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Thursday, January 6, 2011

Running Roughshod

6-7Don't run roughshod over the concerns of your brothers and sisters. Their concerns are God's concerns, and he will take care of them. We've warned you about this before. God hasn't invited us into a disorderly, unkempt life but into something holy and beautiful—as beautiful on the inside as the outside.
(I Thessalonians 4:6-7)

There are times in our day-to-day "plodding" through life that we overlook the needs of others, show ourselves insensitive to their plight in life, or are just plain oblivious to the heartache of our neighbors because we are just way too caught up in our own lives.  Sometimes our "overlooking" of the other's need is not intentional, but a product of the "busy-ness" of our day that results in us not being very open to seeing what is creating huge pain for another.  There are other times, though, when we are quite aware that another is in pain and we simply don't want to invest the time, energy, or "heart" to reach out to them.  

Our passage today focuses on a warning - "Don't run roughshod over the concerns of your brothers and sisters."  The idea of "running roughshod" is really easily divided into three defining characteristics:
  • Actions or attitudes that inflict pain or suffering - these can be purposeful or unintentional, but nonetheless, by their very expression, they cause the other to experience pain or suffering.
  • Being unjustly overbearing and domineering - the tendency to be "on top", demand one's own way, or to tell someone how to live their life is probably a good descriptor of this type of behavior.
  • Callous inconsideration or harshness - this carries the idea of actions and responses that are simply unkind, meant to hurt, or are just plain rude.
The warning is to NOT display these types of behaviors or attitudes because it minimizes the needs of our fellow man and limits the development of strong relationships in which we can find the source of counsel, wisdom, and support we need to face life's challenges.

Why are we given this warning?  Our passage tells us that God views their concerns as HIS concerns.  When we minimize them, ignore them, or treat them as though they are not worthy of our attention, we are saying that what God takes very seriously is insignificant to us.  Ouch!  Let me be the first to admit that I have "run roughshod" over some of the needs of my friends on occasion (I hope it has not been too often).  In almost every case, it has been unintentional, but it has made an impression on that individual that takes some time to overcome.  By my actions (or inactivity), I have damaged the reputation of a caring and loving God.

As we begin our year, it would benefit us to ask God to help us "start differently" so that we might "finish differently".  I am not referring to a resolution here - but a genuine commitment to God to "display him" differently in our lives this year.  God honors that kind of request.  He is open to creating his image in us - perfecting it at every turn - until we finally exhibit consistency in our expression of his love, grace, and care for a hurting world.

God wants to take our disorderly, unkempt lives and turn them into something of beauty that reflects him ACCURATELY to those within our company.  His goal is to change us on the inside - thereby, impacting what others see on the outside.  So, if we need a little "house cleaning" on the inside, this is the time to allow God to begin that process - righting, ordering, and cleaning up what needs his touch.  In so doing, we begin to reflect his image with a clarity that those within our lives soon begin to see as a symbol of hope for their own needs.