Watching a YouTube video of various scenes around the country where people were waiting for stores to open on "Black Friday" deeply concerned me. The mobs trampled one another, pushed, shoved and fought over items. One woman was injured fighting over a toaster. A toaster mind you!!!! These people seemed more like ravenous wolves than like shoppers. What happened to kindness, consideration, common courtesy? I wish I could say that this only happens one day a year, but our newspapers and the internet are full of tales like this where greed is stirred up and man's sin nature demonstrates itself clearly.
Unfortunately, this happens in the church as well. Any time we put our needs ahead of a brother or sister, we can fall into sin. Scripture teaches us: "For by the grace given to me, I say to everyone among you not to think of himself more highly than he ought to think, but to think with sober judgement, each according to the measure of faith that God has assigned" (Romans 12:3). Paul is instructing us as believers to have a servant's heart towards those in our fellowship. Pride is the killer of unity and the destroyer of relationships. Matthew Henry's commentary on this verse says: "Pride is a sin in us by nature; we need to be cautioned and armed against it." He goes on to write: "Whatever our gifts or situations may be, let us try to employ ourselves humbly, diligently, cheerfully, and in simplicity; not seeking our own credit or profit, but the good of many, for this world and that which is to come." (www.biblehub.com/romans/12-3.htm)
In fact, the entire chapter 12 of the book of Romans continues to outline our behavior as believers in contrast with that of the world. At the beginning of this chapter Paul writes: "Do not be conformed to this world, but be transformed by the renewal of your mind, that by testing you may discern what is the will of God what is good and acceptable and perfect." We are to be different and people should notice this in the way in which we treat one another. In verses
9-18, Paul delineates the marks of a true Christian: 1) Let love be genuine 2) Abhor what is evil and hold on to what is good 3) Love one another with brotherly affection 4) Outdo one another in showing honor 5) Don't be slothful in zeal but be fervent in the spirit, serve the Lord 6) Rejoice in hope 7) Be patient in tribulation 8) Be constant in prayer 9)Contribute to the needs of the saints and show hospitality 10)Bless those who persecute you (and do not curse them) 11) Rejoice with those who rejoice and weep with those who weep 12) Live in harmony with one another 13) Do not be haughty 14) Never be wise in your own sight 15) Live peaceably with all so far as it depends on you. Then, Paul goes on to warn us to not take revenge for any wrong we have received but to allow God to deal with it. When we avenge ourselves, we only drop to the level of the person who hurt us. There is no gain in this. However, God will repay as the Word tells us.
Now if we read through that list I believe we will see a tremendous difference in how the world deals with relationships and how we as Christians are to deal with one another. In the world, it is "dog eat dog", "survival of the fittest", "the one with the most toys when he dies wins", but as believers, we are to be different both in our church relationships and in our businesses.
As we enter into this season of Advent, let us consider how we can think of others more highly than ourselves putting their concerns ahead of ours. This does not mean that we ignore our concerns, but rather that we take on the character of Christ who came to serve and not be served. May we look for opportunities to be a blessing thus demonstrating that our talk and walk match when we proclaim that we are a Christian. In so doing, God will be glorified and those around us will be blessed. Selah!