Always be humble and gentle. Be patient with each other, making allowance for each other’s faults because of your love.
LOVE. This word floats around in our churches rather often these days but is frequently misunderstood. What is love? I would venture to say that our culture is more in tune with what love is not than what it is. We are fascinated with words and ideas but are much less interested in putting those words into action.
There is something troubling that is happening in more places than one. We are forfeiting true genuine love so we can feed our insatiable hunger for gossip and criticism. We are turning friends and family away because we can’t control our words. Our response to offense is to blame those in charge. If we are hurt by someone we immediately tell “our side” of the story. We repay offense for offense; gossip for gossip; pain for pain. If you are wondering how I know this, it is because I was the critic.
Several years ago I went through a critical spell. I was hurt and offended by friends and pastors. I found myself hating church for a while. Then I came into a process of healing. No pastor helped me. No organization helped me. God confronted my pain and offense and initiated a process of healing. How? He challenged me to pray for the ones who hurt me.
I called out the friends and leaders by name. I began praying that God would bless them and give them favor in every area of life. I prayed that God would restore those relationships and mend burned bridges. Guess what? He did. I actually had coffee with one of those friends about a month ago. It was absolutely refreshing to see God at work.
Criticism gives birth to destruction. It never satisfies the desire for justice. It only breeds confusion, pain and a temporary sense of victory. Jesus says, “If you only love those who love you, what is the reward for that? Even the wicked do that much (Matt. 5:40).”
This is not a new topic. Paul even addresses the issue in Romans 12:
Never pay back evil with more evil. Do things in such a way that everyone can see that you are honorable.
There is nothing Christian about the quiet whispers behind closed doors and the gnashing teeth that hide behind the Sunday smile. It’s time to start acting like the Church. Love those who hate you. Pray for those who hurt you. Remain silent when others talk behind your back. Wait in patience and allow the Lord to defend you. We don’t need more hate hiding in the darkness.
So what am I saying? LOVE covers a multitude of sin. It does not break apart, it binds. It does not hurt, it heals. It does not criticize, it gives hope. Love promotes life. What are you promoting?
Side Note: I’m still working on this one…cause I’m not perfect.