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Wednesday, June 23, 2010

What I’m Reading Today: 2 Thessalonians 3

Some of you might wonder where I get my daily reading schedule. I use Eugene Peterson’s “The Message: Remix – Pause”. That edition contains the daily reading schedule that I follow.

In that edition, Peterson often has a question at the end of a passage that he uses to draw the reader further into the reading. Sound familiar? It must be a Peterson thing. Anyway, the question Peterson raised at the end of today’s passage was a provocative one. Let me set up – and then share – that question for you.

The author of today’s passage wrote: “Don’t you remember the rule we had when we lived with you? ‘If you don’t work, don’t eat.’ And now we’re getting reports that a bunch of lazy good-for-nothings are taking advantage of you. This must not be tolerated. We command them to get to work immediately – no excuses, no arguments – and earn their keep.”

Peterson then asks this uncomfortable question: “Does refusing to feed a hungry [person] who refuses to work contradict godly compassion?”

It would be easy to answer with a resounding, “Yes.” As I sat with Peterson’s question, however, I found myself asking a follow up question. “In that circumstance, what is it that would draw out our compassion? Would it be the individual’s hunger, or would it be the individual’s slothfulness (assuming the individual were capable of working, of course)?”

How one answers the question would go a long way in determining one’s response. If it were the individual’s hunger, then we would feel compelled to provide food. If it were the individual’s slothfulness, then we would feel compelled to try to motivate the individual to take action (i.e. withhold the food). In other words, how one assesses the problem goes a long way in determining one’s course of action.

Perhaps you have been wrestling with a problem in the context of your own life for awhile. You might even have been frustrated that the response you considered to be a “no-brainer” hasn’t worked.

If that’s the case, perhaps you should step back from the problem and ask yourself what the underlying issue really is. In exploring alternatives, you might stumble upon an overlooked aspect of the situation that could give you a new perspective on what the real issue is – producing an exciting (and perhaps unexpected!) solution.

Til next time…

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