One of the most challenging things to do as a Christian is to behave in a godly, Christ-like fashion, especially under difficult circumstances. It takes a special work of the Holy Spirit during those times to remain calm, gracious, hospitable, quiet, and dare I say it, have a mentality and humility to turn the other cheek, even if it is only to have it struck yet again. Our natural inclination is to do the exact opposite, to rant and rave and even lash out so that we can inflict as much pain as possible on the other party with whom we disagree or feel aggrieved by.
We often see such terrible, vindictive behaviour in the world. A political leader is removed from office, and that person thinks they have the right to publish a book within months, accusing their once fellow colleagues of terrible behaviour, while at the same time suggesting that their behaviour was exemplary. We see it when television celebrities have a marriage breakdown and a bitter divorce follows with opposing parties hurling abuse and making false allegations to secure a larger part of the pie.
Now one would hope that this type of terrible, vindictive behaviour is not evident in the church of Jesus Christ who died so that we might have unity and be one (Eph 2:11ff, see also Eph 4), but sadly it is. I regularly hear stories where Christians cannot see their way clear to forgive fellow Christians and to gradually start rebuilding relationships. When there is evidence of such deliberate sin, we do a great disservice to the name of Christ. Worse still is when ‘Christians’ behave vindictively towards those who we wish to win for Christ. How we must grieve the Holy Spirit within us when this occurs!
Do you know, the company we keep can be very unhelpful, especially when they keep feeding us falsehoods and half-truths? Paul warns about such company in 1 Cor 15:33-34, “Do not be deceived: ‘Bad company corrupts good morals.’ Become sober-minded as you ought and stop sinning; for some have no knowledge of God. I speak this to your shame.” In 1 John 4:10c, we read, “…. whoever does not practice righteousness is not of God, nor is the one who does not love his brother.”
We often speak about the importance of having good theology and sound doctrine, but if it doesn’t move us onto godly, Christ-like living, which includes forgiving our brothers and sisters in Christ and others, we may need to examine the company we regularly keep. Sometimes we need to be able to say to fellow believers, or even to those near and dear to us, “Enough! Stop sinning! What you are saying and doing is not pleasing to our Saviour and so un-Christ-like.”
Perhaps we need to read Romans 5:1-11 repeatedly. For that Scripture reminds us that while we were ungodly, sinners, and enemies of God, Christ died for us so that believing we are forgiven. Wow, what a Saviour and what a great example to follow to bring healing to this broken world. So, if required, let us stop sinning and start the healing process where there are broken relationships.
Prayer: Lord, give us eyes to see and ears to hear what your Word and Spirit are saying to us. Please forgive us and help us to forgive and love others as You have forgiven and loved us for then we will be more Christ-like. Amen. JZ.