“‘Don’t bother about his (Paul’s) letters,’ some say. ‘He sounds big, but it’s all noise. When he gets here you will see that there is nothing great about him, and you have never heard a worse preacher!’”
2 Corinthians 10:10 (TLB)
Some of the Corinthian church compared Paul to their other ministers, and they came to the conclusion that he was thoroughly inferior to them. Their judgment broke the relationship of love and learning between Paul and themselves. We too have our own inbuilt personal comparison sites, whether we are looking at spiritual or secular abilities. We have a habit of comparing capabilities, and it is possible for our reaction to others to also mess up our relationships with one another.
One day we found a new teenager serving behind the counter of a garden centre coffee shop we sometimes frequented at the weekends. He looked at us from under dark hair that was combed down over one eye. Over time we got to know him, and he became friendly in a quiet, diffident way. He was always prepared to go out of his way to help us. I felt sorry for him because he seemed to be in a job with few prospects. One day as we arrived, he opened the conversation:
“This is my last day here,” he said.
“What are you going to do?” I asked.
“I’m going to university.”
“Ah. What will you are reading?”
As you can see, even elementary mathematics is not my strong point, and I had managed to add two plus two and make five by jumping to conclusions about this young man. ‘Don’t judge a book by its cover’ also springs to mind. For all I know this young man will go on to change the way we understand the universe, delve into the un-seeable world of the subatomic, and receive a Nobel prize at the end of a productive life devoted to the higher realm of abstract numbers. He had one of the talents of the world, one of rich gifts that God has given us.
Our blessing, if I can put it that way, was to simply know this young man for who he was—a pleasant, polite, caring young man, who was willing in his shy way to respond to two people passing through his life. Our friendship with him was able to reflect just a little snippet of the heart to heart relationships that lie at the centre of true humanity, the God-given relationships, that outlast all temporary talents and gifts, however great they are.
May Jesus live in us, bringing the gift of true fellowship and friendship with all we meet, unsullied by appraisals and comparisons.
Study by Hilary Buck