I began to get warm. The sun decided to come out to play. Oh how good the sun’s warmth felt on the back of my neck! Oh how nice that warmth felt as I continued my trek! By the time I reached the Hadder’s Pharmacy I had to stop, not to catch my breath, but to take off my jacket. What the wind failed to do with its force, the sun accomplish with gentle warmth.
This event reminds me of a certain fable concerning a conversation turned contest between the wind and the sun. The wind in the fable did boast to the sun of its power, and did try and fail to remove a man’s coat by force. The sun however prevailed, by warming the man so that he removed his own coat.
This story is like the story of God. God, although He has the power, does not use this power to force us to do His will. God in love, being love, gently warms our hearts through the sacrifice of His Son (John 3:16-17). In another place John records, “In this the love of God was made manifest among us, that God sent his only Son into the world, so that we might live through him. In this is love, not that we have loved God but that he loved us and sent his Son to be the propitiation for our sins” (1Jo 4:9-10 – ESV).
This story also contains instruction for us. How do we influence people? Many times we try to force our opinions (correct or not) on others. We feel or think we know what is best for them and we tell them so in no uncertain terms. If we force them to listen and close our ears to their thoughts and beliefs, we can not lead them to truth, they only tighten their coats of doctrine more tightly around them and quicken their pace to get away from us. What if, what IF, we tried to gently warm them with the truth of God’s love? What if, what IF, we let God’s love flow through us and warm their hearts? What if, what IF, we let our light shine on them instead of shining the light in their eyes? Remember Jesus’ words, “In the same way, let your light shine before others, so that they may see your good works and give glory to your Father who is in heaven” (Mat 5:16- ESV). Look again to the context of John’s words in 1 John 4:
“We are from God. Whoever knows God listens to us; whoever is not from God does not listen to us. By this we know the Spirit of truth and the spirit of error. Beloved, let us love one another, for love is from God, and whoever loves has been born of God and knows God. Anyone who does not love does not know God, because God is love. In this the love of God was made manifest among us, that God sent his only Son into the world, so that we might live through him. In this is love, not that we have loved God but that he loved us and sent his Son to be the propitiation for our sins. Beloved, if God so loved us, we also ought to love one another” (1Jo 4:6-11 – ESV).
Take note of those around you, and let God work His power through your life, as you let your light shine, and act in love to those nearby.