By Jerelyn Pearson


This morning I woke up a bit grumpy, thinking of circumstances that weren’t the way I wished they would be. I hadn’t slept well. I was having feelings of inadequacy as an effective influence in relationships that are important to me. It seems sometimes that the harder I try, the more discouraged I get. My efforts often seem either to be resisted or simply ignored. I become overwhelmed by my weakness.

As we shared our first cup of coffee, my husband and I discussed and planned the upcoming day’s activities. But this conversation was only a temporary distraction from my worries.

With my second cup of coffee I walked outside into a bright sunshiny morning, greeted by hummingbirds, hibiscus, and the sparkling reflection of dew drops suspended in a spider web draped across the foliage in the flowerbed. As I sat on the swing sipping my coffee, I realized my attention had shifted from my insufficiencies to God’s creation. What a blessing! I decided to get my Bible and sit outside swinging, sipping, and reading.

The ribbon in my Bible marked the spot where I had stopped reading last time, 1 Corinthians chapter 8. So that’s where I began, and that’s where I found what I needed to overcome my discouragement.

1 Corinthians 8:1-3:
... knowledge puffeth up, but charity edifieth.
2 And if any man think that he knoweth any thing, he knoweth nothing yet as he ought to know.
3 But if any man love God, the same is known of him.

Imparting knowledge is not necessarily the most effective way to influence another. More often than not, the imparting of knowledge draws attention to the one presenting it rather than encouraging the one in need. It is love that builds one up. “Charity edifieth.”

I taught school for many years and one piece of advice that always stuck with me is this: “Your students have to know you care before they care what you know.” To be effective, knowledge or advice must be imparted lovingly, with wisdom, at the appropriate time. The way for me to be an effective witness to others is first of all to love God, “the first and great commandment,” and second to love others.

Matthew 22:37-39:
Jesus said unto him, Thou shalt love the Lord thy God with all thy heart, and with all thy soul, and with all thy mind.
38 This is the first and great commandment.
39 And the second is like unto it, Thou shalt love thy neighbour as thyself.

Without obedience to the first command, it is impossible to obey the second. Obedience to both enables me to take my focus away from my efforts and apparent results or lack of results and to simply love God and allow him to work in me. After all he’s the one who accomplishes his work in others as well as in me. I can only be the influence he wants me to be by loving him, following his guidance, and leaving the results up to him. Instead of becoming overwhelmed by my weakness, I become enabled by his strength!

I thank God for turning my attention away from me and toward him so I could receive the message of encouragement he had for me today. I pray that my experience encourages you too!



From the May 2008 issue of The Vine & Branches