Saturday, April 22, 2006

Exhortation-Love

It is sad that in the kingdom of God there is so much sin driven by the companion sins of covetousness and envy. We are called to live together in unity, preferring our brothers above ourselves. We are explicitly told by Jesus, Paul, Peter, James and other New Testament writers to esteem others above ourselves, to love the brethren, to pursue peace. But we have a hard-dying tendency to not do this. We tend to cloke our sins in pretended holy concern for others, when in fact, it is often driven by a more unholy zeal to have God’s heavy hand fall upon them. Lord, shall we call down fire?

When God blesses our brethren, in any manner, physically, spiritually, or financially, our tendency is to wonder why it didn’t happen to us. To wonder is not a bad thing. That wondering may just find an answer. The answer may be your own sin, particularly in the area of always wanting someone else’s blessing. If you get that answer and recognize it for what it is, then well and good. Confess and repent. We all deal with this and it the means of our sanctification as well as the sanctification of the body. But if that wondering spills over into discontentment and jealousy, the resultant sin is both pernicious in, and dangerous to, the body of Christ. And this is much too often the case.

The result of our lives together in Christ should be unity. This comes about because our primary duty is to love one another. Jesus said that if we do this, we are His disciples indeed. Of course, we do this in outward duties, meals, helping with a building project, counsel, friendship, the breaking of bread at the Lord’s Table and at your tables. But there is another aspect of our lives together that we do not spend enough time examining and refining. And that is how we view and speak about others. Is it your tendency to complain about others, thinking that they are not worthy of the blessings that they have received? I am referring to the way that you speak of others in this church as well as with those other parts of Christ’s body that do not worship with us here or in our denomination or sector of Christianity. Why has God blessed them, we wonder, when WE have all the right truth? Oh? And what about the truth of thinking too highly of oneself? Have we got that one down, too?

It may be true that your brother in this church or in the church at large is in sin. If that sin is the kind that is likely to be his downfall, and you find that you simply MUST speak about it to somebody, then it is your Christian duty to speak about it to him. I make one exception to this rule. If you are truly seeking counsel about how to deal with this brother or sister and their sin, then it is not sin to discuss it with a person that can actually help. I would make a really short list of who these discussions are allowed to be with. Your husband or wife, parents, the pastor or the elders. Other than that, the desire to talk to others about it is not so much for the purpose of finding a solution but rather to hear yourself talk, especially when you get to talk from a standpoint of superiority.

If their sin is not the kind that you must confront, if it is a foible, a quirk, a shallow weakness, then your duty is to love them through it. Don’t get on your high horse. Don’t complain about them to your husband or wife. Don’t discount God’s blessings upon them. Don’t build yourself up by bringing them down. Don’t feel the need to discuss their shortcomings with others, even the short list given above. Don’t justify your sin in mock protestations about ‘concern’ for them. Learn to love them, in spite of their foibles.

The bottom line in all of this is to be busy about our own callings and duties without being busybodies about other people’s callings and duties. Don’t you have enough to do already? If you do your duties well, perhaps God will give you the grace and opportunity to serve, truly serve, your brother or sister that you have been busy criticizing for all these months and years. If that were done, perhaps their particular besetting sin, that seems to beset you as much as them, will not be such a stumbling block to you. Love covers a multitude of sins. Let us learn to love.

1 comment:

Conrad said...

Hi, Virgil.

I'm not sure what your email address is, but I just found your blog. I tried sending you an email using your link on the CREC website and it came back undeliverable. Do you still use vrhurt@att.net?