The other day, I was having a conversation with my mother that really struck me. My mother has been through so much, and yet a warm spirit radiates within her. During one of the most difficult times in both of our lives my mom looked for help and support…but there was none. Not even in the church.
Now, I know what you are going to say. We are not to look to people anyway; we look to Christ. Yes, that is true. But at the same time, the reality is that people will look to you to show them who Christ is. Christ is no longer physically represented on this earth so He dwells within you. (Ephesians 2:22, Ephesians 3:16-17, Colossians 1:27, 1 Corinthians 3:16-17, Exodus 25:8, 22, Acts 17:26-28) By the lives we live and the words we speak, we show the world that Christ is real. That is why the apostle Paul was able to say: “Be ye followers of me, even as I am of Christ.” (1 Corinthians 11:1)
Of course, we are all human and dealing with our own issues. We are nowhere near perfect. Yet, we are to allow Christ to work within us to reach the people. In our lives, we can expect to meet people from all different backgrounds and walks of life. We are called to love them all the same.
Here’s the part I don’t understand. Why is it that we are often so quick to judge and speak condemning words, but less inclined to extend a helping hand when one is hurting? I’m sorry to say, but this makes me sick to my stomach. Haven’t we all experienced enough hurt by people who have done the same? Why perpetuate the cycle of hate?
This same spirit manifested itself in the way the Pharisees treated anyone they deemed as inferior to them. In John 8, they publicly humiliate and condemn a woman that had been caught in the act of adultery. What’s worse is that they wanted to catch Jesus in their claws as well. (yes, claws). Yet, watch Jesus’ response here: “He that is without sin among you, let him first cast a stone at her.” And later he says to the woman, after everyone had left: “Woman, where are thine accusers? Hath no man condemned thee…Neither do I condemn thee; go and sin no more.” (verses 7, 11)
Jesus shows the woman mercy. Also, note from this passage that there was none qualified to cast stones at her. They were most likely all guilty of greater sins that they were accusing this woman of.
What does this tell us? In no way should we be adopting this Pharisaical attitude but instead be learning from the example of Christ. Let’s not harden our hearts against others, but allow the spirit of Christ to soften and subdue your hearts. If you know someone that has strayed from the faith or has committed any wrongdoing, use this as an opportunity to reach out in love.
In Galatians 6:1, the apostle Paul says: “Brethren, if a man be overtaken in a fault, ye which are spiritual, restore such a one in the spirit of meekness…Bear ye one another’s burdens, and so fulfill the law of Christ.”
We don’t often recognize how our actions are hurting others. How many people do you know who no longer attend church because they were wounded by a fellow church member? This just shows us how deep suffered hurts can run…
The church is full of hurting people. Thus, we often inflict our own hurts upon others. And likely, we all have a past that we are ashamed of. But let’s not forget: Jesus saves. Our duty is not to look up other’s faults and draw our own faulty conclusions about who we think they are. Let’s leave all judgment to God. Instead of watching others, an alternative is to use this time invested in asking the Lord what you need to change within yourself. Trust me there is enough work here to keep you busy for a lifetime.
The spirit of Christ is a marked contrast than that of the world. The world says to meet hate with hate; fire with fire. But the ways of man are not the ways of God. (Isaiah 55:8, 9) Dr. Martin Luther King once said: “Darkness cannot drive out darkness; only light can do that. Hate cannot drive out hate; only love can do that.”
When one is driven by a Christ-like spirit, they will tend to return evil for good. Here’s an example. In 1 Samuel 26, when David had the opportunity (more than once) to kill King Saul, the man who ruthlessly sought to take his life, he spoke these words: “The Lord forbid that I should stretch forth mine hand against the Lord’s anointed…who can stretch forth his hand and be guiltless?” (verses 8, 11) Even Jesus Himself did not stoop to Satan’s level when he contended with him over the body of Moses, but instead said: “The Lord rebuke thee.” (Jude 9)
In Thoughts from the Mount of Blessing, we read: “The spirit of hatred and revenge originated with Satan, and it led him to put to death the Son of God. Whoever cherishes malice or unkindness is cherishing the same spirit, and its fruit will be unto death…In the gift of His Son for our redemption, God has shown how high a value He places upon every human soul, and He gives to no man liberty to speak contemptuously of another. We shall see faults and weaknesses in those about us, but God claims every soul as His property – His by creation, and doubly His as purchased by the precious blood of Christ. All were created in His image and even the most degraded are to be treated with respect and tenderness. God will hold us accountable for even a word spoken in contempt of one soul for whom Christ laid down His life.” (p. 71-72)
I don’t know about you, but I want to show the world the love of Christ. God forbid that someone should be turned away from the truth, because of my words or actions. Will you join me in making a solemn oath to use our lives for something greater? Something much more beautiful? His love surpasses all hurts and pain. Together, let’s ask God to stop this cycle of hate and instead bear one another up in love. God Bless!
“Let all bitterness and wrath and anger and clamour and evil speaking be put away from you, with all malice: And be ye kind to one another, forgiving one another, even as God for Christ’s sake hath forgiven you.” (Ephesians 4:31,32)
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