Indifference is all around us. I am a people watcher, so maybe I pick up on this a little more than someone who isn't. Whether it is the casual disregard for someone's property exhibited when someone just drops their unwanted trash by the wayside without a care in the world, or the passing by of a motorist broken down on the side of the freeway - lack of concern and compassion is just part of what we see everyday. Indifference is also the producing of "work" which only requires mediocre effort. Anytime we don't give our "all" to a project, we can be guilty of being a little indifferent to the outcome, as well. In this world, Christ called for his people to make a difference - to stand out, to be counted, and to be agents of change. If you haven't guessed it by now, we have a hard job ahead of us!
Patient persistence pierces through indifference; gentle speech breaks down rigid defenses. (Proverbs 25:15 MSG)
Patient persistence is the antidote to indifference. Now, if you struggle with ever wanting to just give up when things seem like they are too hard to break through, or people just don't want to listen to what you have to say, then you have probably come face-to-face with the desire to just throw in the towel and declare their is no use in trying anymore. Persistence is the ability to continue with something, even in the face of resistance, and even after the resistance has been removed. Patience is the ability to bear annoyances without retaliation, delays without explanation, pain without stumbling, provocation without getting in someone's face, and hardship without counting the cost too high to bear. So, the antidote to indifference is us living in such a way that our lives speak of a "difference"! Gentle speech is the antidote to the rigid defenses of those who resist our persistence!
I had to look up the synonyms for "patient" today because it is what I do - I like words and they inspire me, so I look them up! Here's what I found:
- Uncomplaining: When things aren't going our way, or as easily as we might have hoped, it is quite easy to get into a little jag of complaining, isn't it? Why? It is human nature to want things to be easy and to regret or be frustrated when things are not. Yet, our reminder today is that if we want to conquer the indifference in our own lives so we can make a difference in the lives of others, we have to begin with curbing our desire to complain about all the things that are not "right" with our life!
- Long-suffering, Forbearing: We have an example of this in Christ's life, but since none of us is exactly like Christ at the moment, we sometimes struggle with enduring injury, trouble, and provocation for any length of time, or with the patience of a "saint". The good news is that we are each Christ-like with the full potential to exhibit his example - we just need to tap into the potential we have been given. Nothing will turn the heads of rulers and our fellow man quicker than one who is exhibiting long-suffering and forbearance (self-control).
- Resigned: Some might think of this as giving up, but I think this is the attitude of heart and mind which is set on doing the will of another (Christ). When we live in such a manner so as to reveal our life is not our own, but is fully under the control and influence of Christ Jesus, we show the power of submission.
- Calm, Unruffled, Unexcited, Composed: Patient persistence pierces through indifference simply because people don't know what to do with someone they cannot "ruffle". All around us, people are seeking our "reaction" to what they say, do, or think. What they see in us is this ability to remain on an "even keel" even in the face of some pretty rocky and rough circumstances. This speaks volumes to those who might want to stir us up and make our lives a little topsy-turvy.
- Untiring: To continue without your strength or vigor being impacted is something most of us would love to do, but we all know how fickle our bodies are. We want to go on, but they demand rest. Our minds want to continue to work on something, but we suffer from mental exhaustion and our mental acuity begins to wane. In the face of indifference, Christ gives us the sharpness of mental acuity and the soundness of body to exert our best efforts while under his control.
We deal with indifference by being willing to make a difference. We answer the defenses of another with the gentleness of our speech. Let's not forget we are here on this earth as agents of change - ambassadors of the message of reconciliation and hope. We are here to encounter indifference and breakdown the rigidity of those who oppose the gospel. Just sayin!