And not only this, but we also exult in our tribulations, knowing that tribulation brings about perseverance; and perseverance, proven character; and proven character, hope; and hope does not disappoint, because the love of God has been poured out within our hearts through the Holy Spirit who was given to us. For while we were still helpless, at the right time Christ died for the ungodly. (Rom 5:3-6)

Let not those who hope in you be put to shame through me, O Lord GOD of hosts; let not those who seek you be brought to dishonor through me, O God of Israel. (Psalm 69:6)

Tuesday, September 3, 2013

How are We Christians to Get Along When We have So Many Differences?

Below are the notes from our current study on Sunday nights at Ekron Baptist Church. Being the new pastor, and unaware of any squabbling, it is a good time to openly look over the biblical teaching of how to work out issues that will arise between each other. Not only is this applicable in the church body, it is a tool for use in the home.  Within the Kingdom of God let us build bridges, not walls.

Disagreements are not uncommon in a church body, they regularly occur.  But they do not have to be divisive.  Division is the goal of Satan.  Gossip is his mother tongue.  Satan seeks to destroy churches.  Often the most destructive work is done within.  The heart attitude of believers, or sometimes wolves in sheep’s clothing within the church, has killed many a ministry and church.  Remember Satan seeks to steal, kill, and destroy.

A church is a group of God’s children who are still battling sin through the sanctification process for the goal of being worshippers in spirit and in truth.  Inevitably, our sinful natures will produce friction.  Friction produces heat.  Heat makes a fire, and fire consumes and destroys.

Paul addressed this very issue in a letter to the Colossians.
            Here there is not Greek and Jew, circumcised and uncircumcised, barbarian, Scythian, slave, free; but Christ is all, and in all. Put on then, as God's chosen ones, holy and beloved, compassionate hearts, kindness, humility, meekness, and patience, bearing with one another and, if one has a complaint against another, forgiving each other; as the Lord has forgiven you, so you also must forgive. And above all these put on love, which binds everything together in perfect harmony. And let the peace of Christ rule in your hearts, to which indeed you were called in one body. And be thankful. Let the word of Christ dwell in you richly, teaching and admonishing one another in all wisdom, singing psalms and hymns and spiritual songs, with thankfulness in your hearts to God. And whatever you do, in word or deed, do everything in the name of the Lord Jesus, giving thanks to God the Father through him. (Col 3:11-17)

As we get into this study, think of those things that often cause disagreeance.
·         Personal Preference
·         Miscommunication/misunderstandings
·         Anger
·         Brooding/dwelling on the problems
·         Being defensive or easily offended
·         Our own sinful flesh
·         Being a Pharisee. (Remember, they were blind of their hypocrisies and traditions)
·         Pride of the self-demanding
·         Many many more issues can come between two sinful people.

Therefore, my brothers, whom I love and long for, my joy and crown, stand firm thus in the Lord, my beloved. I entreat Euodia and I entreat Syntyche to agree in the Lord. Yes, I ask you also, true companion, help these women, who have labored side by side with me in the gospel together with Clement and the rest of my fellow workers, whose names are in the book of life. (Php 4:1-3)

Mar_9:50  Salt is good, but if the salt has lost its saltiness, how will you make it salty again? Have salt in yourselves, and be at peace with one another."

1Th_5:13  and to esteem them very highly in love because of their work. Be at peace among yourselves.

And after some days Paul said to Barnabas, "Let us return and visit the brothers in every city where we proclaimed the word of the Lord, and see how they are." Now Barnabas wanted to take with them John called Mark. But Paul thought best not to take with them one who had withdrawn from them in Pamphylia and had not gone with them to the work. And there arose a sharp disagreement, so that they separated from each other. Barnabas took Mark with him and sailed away to Cyprus, but Paul chose Silas and departed, having been commended by the brothers to the grace of the Lord. And he went through Syria and Cilicia, strengthening the churches. (Act 15:36-41)
Here Paul and Barnabus no longer worked together.
Sharp Disagreement
paroxusmós; gen. paroxusmoú, masc. noun from paroxúnō (G3947), to stir up, provoke. In a good sense, a sharpening; used figuratively meaning an encouragement to some action or feeling (Heb_10:24). In a bad sense, a paroxysm, the stirring up of anger, sharp contention, angry dispute (Act_15:39; Sept.: Deu_29:28; Jer_32:37). The Eng. "paroxysm" is derived from it.

Paul would never have broken unity and have been able to carry on the work of a missionary.  We can conclude that the separation was a decision based upon strong beliefs, but that no love was lost between them.  They would have mutually agreed that their mission was different.  (However, we never hear from Barnabus again)
We later learn that Paul agrees to work with Mark,  Whatever the separation, it was temporary and not without love.
Col_4:10  Aristarchus my fellow prisoner greets you, and Mark the cousin of Barnabas (concerning whom you have received instructions--if he comes to you, welcome him),
2Ti_4:11  Luke alone is with me. Get Mark and bring him with you, for he is very useful to me for ministry.

Forgiveness is- agreeing to no longer hold the offense against a person, to never bring it up again unless it is constructive in helping the offender in a redemptive nature, and to not dwell upon the problem within one’s own heart.

Matthew 5
Any anger is in danger of endangering your own soul.  A Christian loves his brother and does not hate him at all (1 John 1).
For I tell you, unless your righteousness exceeds that of the scribes and Pharisees, you will never enter the kingdom of heaven. "You have heard that it was said to those of old, 'You shall not murder; and whoever murders will be liable to judgment.' But I say to you that everyone who is angry with his brother will be liable to judgment; whoever insults his brother will be liable to the council; and whoever says, 'You fool!' will be liable to the hell of fire. So if you are offering your gift at the altar and there remember that your brother has something against you, leave your gift there before the altar and go. First be reconciled to your brother, and then come and offer your gift. Come to terms quickly with your accuser while you are going with him to court, lest your accuser hand you over to the judge, and the judge to the guard, and you be put in prison. Truly, I say to you, you will never get out until you have paid the last penny. (Mat 5:20-26)
The righteousness of the Pharisees stopped at law and appearances, it never proceeded to apply grace.

If you ever utter, or even think, “you fool” or any other form of disrespect then you are in a situation much like Cain; (Gen 4:7)  If you do well, will you not be accepted? And if you do not do well, sin is crouching at the door. Its desire is for you, but you must rule over it."   To be angry with a fellow Christian is to be in opposition to God.   Whoever loves his brother abides in the light, and in him there is no cause for stumbling. But whoever hates his brother is in the darkness and walks in the darkness, and does not know where he is going, because the darkness has blinded his eyes. (1Jn 2:10-11)

You will never make everyone be at total peace with you. Rom_12:18  If possible, so far as it depends on you, live peaceably with all. In this however, you should always always be ready to forgive and be loving toward one another.  Efforts should be made to reconcile differences.

Matthew 6
Blessed are the peace makers
Forgive, and do not hypocritically put on a face of kindness when bitterness is within your heart.
but if you do not forgive others their trespasses, neither will your Father forgive your trespasses. "And when you fast, do not look gloomy like the hypocrites, for they disfigure their faces that their fasting may be seen by others. Truly, I say to you, they have received their reward. But when you fast, anoint your head and wash your face, that your fasting may not be seen by others but by your Father who is in secret. And your Father who sees in secret will reward you. (Mat 6:15-18)

We must be absolutely careful in judging situations.  Often our own sin blinds us from seeing clearly the situation at hand.  If we are to be in righteous anger, we will also have a right heart attitude.
"Judge not, that you be not judged. For with the judgment you pronounce you will be judged, and with the measure you use it will be measured to you. Why do you see the speck that is in your brother's eye, but do not notice the log that is in your own eye? Or how can you say to your brother, 'Let me take the speck out of your eye,' when there is the log in your own eye? 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. (Mat 7:1-5)
Psa_4:4  Be angry, and do not sin; ponder in your own hearts on your beds, and be silent. Selah
Eph_4:26  Be angry and do not sin; do not let the sun go down on your anger,

Overlook an offense
            Pro_19:11  Good sense makes one slow to anger, and it is his glory to overlook an offense.
            Then Peter came up and said to him, "Lord, how often will my brother sin against me, and I forgive him? As many as seven times?" Jesus said to him, "I do not say to you seven times, but seventy times seven. (Mat 18:21-22)
            Mar_11:25  And whenever you stand praying, forgive, if you have anything against anyone, so that your Father also who is in heaven may forgive you your trespasses."
            Joh_20:23  If you forgive the sins of any, they are forgiven them; if you withhold forgiveness from any, it is withheld."

Do not make a big deal out of something, and yet fail to love. Do not neglect to show love over inconvenience. Loving a personal comfort over another person is a form of idolatry.
            Luk_11:42  "But woe to you Pharisees! For you tithe mint and rue and every herb, and neglect justice and the love of God. These you ought to have done, without neglecting the others.
Heb_13:2  Do not neglect to show hospitality to strangers, for thereby some have entertained angels unawares.
Heb_13:16  Do not neglect to do good and to share what you have, for such sacrifices are pleasing to God.

If it is sin, go to your brother.
            There is a biblical way to deal with sin in another person.  Mind you, this is dealing with sin and not personal preferences.  Too often personal preferences have led to sin and this has destroyed churches.
"If your brother sins against you, go and tell him his fault, between you and him alone. If he listens to you, you have gained your brother. But if he does not listen, take one or two others along with you, that every charge may be established by the evidence of two or three witnesses. If he refuses to listen to them, tell it to the church. And if he refuses to listen even to the church, let him be to you as a Gentile and a tax collector. (Mat 18:15-17)
Paul even had to give some folks over for church discipline.
            1Co_5:5  I have decided to deliver such a one to Satan for the destruction of his flesh, so that his spirit may be saved in the day of the Lord Jesus.
1Ti_1:20  Among these are Hymenaeus and Alexander, whom I have handed over to Satan, so that they will be taught not to blaspheme.

Remember, the objective of church discipline is ultimately restoration.
Gal_6:1  Brothers, if anyone is caught in any transgression, you who are spiritual should restore him in a spirit of gentleness. Keep watch on yourself, lest you too be tempted.

Now if anyone has caused pain, he has caused it not to me, but in some measure--not to put it too severely--to all of you. For such a one, this punishment by the majority is enough, so you should rather turn to forgive and comfort him, or he may be overwhelmed by excessive sorrow. So I beg you to reaffirm your love for him. (2Co 2:5-8)

As much as depends on us, let us never be the cause for someone else to stumble in the faith.
And he said to his disciples, "Temptations to sin are sure to come, but woe to the one through whom they come! It would be better for him if a millstone were hung around his neck and he were cast into the sea than that he should cause one of these little ones to sin. Pay attention to yourselves! If your brother sins, rebuke him, and if he repents, forgive him, and if he sins against you seven times in the day, and turns to you seven times, saying, 'I repent,' you must forgive him." The apostles said to the Lord, "Increase our faith!" (Luk 17:1-5)

Overall there are two simple laws to follow when it comes to encountering people with differences.
Luk_10:27  And he answered, "You shall love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your strength and with all your mind, and your neighbor as yourself."