Grace. Where would we all be without it? In a painful world I can only hope that the Christ in me extends that grace just a bit. No. . .alot. Grace. I am learning that nothing can come against us without God allowing it. Nothing. He has too tight a grip on us to lose grasp & see us hurt. With this comforting thought in mind remember; it is all from Him. To shape us--to rid us of ugliness (because He knows we are ugly when we've been hurt) --to show us His face. His face is the face of love. He is love. Not only is God Himself love but the greatest commandment is love. The highest commandment. Love you neighbor as yourself. Love your enemies. Brethren if we do not have love we are nothing.
"For now we see through a glass, darkly; but then face to face: now I know in part; but then shall I know even as also I am known.
And now abides faith, hope, charity, these three; but the greatest is charity." 1 Cor. 13:12-13.
Friends, we can preach to others till we're blue in the face. We can use our sword (the Word) to stab & slaughter other Christians. We can argue theology even at the cost of searing our brothers & sisters in Christ.We can even feel like we're doing God a favor by all this but in reality God does not need our help. He can defend His word. After all, He is the word. And He is love. Remember the greatest act is love. You love even when you feel someone is wrong, you love even when people are spiteful, you love when you have felt betrayed, you love, you love, you love. It is all merely from the Lord's hand anyways---pass the test friends. Extend grace, learn to be quiet, and learn to allow God to fill your hearts & minds with love.
"He was lead as lamb to the slaughter; and like a lamb dumb before his shearer, so opened he not His mouth." acts 8:32
How silly it must look to the Lord when brothers & sisters are having scripture fights; almost like food fights. What is the point? Do we expect the other to come out clean? And not only that but do we expect to escape looking as foolish as they are? Is God searching our head knowledge or our hearts? Do we really expect to convince the other that our food is better than his by throwing it at him?
In the context of all this I ask that you read Romans 14. After two days of long, intense prayer this is what God kept giving me through out the word. Romans 14 sums the majority of it up. This chapter, along with other verses tells me that we will not all be doing the exact same things but to not judge, it is God's place. It tells me plainly that our highest calling is not to be so caught up in what others are doing that we take on the burden of fixing our brothers & sisters. Brothers & sisters, I repeat. Leave God's work to God and fulfill the law by loving one another. Leave people's hearts & testimonies to the Lord. Most likely we are pulling at a plank that's also in our own eye. We are not called to fix everything--each person must walk before the lord & stand before Him one day on His own account. We can breathe. And love.
With this in mind I also say that 1 Cor. 8 coincides with Romans 14.
I opened my devotion book up this morning & here is what it said (tell me that this is not crazy considering I sat up & read 1 cor.13 the nite before. God is faithful.)
* We pray for gentleness, and there comes a perfect storm of temptation to harshness & irritability. We pray for quietness, and every nerve is strung to the utmost tension, so that looking to Him we may learn that when He giveth quietness, no one can make trouble. We pray for love, and God sends peculiar suffering & puts us with apparently unlovely people, and lets them say things which rasp the nerves & lacerate the heart; for love suffereth long & is kind, love is not impolite, love is not provoked. Love beareth all things, believeth, hopeth, & endureth, love never faileth. We pray for likeness to Jesus, and the answer is "I have chosen you in the furnace of affliction. Can thine heart endure it? or can thine hands be strong?" The way to peace & victory is to accept that every circumstance & trial is straight from the hand of the loving Father; and to live up in the heavenly places, above the clouds, in the very presence of the throne, and to look down from the Glory upon our environment as lovingly & divinely appointed."--streams in the desert.
In closing (yes, I sounded like a pastor) I ask this one thing; when you see yourself standing before the Lord someday do you see Him saying 'well done thou good & faithful servant' because you argued a good point with the brethren who u were convinced had it wrong or do you see Him saying that because you loved unconditionally? In which point would He see more of Himself? The word is to edify, not to condemn. Condemnation gets no one anywhere except pushing our brothers & sisters to the ground. What purpose does that serve? Let me also clarify that there is a grave difference in condemnation & conviction. We do not have the power or authority to convict someone. Only God convicts the hearts of His people. And it's His kindess that leads us to repentence. Our only power to persuade others is through prayer & love. The sword is entrusted to you by God for good--do not kill others with it but first pierce it in your own heart so that when it is time to fight love will bleed out.