Q&A: Advice about Priorities

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I need a bit of advice. We are close to three couples in particular at our congregation who can spend all day at football games but who cannot make Sunday school, Sunday night service, or Wed. night.  They just don’t seem to feel well enough to attend all the services. Sometimes they have headaches or are just too tired to even stay for the entire time on Sunday morning. I NEED ADVICE on how to talk to them about their priorities. I have encouraged until I am blue in the face…and find myself unable to sleep and getting discouraged over their “inabilities” to attend church services. Any suggestions…? I know it’s late. Tomorrow will be fine for a reply. Thanks Cindy.
♥ Jillian
Dear Jillian,
Well, this is very sad and, if unchecked, can have eternal consequences, both for them and for those they could be influencing with a good example. First, I’d sit down with the elders, if you have them, and express this very valid concern. If they are Biblically what they should be, they will be happy to talk to these couples and voice this concern, since they are the ones who have to give an account for their souls on the judgment day (Heb.13:17). I would also talk to your preacher, if he hasn’t ever addressed this in his Sunday morning teaching (that’s probably when they and others who might really need this teaching would be present), and humbly ask him to consider teaching on it. Perhaps the elders would ask him to do this. Then, personally, I would take the ladies for coffee or lunch, after praying hard about this conversation for a week, and then just tell them that you are not presuming to be sin-free; that you want them to come to you and help you be spiritually mature whenever they can. Then tell them that you have wanted to say this for a long time because you feel so close to them and want to be in heaven with them. Then, spit it out. Include verses that trouble you…like Mt.6:33. Include also how that when you take the Lord’s supper, you are forced to think about how inconvenient it was for Jesus to be carrying that cross on his bloody back up to Golgotha; how He probably had been through quite a long night that previous Thursday night; how He probably didn’t feel really good trekking up that hill for me… in fact he probably felt pretty nauseated. But, even when he could have called 10,000 angels, he stayed. Also, tell them that it’s helpful for you to ask this when trying to decide if I really can be at worship/Bible study or not: “If this was a University of ____________ football game and my son was playing, would I feel good enough to be there?” Give yourself some tests like this. That’s what we do when we “examine ourselves” during the Lord’s supper (I Cor.11:28). I am the only one who can examine me. But others can help me be faithful and will help me be faithful if they love me and if their priorities in our friendship are what they should be. Another good self test is this: If Jesus were attending at ___________church during this service, would I be able to make it there? Well, scripturally,…He is (Matt. 18:20). You also need to talk to your husband. Be sure he is praying and the two of you decide who would be most effective having this talk…you to the girls or him to the guys.

Remember this, too. It may not work. You may be “put in your place.” But if you did it with the right spirit (Gal.6:1), and you will, it is still the right thing to do in view of a looming judgment and the obvious nature of this half-hearted Christianity. Remember, too, that sometimes people get angry before they come to repentance. This has happened in my personal experience several times.

When you have done this, try not to worry any more. When you see these people, treat them with the ultimate kindness and try to maintain the closeness. You can’t MAKE people do right. (But you can make a sacrifice of some of your comfort zone in behalf of their eternities. It’s just the best gift you have to offer them.) I’m really thankful you are in the position and have the will to help these people. Life is short. Eternity is …well, eternal. Keep me posted. I will pray.
Love you,
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