No one likes inconvenience. Online shopping, streaming services, and iPhones all cater to our convenience. It isn’t natural for the human to be flexible, and for some people it is much harder.
When I think of the word “flexibility,” I think of a rubber chord willing to bend in any direction without breaking. Unlike a metal rod will not move an inch, the rubber tool is willing to move in any direction due to its flexible nature.
Christians can benefit from being a bit more flexible towards others in their life. Jesus did not mind interruptions during His ministry. When He was travelling from location to location, He encountered different types of people and even stopped for them on the way to His next destination.
While Jesus was teaching, He granted the request of the synagogue official to resurrect his daughter (Matt 9:18-26). On His way, He paused to address the woman with the hemorrhage who touched His cloak (Matt 9:20-22). During His teaching ministry, some interrupted His teaching by lowering a paralytic through the roof in order for Him to heal them (Mark 2:1-12). In addition to that, the Pharisees and Sadducees would constantly approach Him to challenge His ministry and catch Him in a trap, He would pause to address them (Matt 16:1). And He also stopped to address the crowds that only sought Him for food (John 6:24-25).
Now, theologically, we know that God’s plans cannot be “interrupted” or changed, but these texts show that Christ had a way of incorporating a certain approach to His ministry on earth which allowed for Him to embrace these so-called “interruptions” as way of ministering to people and serving others. In one sense, they were calculated interruptions that allowed for Him to display the glory of God and all part of His original plan. Christ did not treat all distractions as true distractions, but incorporated specific interruptions as part of His mission on earth. Instead of protecting His time in a stingy or selfish way, He sought out opportunities and looked for ministry in every corner.
Understanding Christ’s attitude and approach towards His short time on earth can really influence how we approach our lives too. How can we be people who use flexibility for the Gospel? Why should we be more flexible Christians? How can we glorify God through the moments that seem like interruptions? Here are a few ways that we can accomplish this:
Flexibility Understands that Things Change
The flexible Christian is sensitive to change. Life changes, people change, and we change. Things don’t always go according to plan and only God executes His plan perfectly. We must be understanding of others when they experience things out of their control that change their life and plans, and which, in turn, change our lives and plans. God is in the business of changing our plans as He directs our steps to His eternal purpose (Prov 16:1, 9). Maybe your plan or perspective was not the right one and God is correcting the course. We need to the humility to acknowledge that changed plans are not inherently wrong.
Flexibility Serves Others
The inflexible person does not want to serve others, but only wants to serve himself. But let me clarify this: protecting godly priorities is not foolish or selfish (I’m not saying throw away the calendar). Instead, it does mean that in our schedules we seek out more opportunities to bend to the preferences of others as a means of service. Let’s be more intentional about finding ways to help others, intentional about being kind to them, and intentional of thinking of them first (Philippians 2:3; Rom 15:1-2). Remember, Christ came to serve and not be served (Matt 20:28). This opens up countless opportunities of service!
Flexibility Capitalizes on Gospel Opportunities
Providential Gospel opportunities come in the form of interruptions. It could be at the grocery store, in a text message, or through a spontaneous conversation with your child. The apostle Paul did all things for the sake of the Gospel and was willing to forsake his liberties in order to win others to Christ (1 Cor 9:22-23; 10:33). Are you sensitive to the Gospel opportunities that God has so graciously introduced into your schedule? Let’s capitalize on these opportunities by being incorporating flexibility into our hearts and schedules.
Flexibility Redeems the Time
Productivity gurus know that time is a commodity that you cannot get back. Minutes are more precious than money. Things that call for our attention can be urgent, non-urgent, important, or unimportant (or a mix of them all). Since God is sovereign, He interrupts our schedule both with Gospel opportunities and with expressions of His goodness. Godly priorities might necessitate a “No” response to one type of interruption. But if we’re being honest, some interruptions that we have declined are really just us selfishly guarding our own liberty, preferences, and inconveniences. Consider this: the more productive choice, in some cases, might be there interruption. It might be the better choice to correct your child on the stop, or have that phone conversation, or help the person on the side of the rode. At times, the more eternally productive choice would be to tend to the interruption.
Flexibility Shows Our Idols
What we protect the most is what we love the most. Maybe the God-given interruption is taking us away from our idol, and we’re reluctant to give up that idol. An idol is anything elevated to the place of God in our life. It could be a time-wasting activity, material possession, or even a good thing and honorable thing like relationships. Maybe we have made an idol out of ourselves and the usage of our time. Our resistance to the interruption may indicate that we’ve made an idol out of the thing we are fighting to protect. But God is gracious. This opportunity to display flexibility is His way of bringing attention to what we love the most in life, and that may possibly be an idol of the heart.
Flexibility Kills Our Selfishness
In displaying flexibility, we are bending to the needs of others and serving them. Human nature’s desire is to cater to self and be served, rather than catering ourselves to others. Being flexible with interruptions and changes helps kill this sin of selfishness. It reminds us that we are not the center of attention and that life is not about us and our “important” plans. Instead, life is about the glory of God and the service of His people. It’s about doing good deeds by being kind to all mean especially to the household of God (Gal 6). It’s about desiring others to be reconciled to God and for God’s people to be more holy. If it takes the sacrifice of our preferences and time, then it is all worth it in the end to be flexible.
So, the next time a good interruption takes place in your life, try being flexible. Something good might just happen.