Wednesday, March 6, 2013
Walking on Egg Shells
God's Word is filled with admonitions on how Christian brothers and sisters are to relate to one another. To begin with, we must remember that our lives are hidden in Christ. We belong to Him and must put aside our own selfish desires. Paul, in speaking of sexual immorality, tells us that our bodies are the Temple of the Holy Spirit and that we have been bought with a price by the blood of Christ. Therefore, we are no longer our own (I Corinthians 6:19-20). This changes the way we look at others and how we care for one another. As a bond-slave to Christ, I have no right to demand my own way in relationships in church, work or in my family.
Jesus spoke to His disciples telling them the way to relate to others. Matthew 7:12 says: "So whatever you wish others would do to you, do also to them, for this is the Law and the Prophets." Most of us know this as the "Golden Rule" by which we are to conduct our interactions. If we would pause before making an unkind remark and ask ourselves, "How would I feel if the person I am speaking to said this to me?" Often, we might not be so quick to spout our opinion. Jesus also told His disciples: "This is my commandment, that you love one another as I have loved you" (John 15:22). We are not asked to "tolerate" each other but to love one another especially as Christians. Lets face it. In most families and even in our churches and work places, we deal with a lot of different people and personalities. We are not always going to see eye to eye with them. Disagreements and differences are not bad as long as we do not break the bond of love in the process. We are to be known for our love
despite our differences. This is what characterizes a Christian life and makes people take notice.
In his letter to the Ephesians, Paul writes: "Be kind to one another, tenderhearted, forgiving one another, as God in Christ forgave you" (Ephesians 4:32). Then, in his letter to the Philippians, Paul writes: "Let each of you look not only to your own interests, but also to the interests of others" (Philippians 2:4). It isn't bad, according to Paul, to have your own interests, but if we defer to others we will demonstrate the love of Christ. Peter adds this exhortation to Christian believers who were undergoing times of persecution: "Finally, all of you, have unity of mind, sympathy, brotherly love, a tender heart and a humble mind. Do not repay evil for evil or reviling for reviling, but on the contrary bless, for to this you were called that you may obtain a blessing" (I Peter 3:8-9). While we may not undergo direct persecution for our faith such as these believers experienced, we may be dealing with those who have a grudge against us or who seem impossible to please. So why as Christians do we need these reminders in God's Word? The answer is that we still carry in our bodies the old sin nature which can cause us to react in anger instead of responding in love.
Perhaps the most straight forward biblical injunction is given by John: "If anyone says, 'I love God,' and hates his brother, he is a liar; for he who does not love his brother whom he has seen cannot love God whom he has not seen. And this commandment we have from him: whoever loves God must also love his brother" (1 John 4:20-21). These are not easy words to read let alone perform. Yet God has called us to a different way of living with each other. Our success depends on a solid relationship with God first. If we mistreat one another, it is an indication that we have, at best, an inadequate relationship with God.
Most difficulties that cause friction between people come as a result of pride, selfishness and arrogance...all of which can be traced back to the sin nature. Wanting our own way, demanding control or having a prideful attitude does not promote unity or love in the Body of Christ, at work or in our homes. In addition, demonstrating these traits is contrary to the teaching of our Lord.
No one enjoys walking on egg shells around others. We never know when the egg will break leading to messy consequences. Instead, we need to lay down our own interests at the foot of the cross and take up the mind of Christ. As the Apostle Paul wrote: "Have this mind among yourselves, which is yours in Christ Jesus, who though He was in the form of God, did not count equality with God a thing to be grasped, but made Himself nothing, taking the form of a servant, being born in the likeness of men" (Phil. 2:5-6). Notice Paul told us this mind is OURS in Christ. Therefore, let us behave as servants one to another and thus, fulfill the call of our Lord to love one another and rise above those nasty egg shells that can so easily break! Selah!
I welcome your thoughts and insights. May you be encouraged today.
Pictures used come from Wikipedia Commons. The first photo is courtesy of Kangel and the second courtesy of Goldmund100.