A Message To The Unforgiving
Unfortunately, we often found ourselves lacking good servants in the church. Many times this is because of lack of teaching (discipling) or simply a lack of commitment by members of the body. Other times we have been guilty of 'disabling' many useful servants for the Lord simply by our lack of forgiveness. That is the subject that we are going to deal with in this message.
There are many talented, faithful Christians who are not permitted to use their talents in the Lord's Church, simply because their 'brothers and sisters' in the Lord refuse to forget their past. This would apply to the qualifications of the eldership (See "Qualified Church Leadership" link to the left.) as well as to many other areas of service.
"A MESSAGE TO THE UNFORGIVING"
Jim is a Christian. Jim is a member of the Church of Christ at Melon Creek. He leads a weekly Bible study, leads communion meditations, visits the sick and knocks on doors.
Very few people know about Jim's past. Before he moved to Melon Creek, he had been an alcoholic. There was never a day that went by that he didn't have an encounter with the bottle. He had endangered his health and had caused many times of sadness and grief to his family; a wife and two boys.
But then someone from the Christian Church there had cared enough to share the gospel with him. His friend told him that Jesus had died for his sins and would forgive him if only he would repent and obey the gospel that he had heard. Jim did obey the gospel, the biblical plan of salvation, and began his life of service to God.
He had been in Melon Creek for about three years now and his new life `in Christ' was going well.
One evening, Jim and some of his fellow workers stopped by the "Bar & Grill" for a sandwich after work. This wasn't anything unusual, as they had often done this. Jim's friends knew that he was a Christian, but would often give him a hard time and encourage him to 'have a drink' with them. He had always declined their offer, but for some reason, tonight he accepted. His friends were noticeably surprised when Jim ordered a beer, but after they had a few laughs the subject was forgotten. Everyone ate their meals and left soon after for their homes; that is, everyone but Jim. It was a full two hours and several drinks later when he decided to head home.
Jim knew, even in his drunken condition, that he had made a bad decision. But he thought to himself, “If I can just get home and go straight to bed, no one will ever know but my wife and I.” It wasn't going to be that easy.
Jim had scarcely gone a few blocks before he was pulled over by a police officer, who then arrested him and took him to the jail to spend the night. Jim was charged with DUI. It was in the local newspaper the next day.
He was ashamed of what he had done. He knew that he had embarrassed his family. He had brought shame upon the church. He had sinned before God!
Jim repented of his sin. I mean, he really repented. He prayed for God's forgiveness. He asked his family to forgive him. And of course they did. Then on Sunday morning, he walked up the aisle and made known to the congregation his repentance. He asked for their forgiveness, prayers and help. He was surprised, but encouraged by the kind words from many of the members of the congregation.
His wife and sons were proud of his even stronger relationship with God and noticed the time that he now spent in prayer and study. Even his close friends at work noticed his stronger stand for Jesus and they no longer encouraged him to do the things that he stood against.
Now I want you to see something. Please listen to the rest of this story.
You visit Melon Creek Church of Christ about three years later. Jim is still there. You immediately notice his kind demeanor and his love for the Lord Jesus Christ. But you might not have even noticed that he was there if you hadn't been sitting beside him.
You see, Jim isn't leading a weekly Bible Study anymore. He doesn't lead in communion meditations or even help to pass out the bread and cup. He doesn't lead in congregational prayer or knock on doors. The leaders of the congregation had asked Jim to “step down' from all of what they called `leadership roles' until they felt that he was prepared to serve again. Apparently, they felt the time had not come. In the meantime they told him to just “enjoy the break.”
Do you see anything wrong with this story? If not, I hope that you will before you finish.
In 1 Cor. 5, we read of a man in the Church of Christ at Corinth who was guilty of the sin of having 'an affair' with his father's wife. In plain English, he was guilty of fornication with his stepmother! Paul instructed the church at Corinth to put the man out of the church and not to associate with him, so that, as we read in verse 5, he may be delivered “to Satan for the destruction of his flesh, that his spirit may be saved in the day of the Lord Jesus.”
The church of Corinth took this action to bring the man to repentance. He was put out of the church, away from the fellowship of the Lord and His people, so that he would understand his need for repentance. It's not good to be away from the Lord!
If we were to turn to 2 Corinthians chapter two (and we will), we would find that this man was indeed brought to repentance. And there we also read Paul's instruction to the Church of Christ at Corinth concerning this matter. He tells them to forgive and accept this man as a brother.
Let's read verses 6-11, “Sufficient for such a one is this punishment which was inflicted by the majority, 7 so that on the contrary you should rather forgive and comfort him, lest somehow such a one be overwhelmed by excessive sorrow. 8 Wherefore I urge you to reaffirm your love for him. 9 For to this end also I wrote that I might put you to the test, whether you are obedient in all things. 10 But whom you forgive anything, I forgive also; for indeed what I have forgiven, if I have forgiven anything, I did it for your sakes in the presence of Christ, 11 in order that no advantage be taken of us by Satan; for we are not ignorant of his schemes.”
These are the inspired words given through the apostle Paul. The Corinthian Church accepted, if they obeyed Paul's instruction, this man into their fellowship, this man that God had already forgiven. He was to begin his service anew for the Lord. Now that's a story with a happy ending!
But, “Perhaps Paul didn't quite get all of it!” After all, it shouldn't be that easy for someone who has committed such a terrible sin to be again numbered with the saints. It shouldn't be that easy for this guy to start working alongside the members who had remained faithful!
Perhaps 2 Corinthians 2:6-11 should read like this:
“Insufficient for such a one is this punishment which was inflicted by the majority, so that in continuance of this act of discipline you should rather not yet allow him to serve with you, so that he might remain in his sorrow. Wherefore I urge you to reaffirm your act of punishment toward him. For to this end I wrote that you might put him to the test, to watch him for a year or two or more, until you think that he is obedient in all that you expect. But whom you forgive, or don't forgive, anything, I forgive, or don't forgive also; for if you and I decide to forgive anything, we did it for our sakes in the presence of Christ, in order that no advantage be taken of us by this man; for we are not ignorant of his schemes.”
Why don't we forgive those whom God has already forgiven!? When God adds someone who has been immersed into Christ to the church, do we accept his or her fellowship? Yes! I certainly hope so! When God has forgiven a repentant saint, we have no choice but to accept him or her as a fellow bondservant of the Lord! It should be a time of rejoicing, not a time of doubt and obstination!
Why do Christians demand that a repentant sinner prove himself to them BEFORE he or she can begin serving the Lord? Why do Christians constantly remind him or her of their sin? Paul says that in doing so we cause him excessive sorrow! There have been those who have repented and have been “accepted back into God's fellowship”, who we drive right back out into the world with our own 'stand-offish' brand of forgiveness which really isn't forgiveness at all!
Someone may say, “But you don't understand! You don't know what he did! He made our church look bad! He hurt others with his sin! He destroyed his witness!”
First, I might point out to one who reacts in this manner, that it's not 'our church,' it's Christ's church! And if a brother or sister has repented, Christ has forgiven him. Maybe he or she did hurt others in committing their sin, and perhaps they did harm their witness, but, if YOU are still brooding over whatever it was that they did, I say, “YOU don't understand! You don't understand what forgiveness is all about! It doesn't matter what he or she did if there has been repentance! Repentance will bring about fruit that will be a witness to the Lord Jesus Christ! Don't you interfere. Don't you stop him from serving the Lord. Love him and forgive him just as God loves and forgives you!”
When you repent of your sins before God (You do that everyday I hope.), do you expect God to put you on probation? No. You go right on serving the Lord. You had better! Hebrews 8:12 says, “For I will be merciful to their iniquities, And I will remember their sins no more." Why don't we at least TRY to forgive like God forgives?
Two elderly gentlemen were playing cards on Saturday
evening as they had done for the past 35 years. Bernie,
the older, had been having problems remembering what
cards were what, and usually needed help from his wife.
At the end of the card game Maury says to Bernie, "You
did very good tonight. You didn't need any help at all.
Why is that?"
Bernie replied, "Why ever since my wife sent me to that
memory school, I haven't had any problems at all."
"Memory school? What memory school?"
Bernie thought for a moment, "Oh, what's that flower that's
red with thorns? A really pretty flower? Romantic, ya, know?"
"Yeah... that's it!" Bernie turned and yelled to his wife,
"Hey, Rose! What's the name of that memory school you sent
Bernie had a memory problem, but maybe we have a memory problem too. When we seem to forget people's names, and forget the things that we need to do and a host of other things, but then we can't forget what someone did that offended us . . . . . When we don't really forgive, we have a problem too!
Matthew 6:14-15 says, "For if you forgive men for their transgressions, your heavenly Father will also forgive you. 15 "But if you do not forgive men, then your Father will not forgive your transgressions. Do you want to stand before God, an unforgiving servant?
Again, there are those who might say, “I forgive him. In spite of all that he's done, I really do forgive him; but I just think that he should not be able to serve until he's proven himself. In the meantime, we just need to be sure he's not going to do it again.”
Christians, just what passage of scripture does that come from? That kind of reasoning comes straight from the book of unforgiveness! Maybe he will do it again, but just maybe, with your help and encouragement, he won't. Does he want to serve the Lord? Allow him to serve right alongside of you! Do you really believe that he's going to grow stronger in the Lord sitting in the pew Sunday after Sunday awaiting your approval?
Hebrews 3:13 says, “But encourage one another day after day, as long as it is still called "Today," lest any one of you be hardened by the deceitfulness of sin.” Hebrews 10:24-25 reads, “and let us consider how to stimulate one another to love and good deeds, 25 not forsaking our own assembling together, as is the habit of some, but encouraging one another; and all the more, as you see the day drawing near.”
Is it really going to ENCOURAGE anyone's faithfulness if all eyes are upon them waiting for them to make another mistake? After all, what was the purpose of discipline to begin with? (1 Corinthians 5:5b) “that his spirit may be saved in the day of the Lord Jesus.”
And what did Jesus say in Luke 23:34? "Father, forgive them; for they do not know what they are doing."
Oh, how we need to seek the attitude of Jesus. How we need to seek the attitude of God. Romans 5:8 says, “But God demonstrates His own love toward us, in that while we were yet sinners, Christ died for us.” Christ died for us even before we repented. He shed His precious blood long before we ever knew Him. What love! What grace! When we accepted His love, His grace, His FORGIVENESS through the biblical plan of salvation, we didn't deserve any of it, but He loved us enough to forgive us anyway! And then we have the nerve not to forgive!
You say, “He doesn't deserve to be forgiven after what he did?” Maybe so, Maybe you're right. Forgive him anyway! Do you want what you deserve in eternity? I don't, and you know what else? I don't want to see others suffer that fate either. That's the reason that we share the gospel to begin with.
Matthew 18:15-17 is often used as a good reference for church discipline and it is. But what about Peter's question in verse 21 of the same chapter? (vs. 21-22) “Then Peter came and said to Him, "Lord, how often shall my brother sin against me and I forgive him? Up to seven times?" 22 Jesus said to him, "I do not say to you, up to seven times, but up to seventy times seven.”
Or what about the parable in verses 23-34? "For this reason the kingdom of heaven may be compared to a certain king who wished to settle accounts with his slaves. 24 "And when he had begun to settle them, there was brought to him one who owed him ten thousand talents. 25 "But since he did not have the means to repay, his lord commanded him to be sold, along with his wife and children and all that he had, and repayment to be made. 26 "The slave therefore falling down, prostrated himself before him, saying, 'Have patience with me, and I will repay you everything.' 27 "And the lord of that slave felt compassion and released him and forgave him the debt. 28 "But that slave went out and found one of his fellow slaves who owed him a hundred denarii; and he seized him and began to choke him, saying, 'Pay back what you owe.' 29 "So his fellow slave fell down and began to entreat him, saying, 'Have patience with me and I will repay you.' 30 "He was unwilling however, but went and threw him in prison until he should pay back what was owed. 31 "So when his fellow slaves saw what had happened, they were deeply grieved and came and reported to their lord all that had happened. 32 "Then summoning him, his lord said to him, 'You wicked slave, I forgave you all that debt because you entreated me. 33 'Should you not also have had mercy on your fellow slave, even as I had mercy on you?' 34 "And his lord, moved with anger, handed him over to the torturers until he should repay all that was owed him.” The parable ends here in verse 34, but Jesus explains the reason for the parable in verse 35,"So shall My heavenly Father also do to you, if each of you does not forgive his brother from your heart."
As we close our message, I have to tell you that Jim in our opening story was a fictitious person. . . . . . . or was he?
Do you forgive? Do you REALLY forgive? No strings attached. NO reminders. It's history, over, past tense…if one repents. That NEEDS to be our attitude. That needs to be the kind of forgiveness that we practice. Forgive from your heart!
Have you been forgiven? Have you accepted the magnificent grace of Jesus? If you haven't, you need to do that. Come to Jesus through faith in the Lord Jesus Christ and His Gospel (Rom. 10:17). Verbalize your faith. Confess Jesus as the Son of God (Rom. 10:9,10). Be immersed (baptized) in water to get 'into Christ' (Rom. 6:4f; Col. 2:12; Gal. 3:27: Acts 2:38) and there you will receive the blessing of forgiveness. You will receive the indwelling gift of the Holy Spirit, the Helper, and the Intercessor.
When you come up out of the water you will be a saint. You will be a member of Christ's kingdom, the church. Then you will begin your 'new life' in Jesus. And you will never be alone. Jesus will be with you and your fellow Christians will be with you.
No good reason to reject that kind of an invitation, is there?
Randy J. McClure as Presented At Milton Church of Christ
June 17th, 2001
WHAT ABOUT MY BROTHER?
In Genesis 4, God asked Cain as to the whereabouts of his brother Abel. Now it wasn't that God didn't know what had happened to Abel. He knew that Cain had murdered his brother. He knew that Cain had killed Abel because of jealousy. But God asked Cain anyway, "Where is Abel your brother?" (Gen 4:9b) NAS." What was Cain's answer? Do you remember? These were Cain's words; "I do not know. Am I my brother's keeper?" (Gen 4:9b) NAS
I ask you, "Are you your brother's keeper?" Do you believe that your brother or sister in Christ YOUR responsibility? If your answer is, "Yes," the next question is, "To what degree are you responsible?" "In what areas of your brother's life do you share a responsibility?"
You see, God has given all of us the capability to choose between good and evil. We were created that way. We have been created in the "image of God," and have the ability to choose right or wrong. My neighbor, when confronted with a choice, can choose good…or evil. My brother or sister in Christ can choose to obey God, or to disobey.
This implies something else as well. We can't make choices for other people. I can't make your choices for your, and you can't make my choices for me. Now for those of you that have children, especially children who are able to get out on their own some, that's a difficult fact to deal with. I don't think that I've ever seen the Christian parent of a teenager, or even the parent of a young adult who hasn't struggled with the realization that, "I can't make their decisions for them anymore!" "I can't make my grown daughter and her husband come to church!" "I can teach my 16-year-old son how to behave, but he's the one who is going to have to decide how he will behave at school, or at work. I just can't decide for him."
It's the same way with a brother or sister in Christ. We may be extra close to someone who is a Christian, but just doesn't make the right decision very much of the time; but you know what? We can't make their decisions for them. We will all make and be responsible for our own choices in life. Yes, there are those who seem to constantly be making the wrong choices. And we would like to do some of their choosing for them because we love them. You may be thinking of someone in that situation right now. But the truth is, someone may be thinking of you or me right now. Ultimately, we will all make our own decisions in our adult life.
"Well, then," you ask, "What can I do?" "If I'm my brother's keeper, there must be something that I can do." There is! There are some things that we can do. But remember that Colossians 3:17 says, "And WHATEVER you do in word or deed, do all in the name of the Lord Jesus, giving thanks through Him to God the Father." NAS
Let's begin by looking at a 'general' application, and later we will look at some more specific situations.
Two snakes were slithering along together in the grass. "Can I ask you a question?" the first snake says. "You and your questions! What is it this time?" replied the second snake. "Do you know whether or not we are venomous?" asked the first snake. "What difference should that make to us?" said the second. "It makes all the difference in the world to me," said the first snake. "I just bit my lip!"
Sometimes our brother or sister, like the snake, will ask for help. Other times, we will see the need for help. But it isn't always so easy. Not every situation is the same. Listen to the following examples:
"You know, Slim's a real good guy. I can't remember the last time that he wasn't here on Sunday morning. He's almost always here on Sunday night too. But he just won't come to the mid-week Bible Study. I wish that he would be just a little more faithful."
Or perhaps something like this, "Aileen is always here every time the door is open. I can't remember the last time that she missed a service. But neither can I remember the last time that she actually did anything like clean the church building or prepare the communion, or something. What is the matter with that woman anyway?"
First of all, we need to realize that people are never going to meet our expectations. So when we look upon a brother or sister, we must remember the words of Jesus in Matthew 7:1-5, "Do not judge lest you be judged. 2 "For in the way you judge, you will be judged; and by your standard of measure, it will be measured to you. 3 "And why do you look at the speck that is in your brother's eye, but do not notice the log that is in your own eye? 4 "Or how can you say to your brother, 'Let me take the speck out of your eye,' and behold, the log is in your own eye? 5 "You hypocrite, first take the log out of your own eye, and then you will see clearly to take the speck out of your brother's eye."
When we look upon our brother, let's make our judgments rightly. After all, we're going to be judged in the same way that we judge them. Do you meet the standard that you expect others to meet? More importantly, are you basing that judgment upon scripture, or upon your own convictions?
Now I have plenty of faults. And I won't open up that subject for a discussion. But I would like to believe that I am open to correction where my faults are concerned. I would like to believe that I could take a little constructive criticism once in a while. But I'm much less open to how someone thinks that I should behave. I'm not real likely to change my life because of an opinion that you have. And you're probably not going to be real receptive to any opinions that I have about how you should live your life either. So we need to base our judgment of one another upon the Word. Didn't Jesus say, "He who rejects Me, and does not receive My sayings, has one who judges him; the word I spoke is what will judge him at the last day." (John 12:48) (NAS)
Now let's take a few moments to discuss how we are to carry out our relationship with a brother or sister in Christ. How are we to handle our relationships with one another? How are we to deal with differences, and even obvious sin in the life of a brother or sister?
Jesus, in the Sermon on the Mount says, in Matthew 5:23-26, "If therefore you are presenting your offering at the altar, and there remember that your brother has something against you, 24 leave your offering there before the altar, and go your way; first be reconciled to your brother, and then come and present your offering. 25 "Make friends quickly with your opponent at law while you are with him on the way, in order that your opponent may not deliver you to the judge, and the judge to the officer, and you be thrown into prison. 26 "Truly I say to you, you shall not come out of there, until you have paid up the last cent." (NAS) Do you have a brother or sister whom you have offended? Do you a brother or sister that has offended you? You must be reconciled! Jesus says not to try to give God an offering (or a gift) when we haven't sought reconciliation with our brother. You see, if we can't give one another the gift of forgiveness, what can we give God that He would be please with?
Matthew 6:14-15 reads, "For if you forgive men for their transgressions, your heavenly Father will also forgive you. 15 "But if you do not forgive men, then your Father will not forgive your transgressions." (NAS)
One of the deadliest sins in the church is that of unforgiveness, hate and bitterness. James says, "But if you have bitter jealousy and selfish ambition in your heart, do not be arrogant and so lie against the truth. 15 This wisdom is not that which comes down from above, but is earthly, natural, demonic. 16 For where jealousy and selfish ambition exist, there is disorder and every evil thing. 17 But the wisdom from above is first pure, then peaceable, gentle, reasonable, full of mercy and good fruits, unwavering, without hypocrisy." (James 3:14-17) (NAS)
So if you have a difference with your brother, "Forgive one another." Paul, in Colossians, wrote and told us to forgive "each other, whoever has a complaint against anyone; just as the Lord forgave you, so also should you" (Col 3:13-14) (NAS). It's just as simple as that. "Forgive!" There is nothing more to be said concerning that matter. That's all there is to it! Forgive! Let's move on.
Another question related to forgiveness with one another is this, "If my brother and I haven't reconciled our differences, should I then abstain from taking communion on the Lord's Day until we do?" That has been a popular question in many a Bible class over the years. What should our answer be to the one asking this question?
My first thought is this, "Why did it take this person until Sunday to realize there was a problem? Where has their mind been all week?" If they had spent time in prayer, they would have certainly seen the need for reconciliation 'before' communion time on Sunday! As we have just read, God told us to be reconciled to our brother. He didn't say to be reconciled so that we could partake of communion. If we have some reconciling to do, we shouldn't procrastinate one day. We need to get it taken care of; not because of the Lord's Supper, but because God said that we must. Because forgiveness is part of our Christian character!
Secondly, when I hear someone ask the aforementioned question, I would simply like to ask him or her, "Do you have a humble and repentant heart? If so, you've surely repented and have been forgiven for your sin by this time. And this should be true with your brother as well (though you can't repent for him). Participate in the body and the blood of the Lord and tell your brother of your love for him and the Lord after the worship service. Besides. the Lord's Supper is not about what we bring to God, but it's about what He brought to us! But we won't deal with that here, as that isn't our topic of discussion. Forgive! Let's move on.
Perhaps you have a scriptural problem with your brother. HANDLE IT SCRIPTURALLY! If your brother's life is seen to be in direct disobedience to the Word of God, approach him with the Bible and gently, patiently, compassionately, show him his or her their error. Jesus says that , "if he listens to you, you have won your brother." (Matt. 18:15) NAS
Allow me just a moment to interject a thought here. There are some Christians who are not in their best environment correcting to an offended brother or sister in Christ. Some people are just not able to approach a brother or sister as well as someone else might. That's why Paul says in Gal 6:1a, "Brethren, even if a man is caught in any trespass, YOU WHO ARE SPIRITUAL, restore such a one in a spirit of gentleness." (NAS)
So if you see a brother or sister whose life is evidence of their unfaithfulness, don't hesitate to approach the "spiritual man." I didn't say, "Tell all of your friends and neighbors," like we often do. I didn't say, "Tell everyone else in the church," like we more frequently do. Tell the "spiritual." "Am I my brother's keeper?"
You see, when we notice a brother or sister is disobeying God, our motivation to correct them should be love and compassion. We are to snatch "them out of the fire; and on some have mercy with fear, hating even the garment polluted by the flesh," Jude 23 tells us (NAS). We must approach them with the Word of God. We want the word to 'enter their heart' so that repentance will be the result. Unfortunately many must think that the word is just for their heads, after all they beat them in the head with it until there is no hope of reaching them at all.
A woman approached the evangelist after the sermon, and thanked him for his message. "I found it so helpful," she said. The preacher replied, "I hope it will not prove as helpful as the last sermon you heard me preach." "Why, what do you mean?" asked the astonished woman. "Well," said the preacher, "The last sermon lasted you three months."
Well, this woman has an obvious problem with unfaithful attendance. But let's leave that one alone for now and take time to look at some other specific situations.
I've seen many a man and woman sit in a church auditorium and partake of the Lord's Supper who (I knew) was not living a Christian life. They were not, as the scriptures say, "performing deeds appropriate to repentance." (Acts 26:20) (NAS)
Is it my place to reprimand them for partaking the Lord's Supper in such a state? No, But it may well be my place to approach them with Bible in hand, concerning their unfaithful living. I DON'T WANT THEM TO REMAIN UNFAITHFUL! It's not my ego, or anger that motivates my action, but love and concern for the destiny of their eternal soul!
You see, too many of us pull out our imaginary notepads and keep records of one another's faults. We're just not going to forget what they've done. Well instead, we should come to the assembly prepared to forgive. "Someone will probably say something tonight that I won't like. But that's OK! I've ALREADY forgiven them! I'll forgive them and they won't even know it." Isn't that the way we should be?
Hasn't God supplied us with abundant forgiveness even before we've sinned? All I have to do is to have a faithful, humble and repentant heart and the blood of Jesus "continues" to cleanse me "from all unrighteousness." What a magnificent God we have that continues to forgive us as each time we repent!
Isn't that the way we should treat one another? After all, Heb 10:24-25 says, "let us consider how to stimulate one another to love and good deeds, 25 not forsaking our own assembling together, as is the habit of some, but encouraging one another; and all the more, as you see the day drawing near" (NAS). We come together to encourage one another, not to quarrel. And you know, we forget that sometimes. There have seen people attending church assemblies for various reasons, sometimes even the wrong reasons all of their lives. Some attend for the social setting or the activities, others for spiritual comfort, sometimes church leaders for notoriety, or often for other reasons. But we come together to worship our Lord and God, to remember Jesus His Son, and to encourage one another in our faithfulness!
WHAT ARE YOU GOING TO DO WITH YOUR BROTHER?
First, encourage him. Heb 3:13 says, "ENCOURAGE ONE ANOTHER day after day, as long as it is still called "Today," lest any one of you be hardened by the deceitfulness of sin." (NAS)
Second, Be patient with him. Eph 4:1-2, "I, therefore, the prisoner of the Lord, entreat you to walk in a manner worthy of the calling with which you have been called, 2 with all humility and gentleness, WITH PATIENCE, showing forbearance to one another in love," (NAS)
Thirdly, forgive him. Eph 4:32 reads, "And be kind to one another, tender-hearted, FORGIVING EACH OTHER, just as God in Christ also has forgiven you." (NAS)
Fourthly, help him. 1 Thess. 5:14, "And we urge you, brethren, admonish the unruly, encourage the fainthearted, HELP THE WEAK, be patient with all men." (NAS)
Fifthly, love him. 1 John 4:11, "Beloved, if God so loved us, we also ought to LOVE ONE ANOTHER." (NAS)
From time to time we need to be reminded by a brother or sister that we just aren't all that great! Sometimes we need to be reminded that we aren't near as lovable as we thought that we were. And that's good. We all need to be brought back to reality every now and then.
But we must also be careful how we deal with one another. Again, is my brother or sister doing something unscriptural, or is it something that "I believe" that they should or shouldn't be doing? If what they are doing does not contradict scripture, we must heed the words of Paul in Romans 14:22, "The faith which you have, have as YOUR OWN conviction before God." (NAS)
But if your brother or sister is in direct disobedience to the Word of God, attempt to teach them their error, or find someone spiritual to correct them, with the authority of the Word.
Paul said to do this with "a spirit of gentleness." Be patient, compassionate and kind, yet firm in truth. Again, the correct motivation is love. And it is not you that is doing the correcting, but rather the truth of God's Word that shines the light upon their sin!
And finally, if we truly love our brothers and sisters in Christ, we will spend far less time 'looking' for their faults and much more time encouraging them to be faithful in Christ.
After all, isn't that how God deals with His people? He could "zap" us over and over for the many things that we do wrong. But instead, He loves and forgives us. Why? Because He knows that is what we need.
In conclusion, we have people walking out of the doors of the Church of Christ and Christian Church every Sunday never to come back. Sometimes it's because they have been lured away by the world or some "contemporary congregation." Other times it's because of something someone has done or said. Whatever the reason may be; if we haven't made an attempt to show the love and forgiving nature of the church; if we haven't made an effort to seek their reconciliation to the Father… how are we going to answer the question, "Where is your brother?"
A farmer had some puppies he needed to sell. He painted a sign advertising the pups and set about nailing it to a post on the edge of his yard.
As he was driving the last nail into the post, he felt a tug on his overalls. He looked down into the eyes of a little boy.
"Mister," he said, "I want to buy one of your puppies."
"Well," said the farmer, as he rubbed the sweat off the back of his
neck, "these puppies come from fine parents and cost a good deal of money."
The boy dropped his head for a moment. Then reaching deep into his
pocket, he pulled out a handful of change and held it up to the farmer. "I've got thirty-nine cents. Is that enough to take a look?"
"Sure," said the farmer. And with that he let out a whistle, "Here,
Dolly!" he called. Out from the doghouse and down the ramp ran Dolly followed by four little balls of fur. The little boy pressed his face against the chain link fence. His eyes danced with delight.
As the dogs made their way to the fence, the little boy noticed
something else stirring inside the doghouse. Slowly another little ball appeared; this one noticeably smaller. Down the ramp it slid. Then in a somewhat awkward manner the little pup began hobbling toward the others, doing its best to catch up...."I want that one," the little boy said, pointing to the runt.
The farmer knelt down at the boy's side and said, "Son, you don't want that puppy. He will never be able to run and play with you like these other dogs would."
With that the little boy stepped back from the fence, reached down,
and began rolling up one leg of his trousers. In doing so he revealed a steel brace running down both sides of his leg attaching itself to a specially made shoe. Looking back up at the farmer, he said, "You see sir, I don't run too well myself, and he will need someone who understands."
Isn't that the way we are? I am so imperfect. . . and so are you. But we can help one another because we understand what it means to be less than perfect.. We understand that we need one another's help.
And it's even more so with God. He understands! We have a high priest who sympathizes with our weaknesses in Jesus Christ! If only we will allow Him to help us.
If you are a Christian, do you need help? Have you perhaps found yourself ignoring the Spirit's leading? Have you been disobeying your Lord? If so, all that you need to do is repent. Ask God to forgive you of your sins and He will. He said that He would! "If we confess our sins, He is faithful and righteous to forgive us our sins and to cleanse us from all unrighteousness." (1 John 1:9)
If you aren't a Christian, God knows what you need too! He sent Jesus to die upon the cross so that you might have life in His name! Repent of your sins and give up the ways of the world. Confess your faith in Jesus Christ, the Son of God. Be immersed for the forgiveness of sins and the indwelling gift of the Holy Spirit. Begin a life of service to God. Become a fellow heir with Jesus and His church, and receive richly the abundant the blessings of God the Father!
So, what are you waiting for? If you have a decision to make, make it now!