Barnabas Bulletin ~ 0180
We live in a rapidly changing world. This is especially challenging to Holy Spirit-filled Christians who seek to please the Lord from day-to-day. Even in Christian circles there have been major changes in the way things are done, church services are run, etc. For those who have been Christians for 40 years or more, it seems that the current generation of Christians have a very different conviction of what is right or what is wrong for Christians than we were taught. Then there is the criticism and opposition that those who are doing the will of God get from other Christians. All these things test our re-actions. As Christians we discover that it is not always easy to “turn the other cheek.”
People are responsible before God for the decisions they make in their lives ~ we are responsible before God as to the way we re-act to their decisions; especially those decisions we do not agree with. As I was thinking about these things one day, I felt the Lord speak to me and say, “Rodney, you have to watch your re-actions. You need to be careful that your re-actions to others are not as bad as what you perceive they have done, or are doing.” That really challenged me, and caused me to re-consider a lot of my re-actions that I felt toward people that I believed had made some wrong decisions, or were not living right according to the Scriptures. Those words that I believe God spoke to me have helped me to have a much better attitude toward those people.
This subject also challenges us to be quick to practice forgiveness toward others, especially when they disagree with our decisions, or they re-act negatively to our words of caution with regards decisions they have made and which cause us concern. So many people ~ Christian and otherwise ~ finish up far worse off in life when they cannot forgive and then hold grudges against others. We all face these experiences and challenges, and we simply cannot afford to go through life holding things against others that we do not agree with. We must keep our hearts and attitudes right toward God ~ and others ~ if we want to keep on progressing in our walk with Jesus and the power of His Holy Spirit.
There is a principle that “we reap what we sow”. That principle applies to every person, whether Christian or non-Christian:
“Do not be deceived, God is not mocked; for whatever a man sows, that he will also reap. For he who sows to his flesh will of the flesh reap corruption, but he who sows to the Spirit will of the Spirit reap everlasting life. And let us not grow weary while doing good, for in due season we shall reap if we do not lose heart. Therefore, as we have opportunity, let us do good to all, especially to those who are of the household of faith” (Galatians 6:7-10, NKJV).
In the Book of Esther we have the story of a man called Haman who re-acted negatively against Mordecai, a righteous and God-fearing man. Instead of dealing with his problem Haman allowed it to fester in his heart day after day; to the point where he wanted to get rid of Mordecai. When his family suggested to him to build a gallows and get Mordecai hanged on it, Haman quickly built the gallows and then plotted how to get Mordecai killed by that means. What Haman did not know was that God was keeping watch on those proceedings, and God was working to protect Mordecai from Haman’s sinister desire. The whole plot back-fired on Haman and he finished up being the person who was hanged on his own gallows. Mordecai was promoted to high honour in the land!
In Genesis Chapters 37 to 50 we have the account of a man called Joseph. At a young age God gave him a dream of what was going to take place in the future. Joseph in his youthfulness and zeal spoke the dream out about him ruling over his brothers. Those brothers re-acted in a negative way and set about “to put him in his place and to prove his dream wrong”. Instead of being gracious and loving toward Joseph, they plotted and sold him to strangers. After that they believed that would be the last they would see or hear from Joseph. They even lied to Joseph’s father, making him believe that Joseph had been killed by a wild animal. But God had plans for his Joseph. He had been sold into Egypt as a slave. There he was wrongly accused of a sexual sin and finished up in prison. From there God delivered him as a result of his interpreting Pharaoh’s dream about a seven year famine, and he was soon governor over all Egypt (Genesis 41). After some time, Joseph’s brothers were sent to Egypt to buy food because the famine was so severe. On their second visit Joseph made himself known to them. They were absolutely amazed to discover that Joseph was still alive and that, in fact, his dream as a young man had now come to pass. As you read through the account of Joseph and his brothers, you can see that they all carried guilty consciences as to what they had done to Joseph. If only they had dealt with their negative re-actions to him right at the start they would have saved themselves so much anxiety, stress and worry. Joseph forgave them and looked after them very graciously.
In Luke 10:38-42 we have the account of Martha and Mary. Martha, it seems, was a bit of a “worker-holic”: all the time work, work, work. She re-acted negatively against her sister Mary for sitting at Jesus’ feet and listening to His teachings “when she should have been helping Martha” with her work! When Martha complained to Jesus about Mary, Jesus told her that Mary had chosen the good part; that Mary had got her priorities right. Martha’s attitude gave her a negative re-action against her sister.
The above Scriptural illustrations teach us that we have to carefully watch the way we re-act to other people, especially when they say and do things that we think are wrong. Christians are called of God to be an example to others of the wonderful work of grace that Jesus has accomplished within our hearts and lives. We cannot afford to let negative re-actions rob us of a good relationship with Jesus, nor with those people who do not say or do things the way we think they ought. We all have the freedom of choice. Others are answerable to God for the choices they make in life; and we are responsible to God for the choices we make in life. Where we disagree with others we should let “the love of Christ compel (“constrain”) us” (2 Corinthians 5:14, NKJV). May we all be of those who re-act rightly to others. God bless you ~ Rodney W. Francis.
Prayer: “Dear Lord, I come to You in Jesus’ mighty name, and I ask You to help me to guard my re-actions toward other people, especially when I do not agree with what they have decided. Help me to be that example that You want me to be, and help me to lay aside everything that would hinder me from glorifying You. Please deliver me from every negative re-action that I may hold against others, and help me to release them unto you. Set me free from every one of them! Thank You, Lord. In Jesus’ Name I pray these things, Amen.”