I recently received a revelation dealing with relationships. More specifically in dealing with relationships between believers. I am pretty certain that we all have been in the situation where we have either had an injustice done to us by a brother or sister-in-the Lord or we see these things being done to another. I don’t know about you but my first reaction is “how could they, and they call themselves Christians.” Honestly, like it or not we have all been on either side of the situation.
Before I continue, I want to put in a disclaimer. As I was laying in bed last night the Lord prompted me to do so because some of you are going to react negatively to this…I am not referencing people who have issues with being abusive, neglectful, or controlling. I do address the issue of confronting one caught in sin later. I am saying that all of us at some time or another have either mistreated or observed one who has mistreated or taken advantage of a brother or sister-in-the-Lord. If you want to discuss this further with me please feel free to email me personally. I do understand!
It really takes a person that is mature in their walk to respond correctly–in love and with grace–to a situation like this. Most of the time we begin to rally the troops, spread the scenario around like jam so it gets good and sticky and makes the offender out to be a horrible person. Even though they really aren’t horrible but have treated another horribly.
You have to love when the Holy Spirit does a number on you as you enter into the battle zone and suddenly you are heavily impressed upon to see the error of the way you are thinking and responding toward an offender. (I will call the person an offender simply because they mistreated another brother or sister-in-the-Lord.) In a particular situation, my first reaction was to stir the pot of gossip…do you know what so-and-so just did…I can’t believe they treated _______ like that!
Don’t we typically think that Christians wouldn’t treat each other that way? Come on, that es a wrong assumption. Let’s face it, we all walk in the flesh from time to time but the bottom line is we shouldn’t. Here is a passage of Scripture that hits this on the mark:
For you, brethren, have been called to liberty; only do not use liberty as an opportunity for the flesh, but through love serve one another. For all the law is fulfilled in one word, even in this: “You shall love your neighbor as yourself.” But if you bite and devour one another, beware lest you be consumed by one another! I say then: Walk in the Spirit, and you shall not fulfill the lust of the flesh.
And the fruit of the Spirit is, love, joy, peace, longsuffering, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness, self-control…It is so easy to ignore some of the fruit, “longsuffering”, “kindness” and especially (for me that is) “self-control”. If we believe our instruction manual, it rather looks as though we have an obligation to one another, don’t you think?
Let’s go to an interesting story in the Old Testament where we see Noah enjoying the fruit of his labor, from his vineyard.
Then Noah began farming and planted a vineyard. And he drank of the wine and became drunk, and uncovered himself inside his tent. And Ham, the father of Canaan, saw the nakedness of his father, and told his two brothers outside. But Shem and Japheth took a garment and laid it upon both their shoulders and walked backward and covered the nakedness of their father; and their faces were turned away, so that they did not see their father’s nakedness. When Noah awoke from his wine, he knew what his youngest son had done to him.
At this point Noah has done something foolish and been found out by his youngest son Ham. Ham then goes and make issue of it with his brothers Shem and Japheth. But they, instead of embarrassing their father, chose to cover his nakedness. As a cross reference to verse 21 we read in Proverbs 20:1 that “Wine is a mocker, strong drink a brawler, and whoever is intoxicated by it is not wise.” The two brothers were looking out for their father’s reputation and they wouldn’t even look upon him in his embarrassing state.
Let me ask you, have you done foolishly as a believer? There are many scenarios in my mind that I can replay that I sure wish weren’t there. Times where I opened my mouth and inserted my foot and wished I could take back what was said. You see, if we love God and love others then we need to take this new command and live it out, first with our brothers and sisters. In our own eyes we might look better, we might be a better “Christian” or maybe we are the somebody that really needs to set that person straight! This from Proverbs really speaks loudly to me
Proverbs 6:16-19 (ESV) “There are six things that the LORD hates, seven that are an abomination to him: haughty eyes, a lying tongue, and hands that shed innocent blood, a heart that devises wicked plans, feet that make haste to run to evil, a false witness who breathes out lies, and one who sows discord among brothers”.
Now I can hear someone say wait a minute. Are you saying that we don’t expose their sin? There is a mandate on how to handle that. In Matthew 18 it talks directly of confronting one caught in sin. But before I go there I better be sure that the log is out of my eye and my motives are only out of love and for the betterment of my brother or sister.
I wonder what happens when a non-believer witnesses the correct response to the outrageous behaviour of another beleiver? I would like to think they see one who loves God and loves others. Not bringing shame to the offender and not being antagonistic or a false witness. Although, I confess that this is still not easy stuff to appropriate! For the worldly way and our natural tendency is self-motivated but the Christlike way is selfless. The world says to expose, embarrass and sling the insults because it makes us appear better and they the fool. Christ’s way is just the opposite, we do not damage the reputation of our brother or sister.
So I’m certain I won’t pass every test that comes along in this area. But, when I do act correctly and look out for the well-being of a brother or sister-in-the Lord, as obnoxious as they can be, I have peace with myself and God. And interestingly enough even with that offensive person.
Father God, these aren’t easy lessons to learn but this is a battle I want to win for Christ’s sake. I ask for wisdom and discernment to quicken immediately within me so I can see when I am headed in the wrong direction with my thinking. When I feel like I have every right to be angry at someone for whatever reason, let me hear Your still small voice speak “not I, but Christ..” We are not in this to win battles but to win others to Christ and to exhibit Christ’s love in all kinds of situations in life. How else will they know we are different? Like the old song says, “they will know we are Christians by our love…” Thank you for teaching me these hard lessons and giving me the heart’s desire to love You and love others. I surrender once again my right for Your will. In the powerful, life-changing name of Jesus!