I have had this post on my heart for several weeks. I had originally planned for this to be a video post, but I have to “get ready” for one of those. I simply can’t bring myself to make a video in my make shift pajamas, puffy eyes, and bed head before I have had at least two cups of coffee in me. This early morning time is usually the only time that I am not on the go so opportunities for a live video are slim with me. Then yesterday, when I was reading in the book of Job as I waited on one of my girls to check out some research material from our public library, I was reminded again of this being on my heart…
The verse in Job that I read was:
He who withholds kindness from a friend
forsakes the fear of the Almighty.
Job 6:14, ESV
Kindness. It’s a simple thing. Yet it appears to be so difficult for us to put into action. It’s difficult because it is an attribute of God. It is a fruit of the Spirit of God. This is why God does not simply recommend it, but demands it of His children.
He has told you, O man, what is good; And what does the Lord require of you But to do justice, to love kindness, And to walk humbly with your God?
Micah 6:8, NASB
A little more than a month ago I got blindsided by a question like accusation that came out of left field. I was taking a friend to meet someone and drop off some information about Proven Path and our women’s conference Relentless. This person looked at us both and asked, “Are you Genesis people?” We just looked at one another not really sure what they were asking. I reminded this person that I had written a book on Genesis and we both responded that if they meant did we believe the book of Genesis, then yes we were “Genesis people”. This person went on to question us about the new Ark exhibit at the Creation museum because they were very concerned about the dinosaurs and the age of the earth and they shared how they refused to even go see this exhibit because the whole thing was crazy.
Let me remind you this person professes to be a Christian. Therefore, in that moment I had a choice to make. I could begin an argument or I could choose kindness.
I chose to grab this person’s hand and look them in the eye and say, “Do you believe that Jesus Christ is the Son of God and that He came to this earth born of virgin, that He died on the cross for our sins, was buried, and rose again on the third day and it is only through Him that we can be saved.” They said, “Well yes!”. I then said, “Then that’s all that matters. None of this other stuff is a deal breaker with God.” She looked at me, then said, “But for some people it is.” I said, “I know.” At that moment peace was restored and we left with smiles and see you next times and talk to you soons.
Then just a few weeks after this encounter I had another. Our family was visiting at a church that is not of our denomination. I do not know if the one preaching knew the denomination that we attended or not, but apparently within his message of sharing he talked about another pastor that he met with regularly that others questioned why he did so. He claimed he met with him, because all he could do was teach the guy and hopefully one day he would learn.
The preacher he was meeting with was of our denomination. Several years ago, I would have awakened to this conversation and would have jumped to the defense with Scripture upon Scripture. However, somehow God chose for this comment to sail right over my head. My children said they held their breath waiting on me to say something, but I never even knew he said it until the ride home.
I have had to stop reading several bloggers that I used to enjoy because I am saddened by the amount of sarcasm and the lack of kindness. Please know that I am very much aware that if you were to scroll through the earlier years of my blogging days you would find posts that could be seen as unkind. I have been the “unkind” Christian who just so wanted you to know my Jesus that I became frustrated and irritating when I couldn’t get you to see and believe what I wanted you to see and believe. This was wrong of me and I have prayed that the Lord would forgive me and redeem my sad attempt and immaturity and bring those individuals that I possibly could have scared away to salvation in spite of me.
In 1 Corinthians 4:6 Paul writes,
that you may learn by us not to go beyond what is written, that none of you maybe puffed up in favor of one against another.
Most of our denominational differences is due to us going beyond what it is written. We actually think we have been given some special insight and it is our mission from God to make sure that everyone else sees it the way we do. We can become quite nasty and forceful with this mission and will even disassociate ourselves from anyone that we cannot convince to see things our way.
I have learned that most of the time it is better to be kind than proven right. When being right becomes more important than the relationship, or potential for relationship, then we are walking on dangerous ground. Even, and especially when, we are talking with someone who is not simply of a different denomination but a completely different faith. The gospel is here because of a pursued relationship and it continues because of relationships. We are supposed to be ministers of reconciliation not confrontation. No one has ever been quarreled to Christ.
In Proverbs 20:3 read,
It is an honor for a man to keep aloof from strife,
but every fool will be quarreling.
We look like fools to the world when we as brothers and sisters in Christ argue with one another. What does it say about us to a watching world if we are willing to destroy one another over things that are temporary.
Do not, for the sake of food, destroy the work of God.
Have you ever been at a family’s gathering, and you were not a member of this family, and then the family begins arguing with one another over something that you know nothing about and are not a part of? How did it make you feel? How did it affect the way you saw them? Did it make you want to come back and visit again?
When I read the Scriptures there are things that are clear as crystal to me and then there are things that are clear as mud. There are things that I thought I understood perfectly and then God opened my eyes and I realized that due to my own personal environment and perspective I was missing something beautiful that when it was shared with me from someone who saw it through a different eye I was finally able to see. However, had I not been willing to listen to their perspective I would have missed it completely.
In the book of 2 Chronicles we read of King Uzziah. Uzziah was a good king. He loved the Lord and walked in His ways and the Lord blessed him because of it. Then in his blessings he became arrogant.
But when he became strong, his heart was so proud that he acted corruptly, and he was unfaithful to the Lord his God, for he entered the temple of the Lord to burn incense on the altar of incense.
2 Chronicles 26:16
Uzziah grew strong and he left kindness at the door. He quit listening to others who were serving the same Lord and decided that he had the direct line to God and everyone else and their knowledge and voice was invalid. He would not listen to the correction of the priests.
But Uzziah, with a censer in his hand for burning incense, was enraged…
2 Chronicles 26:19
Beloved, there is a problem with our hearts when we become enraged with one another. The Scripture is quite clear that those who are walking in the Spirit are exhibiting love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness, self-control (Galatians 5:22-23). So if something said or done has led us to check any of those off at the door then there is a problem. The problem is usually our own pride.
If the majority of our religious conversations is to prove our interpretation and denominations doctrinal stance over another’s then we are way off base from what Jesus commanded us to do and we have lost focus of our calling.
A new commandment I give to you, that you love one another, even as I have loved you, that you also love one another. By this all men will know that you are My disciples, if you have love for one another.
We have a hurting and dying world at our fingertips that needs the gospel. It was the kindness of God that brought us to repentance not someone proving their denominational stance. When Paul was discipling Timothy he said,
I write so that you will know how one ought to conduct himself in the household of God, which is the church of the living God, the pillar and support of the truth. By common confession, great is the mystery of godliness:
He who was revealed in the flesh,
Was vindicated in the Spirit,
Seen by angels,
Proclaimed among the nations,
Believed on in the world,
Taken up in glory.
1 Timothy 3:15-16
Paul also sat down in counsel with the early apostles as they sought the guidance of the Lord as to what they needed to require of those who believed the gospel and were coming from a non-Biblical background and in the book of Acts we read,
“For it seemed good to the Holy Spirit and to us to lay upon you no greater burden than these essentials: that you abstain from things sacrificed to idols and from blood and from things strangled and from fornication; if you keep yourselves free from such things, you will do well. Farewell.”
I read some comments on blogs and I cringe. I read them and I know that if that thread of commentary was the only piece of Christian interaction that I ever experienced, I would not want to be a Christian. This is not how we are to represent Christ to the world.
Let us not be guilty of laying burdens on others that the Holy Spirit did not lay. Let us not become guilty of becoming so arrogant that we refuse to listen to others. Let us not become guilty of being unkind simply because someone does not agree with us. Let us not become guilty of being a stumbling block for the gospel because we are quarreling with one another.
God doesn’t need us to fight for Him. The Holy Spirit is perfectly capable of convicting a soul. Jesus didn’t ask us to make converts. He asked us to make disciples.
So then we pursue the things which make for peace and the building up of one another.
Therefore, precious one, always stay humble and kind because Jesus said that we would be known as His disciples by our love for one another.