Daily Devotion for November 20, 2012 Christians Acting Ugly
"Jesus replied: 'Love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your mind.' This is the first and greatest commandment. And the second is like it: 'Love your neighbor as yourself.'" Matthew 22:37-39 (NIV)
Recently I was skimming some comments left on a social media outlet. Most were encouraging and kind. Some people had a different opinion but stayed civil in their expressions.
Then there was a third group. A much smaller but a very loud group.
Their opinions dripped with judgment, harshness, and condemnation. And the saddest thing of all? These were Christians attacking another Christian.
Honestly, I don't get it.
I just don't. As I read their comments it seemed as if they felt compelled to rip this person to shreds in order to prove their view. To show how knowledgeable they were and how off-base this other Christian was. Most disturbing of all, they felt it their duty to "protect God."
But God doesn't call man to protect Him. He calls us to love Him. And love others. Christians acting ugly and justifying it under the guise of holding another person in check isn't loving.
Matthew 22:36 says, "Teacher, which is the greatest commandment in the Law?"
"Jesus replied: 'Love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your mind.' This is the first and greatest commandment. And the second is like it: 'Love your neighbor as yourself.'" (Matt. 22:37-39 NIV)
Yes, there is a place to make sure others aren't misaligning Truth. But we must do this carefully and first make sure we aren't misaligning the Truth in our approach.
Our response must contain these three things: justice, mercy, and humility. "The LORD has told you, human, what is good; he has told you what he wants from you: to do what is right to other people, love being kind to others, and live humbly, obeying your God." (Micah 6:8 NCV)
I read this quote recently that reminded me of this powerful verse in Micah. "It is right to see justice prevail. But it is wrong when my ego gets in the way — when I retaliate to prove that I am strong, that I am superior to the other person, that I am the almighty righteous cop for God." (Bible commentary writer Michael J. Wilkins)
I guess I can feel a little sensitive about this subject because I've had some personal ministry friends attacked and accused in the most vicious of ways. And a little of this yuck has slipped into my world as well.
Maybe this third group sees these growing ministries and assumes their words won't affect their leaders. Or worse yet, because these ministries are growing maybe they hope their words will affect them. Either way, it hurts.
I know this isn't just an experience exclusive to leaders in ministry though. This can happen to any of us—in any walk of life. Whether you are hyper-critical of those around you, or you have experienced this hurtful criticism from a friend, family member, or co-worker, these words hurt everyone involved.
There isn't an easy solution to this problem. But if this devotion makes a few people stop and think before blasting someone, whether a ministry leader, a family leader, or friend — then it's good. And most of all, if it reminds me to do what is right to other people ... to love being kind to others ... and to live a little more humbly — it's really good.
Dear Lord, thank You for Your grace and patience everyday. Help me recognize when I become critical of those around me. I want to show Your love. In Jesus' Name, Amen.
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Reflect and Respond:
This week, when you are tempted to speak harsh or critical words to or about someone in your sphere of influence, or about a leader in your life, think about the 'greatest commandment.'
Are you loving your neighbor as you would like to be loved? If your answer is no, or contains a 'but,' try holding your tongue and remember, only the Lord can judge the heart of another man. And thank goodness, for He is just and loving.
Jeremiah 17:10, "I the Lord search the heart and examine the mind, to reward each person according to their conduct, according to what their deeds deserve." (NIV)
Ephesians 4:29, "Do not let any unwholesome talk come out of your mouths, but only what is helpful for building others up according to their needs, that it may benefit those who listen." (NIV)
James 1:26, "Those who consider themselves religious and yet do not keep a tight rein on their tongues deceive themselves, and their religion is worthless." (NIV)