Acts 28:16-20, 30-31
"When Peter saw him, he said to Jesus, ‘Lord, what about him?’ Jesus said to him, ‘What if I want him to remain until I come? What concern is it of yours? You follow me.’" Jn 21: 21
Wouldn’t we all have less stress in our lives if we followed the advice that Jesus gave Peter today? If he were sending an email, he probably would have written, "MYOB!" (Mind your own business!) How often do we concern ourselves with things that are none of our business? Or how often do we offer advice before we’ve been asked for it?
I think our concern often comes from a sincere heart – we want everyone to be happy; or we want to solve someone’s problem; or we think that we know what’s best in a given situation. I know when our first son got married I wanted to "help" them set up house and when the first baby came, I wanted to "help" them as new parents. Meaning, I tried to tell them how I thought they should do things (because I wanted to share the "right" way). I even tried to show them a "better" way to change the baby’s diaper!
Fortunately for me, after a few bungled attempts and I’m sure some hurt feelings, the Holy Spirit gave me some good advice: "Don’t offer your opinion or help unless it’s asked for." It was really hard at first, (and I may still forget sometimes) but for the most part I’m living by the rule: zip my lips unless I’m asked. This advice is good for many situations… even evangelizing! (Or maybe especially evangelizing.)
We’ve all know the bible thumpers who try to cram Jesus down your throat, and it really doesn’t make you want to become a Christian. Scripture tells us: "Should anyone ask you the reason for this hope of yours, be ever ready to reply, but speak gently and respectfully." 1 Peter 3: 15-16
The secret is to wait until you are asked, then share away! Just be sure to ask the spirit to guide your words so that you will truly encourage and upbuild the person asking. In the meantime, we would be wise to follow the second part of Jesus’ advice to Peter, "You follow me."
Janice Carleton and her husband Jim live in Portland, OR and partner with Passionist Fr. Cedric Pisegna in Fr. Cedric Ministries. She is the mother of 4 grown children and grandmother of 6. Janice also leads women’s retreats and recently wrote her first book: God Speaks to Ordinary People – Like You and Me. Visit Janice’s website at http://www.janicecarleton.com/ or email her at [email protected].