In the world but not of it

February 5, 2010

Hold each other up…

Filed under: Uncategorized — In the world but not of it @ 5:00 am

Therefore I, a prisoner for serving the Lord, beg you to lead a life worthy of your calling, for you have been called by God. Always be humble and gentle. Be patient with each other, making allowance for each other’s faults because of your love. Make every effort to keep yourselves united in the Spirit, binding yourselves together with peace. Ephesians 4:1-3

In the early 1970’s Nobel Laureate Konrad Lorenz argued in his work titled “On Aggression” that man is the only species that regularly kills its own kind. Since that time it has been discovered that there are several animal species that do exactly the same thing for apparently many of the same reasons including survival and self-serving interests.

This is no surprise to the Christian. You can hardly get into the first few chapters of the Bible without seeing the classic story of Cain and Abel. Since the beginning of recorded history we see this side of man portrayed vividly as a warning sign to future generations, one that has been ignored.

But in the body of Christ, history tells the same story. It is masked differently since there are typically no physical murders or bloodshed (well, there have been some).

Rather it comes in the form of backbiting and gossip, criticism and control. In the name of God we justify the unkind things we say about each other. For the sake of prayer we justify gossiping about another’s problems and weakness.

Yes, we are masters at tearing down and spiritually killing our own. We want people to fit into our ideals and molds. We place expectations on others that even God Himself does not look to place on them.

When one of our own rebels or falls into sin we look to deepen the wound by talking about them rather than coming alongside to bring them the necessary encouragement and perhaps loving rebuke they need to get back on the narrow path.

All this and then we wonder why the church today is not thriving. What does Paul say in this verse above? He says several things but let me draw your attention to a very important phrase; “making allowance” or “forbearing”.

He tells us to make allowance for one another’s faults. This word means to “hold up” in the same way you might hold up a door from collapsing onto the person under it. It involves work and effort to ensure that you hold them upright and protect them from getting hurt.

You see, the responsibility on us to “hold each other up” is equally as great as the responsibility of those underneath to get right with the Lord and back on track.

Perhaps today you are justified in the criticisms and observations you have of others who claim to be Christians.  Maybe you have even tried speaking with them without success. Whatever the case, we need to bring those criticisms and concerns to Christ. He knows the full story…

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