Wednesday, April 17, 2013

Learning to Live with Others

A flower at Highlands Hammock
   Many years ago, my husband and I had a dog and cat living in our household.  The cat stayed outside most of the time but occasionally he came in to be pampered and receive his share of love.  Our female Dalmatian, Duchess, tolerated the situation very well for a dog.  As a matter of fact, they often napped together on our couch in the family room.  How funny to see this as they lay side by side!  No one could believe this could be possible.  I even took pictures of it to prove they co-existed peacefully.
     As believers in Jesus Christ, we are supposed to get along with those who are different too...especially those who are also in the household of faith.  It is so easy to be critical of someone who is different or who worships in a different manner than we do.  However, God has made each of us unique.  We are not clones of one another, because God made us each to function in various ways to complete the Body of Christ.  We are "adopted" by God into His family as Christians, and He wants His children to get along.  This applies in our homes, our churches and in our businesses as well.
     In his letter to the Christians in Rome, Paul wrote this admonition (Romans 10:10-13):  "For with the heart one believes unto righteousness, and with the mouth confession is made unto salvation.  For the Scripture says, 'Whoever believes on Him will not be put to shame.'  For there is no distinction between Jew and Greek, for the same Lord over all is rich to all who call upon Him.  For whoever calls on the name of the Lord shall be saved."
     Then, in another letter to the believers in Ephesus, Paul wrote these words (Ephesians 4:2):  "Be always humble, gentle, and patient.  Show your love by being tolerant with one another."  This is such an important instruction that I think people overlook today.  If a dog and cat can peacefully co-exist, we also ought to remember that lesson and for the love of Christ, we should love others who are different than we are.
     God did not give us the right to judge others.  He has given us the ability to look at the fruit of someone's life, but even then, God wants us to do so with patience, humility and gentleness.  Furthermore, we need to remember that our Creator chose us before we ever loved Him.  We were not comely at the time but wore the filthy rags of sin.  As He called us to Himself, we awoke from the death sleep of sin to new life in Christ and thus, began our sanctification which is an ongoing process.  Perhaps that person that seems so different or who irritates us is just a babe newly awakened to life in Christ.  They need time to grow.  With instruction and tolerance, we might be a tool in the hand of God to help them deepen their walk with Christ if we do not bruise the fruit of righteousness in their life with
a harsh word.
     Today, as a prayer focus, think of someone whom you work with, or attend church with.  Make them the focus of your prayers and ask the Lord to keep them on the path He has intended for them to walk.  Ask Him to open your eyes to their unique skills and abilities.  Let us remember that God is glorified most when we demonstrate His love for one another.  We may not always agree on things, but we can still focus on the one thing that is most important for life and eternity - Jesus Christ.  Selah!

Please note:  both flowers are found at Highlands Hammock State Park and both are unique in their beauty.  I want to thank Cathy Hardesty, a family friend, for the beautiful pictures she has allowed me to use from her album "Highlands Hammock".

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