How many times have you heard people say that they have nothing of real value to offer in service to the Lord? In this issue of The Vine, I would like to address the subject of doing something that matters – something that God is passionate about when it comes to His children and how they live for Him.
Once we receive Yeshua/Jesus as our Lord and Savior, we become members of His body - also known as the body of Christ. And just like a human body, each member or part is necessary for the body to function at its fullest potential. For this to happen, though, the body must be healthy and working in the manner designed by our Creator.
1 Corinthians 12:3 says that no one can say Jesus is Lord except by the Holy Spirit. Following this to its logical conclusion for me means that any person believing that Jesus is the Son of God must have Holy Spirit working in their lives, no matter what we see happening on the outside. And if Holy Spirit is at work in someone, obviously the work is not finished and clearly not ready to be judged.
When Paul penned the words to the church in Corinth almost 2000 years ago, he was trying to help them understand that every member (or person) in the body of Christ is important. I believe that many in the body of Christ need to be refreshed in this understanding today.
Paul goes on to say in chapter 13 that any gift a person has been given is of no value for that person if he or she doesn’t have LOVE. In other words, perhaps we could say that no matter how gifted, how talented, hardworking, educated, scripturally knowledgeable or generous a person is doesn’t matter, if they leave love out of the equation. We must apply love to every area of our lives.
I remember a time about 16 years ago when I failed the testing of my love miserably. I hope that by sharing the experience with you it will help you in your walk with the Lord. Or perhaps you know someone who would benefit from hearing about it.
At the time, I found myself in a rather heated discussion (first mistake!) with someone I dearly love, and this person loves the Lord, too. Because of our differences in belief, this precious loved one had chosen to end all contact with me. He believed that by doing so, he was protecting his family from being exposed to false teachings – believing that his church has taught him the ‘right’ doctrine and I have been deceived in my understanding of God and His ways.
What I do believe is that Holy Spirit was deeply grieved by our exchange. (Our relationship was later restored, but at the time…it was a mess!)
First, I broke my own rule, which is to never allow myself to be drawn into an argument about doctrine. Proverbs 20:3 says, “It is to a man’s honor to avoid strife, but every fool is quick to quarrel.” James 3:9-18 would have been a good passage for both of us to read before we even opened our mouths to speak. We can discuss…but argue? Nah, I don’t think so.
Anytime we are caught off guard, we must be careful to move quickly into an attitude of seeking the Lord’s face before we speak, so that we don’t lose our focus or our tempers. Otherwise, we run the danger of letting something come out of our mouths that doesn’t honor Father or represent His heart and desires in any given situation. I didn’t do that, or the argument would not have been allowed to occur. The appropriate thing for me to do would have been to gently encourage the other person in the conversation to call me after we’d both had an opportunity to seek the Lord about the matter.
That may have been all we needed to do in order to be reminded by Father that we love one another and there are some things that truly are not worth arguing about! And if either of us felt a need for correction – which was the case at the time, it should and could have been done differently – without the drama, the frustration, the pride that we were both demonstrating in the moment. Correction of any sort must be done in love, humility and under the direction of Father’s Spirit. We are to bear one another’s burdens, not throw fuel on a fire that could cause greater damage to both parties.
We are NOT each other’s Holy Spirit! No person on this planet has perfect understanding of the plan of God for another human being. Jesus even said that He did not come to judge, and yet we often end up running around trying to be Holy Spirit in someone else’s life, judging their actions or beliefs, sure that we know exactly what they need to think, say and do. Where is the humility in that?
Secondly, I allowed myself to say things in the heat of the moment that should not have been said. It would not have mattered if I was 1000% right. I didn’t act in love. And once again, I found myself in the position of trying to defend myself. I was completely forgetting the example Jesus set for me when He stood before His accusers and never opened His mouth. This dear brother was set on crucifying me verbally, and I rose up in self-defense.
I apologized to him through his voicemail later (he wasn’t accepting my calls) and asked the Lord to forgive me, also.
We all know about Christians who refuse to fellowship with other believers, pointing to the Bible and feeling justified because they are “right” in their understanding of what the Word of God says. And all the while, people who haven’t been introduced to the gospel of Jesus Christ suffer and die. And the work to which they have been called doesn’t get done. And the devils laugh. And the Lord is grieved.
It’s time that the body of Christ start acting more like a body – working in harmony with one another, (even though we do not always agree about everything the Word has to say) – instead of fighting about whose theology is right and whose is not. It’s time to get over it! We have work to do!
I mean, aren’t you weary of all the fighting between the churches? What kind of example are we setting for the world? Why would anyone want to join our ‘club’ and become a follower of Christ when one of the biggest things we do in our meetings is beat up our own club members?
Do you wonder what God must think of us down here, acting like we have it all figured out instead of doing the work He has given us to do? (Matthew 29:19,20)
It must break His heart to see His children wasting so much time fighting about what clothes are appropriate to wear or whether or not makeup is acceptable, or if wearing jewelry will send you to hell. The list is endless, as the enemy has an endless supply of subjects to keep us in contention with one another. Yes, there are things we can’t mess with – like holiness, obeying Father, laying our lives down for Him and for one another…and the fact that Yeshua/Jesus came, lived a perfect and sinless life, gave us instructions, hung on a tree, died, paid for our sins, was resurrected, and is seated at the right hand of Father interceding for us. There are some things that are not debatable, but there are so many that are!
So the question is…what would Father want us to do in any given situation when conflict threatens to arise? A few things, I believe:
Ask Him for direction.
Say whatever you are supposed to say as directed by Father and do it in love!
Be quiet when He says to!
Listen (we may learn something!)
No monopolizing the conversation to prove your point.
No pride. (I know, I said this another way – remain humble. It always bears repeating!)
Remember that the person you are in conflict may be someone Father wants to see come into His kingdom. Your responses and the manner in which you speak, including your tone of voice and volume level can all be used to either draw them into a place of receiving your words in the moment, or perhaps reflecting on them later. And your words and attitude can also be used by the enemy to bring greater division, accusation, and a break in fellowship. Those words and that attitude of pride may also push them away from Father and His truth entirely.
When we crucify our brothers and sisters in Christ, verbally or otherwise, and we cut them off from association with us, can we honestly profess that we know and are surrendered to our Savior Yeshua/Jesus? Or do we need to recognize that we still have our own issues that need to be worked on and that once again, Father has proven to us that yes, Holy Spirit is real…and we aren’t Holy Spirit?!
Our greatest weapon in the body of Christ is to abide – to remain – in love. So Father is encouraging all of His children to move forward in the freedom that can be found and enjoyed when we refuse to judge with unrighteous judgement the actions and/or intentions of another brother or sister in Christ. The one thing that makes this possible is to keep our eyes off of ourselves and others, and to keep looking to and at our Father and the example of Yeshua when He walked the earth. Oftentimes – more often that we think – our love is greatest gift we can give to the one who may be stumbling in an area that only God can fix. So if we are focused on hearing Father, waiting on Him for His direction to us, then we will have much greater success of keeping the bonds of love between us.
How we respond to another in the body of Christ matters. I want to always be doing something that matters – to encourage, uplift, correct only when and as led by Holy Spirit, and always be a vessel of LOVE. So I am praying for all of us. We have incredible opportunities before us every day to be that ambassador, that vessel, that blessing in the lives of those around us. And with His glorious help, we can do something that matters!