Now, I want to first say that I’m a firm believer in lovingly and biblically confronting habitual sin in fellow believers lives. I believe that it is the most loving thing to do. We are called to do so in order to protect our brother or sister from falling. That being said, the sins we are to confront are layed out by scripture, not by men. This comment was said to me after hearing my opinion on vaccination. I also received a comment similar to this that was actually more straight forward in regards to my salvation. The opinion that sparked that comment? My opinion on Halloween…Now, I’m not here to debate these or any other topics but I want you to have the context behind these accusations. I want you to see that I wasn’t doing anything that would cause someone to biblically question my salvation such as the things in this list for example:
Or do you not know that the unrighteous will not inherit the kingdom of God? Do not be deceived: neither the sexually immoral, nor idolaters, nor adulterers, nor men who practice homosexuality, nor thieves, nor the greedy, nor drunkards, nor revilers, nor swindlers will inherit the kingdom of God. And such were some of you. But you were washed, you were sanctified, you were justified in the name of the Lord Jesus Christ and by the Spirit of our God. 1 Corinthians 6:9-10
While it’s the heart that has not repented and placed their trust in Christ alone to save them that condemns a person and not a set of rules, these are clearly condemned sins in God’s word. These are the things we are clearly called to confront in each other. But this post isn’t about legalism, this is about how we interact with those that have different opinions on ideas that are not clearly condemned in scripture. It’s about how the bible calls us to dwell with each other even in the midst of a disagreement.
So what does God say about the body of Christ in His word? Let’s look at a passage from Paul in Ephesians 4:1-16.
I therefore, a prisoner for the Lord, urge you to walk in a manner worthy of the calling to which you have been called, with all humility and gentleness, with patience, bearing with one another in love, eager to maintain the unity of the Spirit in the bond of peace. There is one body and one Spirit—just as you were called to the one hope that belongs to your call— one Lord, one faith, one baptism, one God and Father of all, who is over all and through all and in all. But grace was given to each one of us according to the measure of Christ’s gift. Therefore it says,
and he gave gifts to men.”
Wow. Do you see the main theme? When we are living in unity and speaking the truth in love we will function correctly. This means we are helping each other grow in the knowledge and love of Christ. When we are functioning this way we are all working toward a common goal which is growing up into Christ (vs. 15). We’re talking about sanctification. Isn’t that what we all want? Think about it like this, when we make a cutting remark toward a believer we are hindering not only our sanctification, but other believers as well. Furthermore, since we are now the temple of God (Eph. 2:19-22), He is most glorified when His body is functioning correctly so when we act in this way we are stealing His glory. Ouch. I would make the claim that James is speaking to this very issue in his letter.
So also the tongue is a small member, yet it boasts of great things. How great a forest is set ablaze by such a small fire! And the tongue is a fire, a world of unrighteousness. The tongue is set among our members, staining the whole body, setting on fire the entire course of life, and set on fire by hell. For every kind of beast and bird, of reptile and sea creature, can be tamed and has been tamed by mankind, but no human being can tame the tongue. It is a restless evil, full of deadly poison. With it we bless our Lord and Father, and with it we curse people who are made in the likeness of God. From the same mouth come blessing and cursing. My brothers, these things ought not to be so. James 3:5-10
When we are sarcastic, gossiping, or just plain rude and hateful we are tearing down the kingdom of God. This is a tragedy dear friends. It breaks my heart. It’s time that we start living out these imperatives and “let all bitterness and wrath and anger and clamor and slander be put away from us.”(Eph. 4:31). We need to put off these things and instead “Be kind to one another, tenderhearted, forgiving one another as God in Christ forgave us.”(Eph. 4:32). We are heirs together in Christ. We have been given such a beautiful gift of grace in Him! We NEED each other (1 Cor. 12:12-31). It’s inevitable, you can’t escape it. As my Pastor says “God has given the body to the body for the building up of the body.” Too many times we can get caught up in our pride and forsake loving each other for getting our point through. We are so blinded by pride that we are losing sight of the very goal we are here for, that those around us would be saved and God exalted. Let’s humble ourselves before God and each other and take a step back to look at how we interact. God is showing me the ways I need to grow in this. When we have a biblical view of self we can then give grace to those around us. I love this quote by Spurgeon. “He who grows in grace remembers that he is but dust, and he therefore does not expect his fellow Christians to be anything more. He overlooks ten thousand of their faults, because he knows His God overlooks twenty thousand in his own case…When our virtues become more mature,…we shall be more tolerant of infirmity, more hopeful for the people of God, and certainly less arrogant in our criticisms.” Like I said before, this isn’t a call to overlook habitual sin but rather a call to give grace.
So often we sacrifice grace for boldness. Yes, let us be bold for the gospel and things of the Lord but we must not separate the two. Truth is bold on it’s own. God doesn’t need you to add that into the equation while speaking it. We need to be gracious and kind while allowing truth to do the work. Jesus is the truth and He will convict as he pleases. We don’t need to bang it into the heads of those around us. We must speak it in love and trust the Holy Spirit to draw, convict and change the hearts of others. This applies to sharing the gospel with unbelievers as well as speaking to a fellow believer about an issue. Here’s a convicting passage about this topic:
If I speak in the tongues of men and of angels, but have not love, I am a noisy gong or a clanging cymbal. And if I have prophetic powers, and understand all mysteries and all knowledge, and if I have all faith, so as to remove mountains, but have not love, I am nothing. If I give away all I have, and if I deliver up my body to be burned, but have not love, I gain nothing. Love is patient and kind; love does not envy or boast; it is not arrogant or rude. It does not insist on its own way; it is not irritable or resentful; it does not rejoice at wrongdoing, but rejoices with the truth. Love bears all things, believes all things, hopes all things, endures all things. 1 Corinthians 13:1-7
Lately, I have witnessed Christians bash other Christians for their opinion on many things that are gray areas or just downright unbiblical rules. I have seen hate and distaste come out of their hearts in the things they write or say. My heart has been breaking because of the hatred in their hearts and the way they are portraying themselves to unbelievers. Here’s a quote from a woman who as far as I know doesn’t claim Christ. “And you wonder why people don’t like Christians. You all are really showing the love of God and seem to be very very holy.” This was on post in which a disagreement about whether or not we should celebrate Halloween arose. Christians that believe we have the freedom to participate from a heart that is not worshipping something other than God were attacked by other Christians that believe it’s the day of the Devil. First of all, there is no day that is not the Lord’s day. He rules ALL days, even Halloween. But that’s besides the point. Look at the way that woman felt after reading the conversation. It’s heart wrenching. We turn people away from Christ when we are hateful to each other. Why are we arguing over these issues and yet don’t confront the heart issues in the church? We are too busy yelling at people about dressing up on Halloween or having a glass of wine with their dinner that we overlook the really devastating sins in the body. Things like hate, gossip, selfishness and pride. We are being Pharisees! We are confronting outward things and overlooking the heart. Jesus condemned this!
Then Pharisees and scribes came to Jesus from Jerusalem and said, “Why do your disciples break the tradition of the elders? For they do not wash their hands when they eat.” He answered them, “And why do you break the commandment of God for the sake of your tradition? For God commanded, ‘Honor your father and your mother,’ and, ‘Whoever reviles father or mother must surely die.’ But you say, ‘If anyone tells his father or his mother, “What you would have gained from me is given to God,” he need not honor his father.’ So for the sake of your tradition you have made void the word[of God. You hypocrites! Well did Isaiah prophesy of you, when he said: “‘This people honors me with their lips, but their heart is far from me; in vain do they worship me, teaching as doctrines the commandments of men.’” And he called the people to him and said to them, “Hear and understand: it is not what goes into the mouth that defiles a person, but what comes out of the mouth; this defiles a person.” Then the disciples came and said to him, “Do you know that the Pharisees were offended when they heard this saying?” He answered, “Every plant that my heavenly Father has not planted will be rooted up. Let them alone; they are blind guides. And if the blind lead the blind, both will fall into a pit.” But Peter said to him, “Explain the parable to us.”And he said, “Are you also still without understanding? Do you not see that whatever goes into the mouth passes into the stomach and is expelled? But what comes out of the mouth proceeds from the heart, and this defiles a person. For out of the heart come evil thoughts, murder, adultery, sexual immorality, theft, false witness, slander. These are what defile a person. But to eat with unwashed hands does not defile anyone.” Matthew 15:1-20
See James 4:11-12 as well.
This is an epidemic fellow believers and we need to step up. Will you look at your words and actions with me? Will you strive to love the body and build it up so that we may be sanctified and ready for our Lord when He comes back for us. Will you joyfully join me in praising our God for bringing us together? What a good and gracious God we serve and what an example He has left for us. Let’s take up our cross and die to our pride and follow His lead. It will be hard but HE will enable us to do so.