Recently my family enjoyed a trip to the mountains of New Mexico for a family ski trip. During Jr. High and High School, my church’s youth group took annual ski trips where I developed a love for the mountains and for snow sports. It was something my wife and I were excited to share with our kids – and they, too, LOVED it!
Most of the time, there is something very peaceful about skiing and snowboarding. Of course, the first stages of learning how to survive getting from the top of the run to the bottom do incur a fall or crash…you know, every now and then. Sometimes, the learning can lead to frustration – even on the side of a beautiful mountain.
But, once you get going and make a few successful turns, your confidence starts to build. You feel a little wind on your face. You do a good job balancing what you’ve been told to do with what you can actually make yourself do. You are skiing!
Then all of a sudden out of nowhere, you hear, “On your left!” A faster and (usually) more experienced skier comes flying by near enough to feel the breeze. Sometimes we marvel at their grace and the relative ease at which they seem to move. Sometimes, though, we get distracted. Gravity wins and we get to learn again how to get back up.
This happens in real life all the time. As believers, we all want to be successful as we travel down the ski-run of life. We want to walk (live) in a manner worthy of the Lord, to please Him in all respects, to bear fruit in every good work and to increase in the knowledge of God (Col 1:9-10). As we live life, every now and then someone seems to blow by us. It might not be audible, but you can almost feel someone coming and passing you. “On your left!” they say as they go on about their life.
In high school and college, I was humbled by my friends who were more disciplined to have personal Bible study time. I looked up to my Youth Pastor and the adult volunteers who knew so much scripture and were able and willing to teach it to us. I also marveled at older students who seemed to have a life plan. Take my sister for example. Early in high school, she found a passion for rhetoric, debate, and research. She was very successful in these endeavors and decided she wanted to be an attorney. After high school graduation, she completed undergrad in four years, law school in three, and sure enough became a great attorney by her early to mid twenties.
I, on the other hand, took 8 years to earn a 4-year degree…please, you don’t need to call me Dr.
How do we respond when we see others passing us by? Be a Berean. In Acts 17, Paul is on his second mission trip. After teaching and then meeting with some resistance in Thessalonica, Paul journeyed south to Berea.
The brethren immediately sent Paul and Silas away by night to Berea, and when they arrived, they went into the synagogue of the Jews. Now these were more noble-minded than those in Thessalonica, for they received the word with great eagerness, examining the Scriptures daily to see whether these things were so. – Acts 17:10-11 [NASB]
The Berean church was eager to learn. That is one of the first things we need to model – humility and teachability. When I am passed on the slopes by a snowboarder, I can either watch how he/she is riding and try to learn something, or I can let my pride take over and start to compare my riding to theirs in an unfruitful way. “He isn’t even making turns.” “She’s almost out of control, I would NEVER ride like that!” But if I observe to learn, maybe I can grow and mature in my own riding.
When we encounter a more mature believer, let us not fall into the prideful sins of rivalry and envy, but let us be humble and EAGER to learn.
At the same time, we need to weigh all things and all people against Scripture. The Bereans were eager to learn. They were just as quick to hold Paul’s teaching to the test of Biblical standards and teachings. This is just as important; otherwise we might be quick to follow and model behaviors that don’t lead to becoming more Christlike. For us to be able to do this, we must spend time in God’s word!
Before this post is completed, I would like to also briefly talk about being the one who is passing others. In skiing, the skier downhill has the right-of-way. Those who can ski better or faster need to look out for those going slower who are downhill. When coming close to another skier it is common and decent to kindly announce yourself with, “On your left” (or ‘right’), so that the downhill skier knows you are coming.
In life, while we will encounter more mature believers, eventually we will also be one of the more mature ones. We need to look out for those who are ‘downhill’ from us. We need to be a good example for them to follow.
In 1 Corinthians 11:1, Paul says “Follow me, as I follow Christ.” He also tells Pastor Timothy to be an example for other believers in 1 Timothy 4:12. My sister set a good example of diligence for me to follow – I just wish I had followed it sooner. But, that was not the total of her example. She also modeled a Christlike character for me. She had her act together and I did not. She never ridiculed me for it, but was always quick to help and encourage. This is how more mature believers need to treat those who are looking up to them.
And, just like the faster skier needs to be intentional about looking out for those downhill, one mark of mature believers is to look for younger believers to help and encourage.
So, today or this week or this month – at some point, you will either be getting passed or you might be passing someone on the ski-run of life.
Remember to be a Berean. None of us have fully attained to Christlikeness. We all can learn from others. Be humble. Be eager to learn. Be quick to study your Bible.
Look for someone you can help and encourage in their walk with the Lord. It might be a nice note or word. It might be sharing a meal. It will be intentional and prayerful. Discipling others is a part of maturity for the believer. Don’t be nervous to come up to a younger believer and say,
“On your left!”