Waiting for the Temperature to Change
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The key to environmental comfort at our house is a little dial on the wall in the hall. It's most often visited when someone is cold at our house. They will announce, "I'm cold!" And then they'll head for the thermostat. Of course they turn it up. So, if it's say 65 degrees in the house, maybe they push it up to 70 - what happens? Well, actually nothing for a while. But 45 minutes later, the adjustment starts to take effect, and the temperature starts moving toward 70. Now, you could just get impatient waiting and say, "Hey! I turned it up and nothing's happening." So, you could push it up to 75, 85, 90 degrees. It won't make it any warmer any sooner. You just have to set it like you want it and wait patiently.
Now, our word for today from the Word of God comes from 2 Timothy chapter 4. Paul is instructing Timothy in how to change the temperature in people's lives; how to warm up people who are cold, how to cool off people who are hot. How to bring people to the spiritual temperature they need to be. There's probably someone in your life right now that maybe you're concerned about in that regard.
Well, listen to what he says. Our word for today from the Word of God, 2 Timothy 4:2, "Preach the Word. Be prepared in season and out of season, correct, rebuke, and encourage with great patience and careful instruction." Now you notice here that Paul says there are three ways to bring about change in people's lives. Sometimes they need correction - just that gentle bringing back into line when they've stepped off onto a detour. Sometimes it's a rebuke, which is a very, very strong warning. Or it may be an encouragement. Sometimes a person needs to be complemented that they've done something right, even if they've only done one out of ten things right, you complement the one, hoping that the one will become two, and three, and four.
But you notice how you do it? He says, "Do it with great patience." If you're expecting an immediate result, you're gonna be disappointed. You see, you sow truth seed in a person's life, and then you back off and you let it germinate. But we're impatient people; we get no response, so we start to push harder. We push that old thermostat up saying, "Hey! Nothing's happening." You know what we do? We push people away.
Part of the equation for parenting, for discipling, for changing people's minds goes like this. Truth plus space equals life change. Give them some space. Give them the truth, give them some space, and a life will change. Give them time to choose the Truth themselves. Remember, Truth plus space equals life change.
Here's the other side of the equation. Trust plus pressure equals life closed. I think it's hardest in parenting. You know you correct, or rebuke, or you encourage your child - nothing happens. They don't seem to be getting it. And out of fear we start to push, and nag, and attack. Like a good farmer, pray for patience and allow the truth seed time to win. It's amazing what a little space can do. Give them the dignity of deciding on their own and you'll find strangely, weeks later; maybe months later, they'll announce a choice that sounds very much like what you said. But you allowed them the dignity of choosing the truth for themselves instead of the indignity of losing to you.
The Bible says, "God is long suffering toward us because He doesn't want us to perish." Are you long suffering? Our mission in people's lives is to sow seed and reap harvests; not to force it to grow. Truth plus space equals life change.
When you speak the truth in love, you're setting the thermostat where it needs to be in someone's life.
Now, don't keep turning up the heat. Wait for the temperature to change.