I therefore, a prisoner for the Lord, urge you to walk in a manner worthy of the calling to which you have been called, with all humility and gentleness, with patience, bearing with one another in love, eager to maintain the unity of the Spirit in the bond of peace.
Ephesians 4:1-3 ESV
I would ask, are we living as a prisoner for the Lord?
Are we seeking to honor Him or are we seeking to honor men?
Are we urging one another to walk in a manner worthy of our calling?
Are we standing against wickedness while being gentle and patient with each other, or have we chosen one or the other?
Are we eager to make war against our brothers and sisters – or are we maintaining a false peace because we have become lukewarm and complacent towards sin, worldliness, and wickedness?
I rest in a tension between the two sides that seems to me to be the narrow path that is rarely chosen. It is a path where we genuinely care enough about someone that we want to see them delivered from a life of sin, not just accept their life of sin. So we love them whether or not they are sinning, but we do not delight in their sins or make light of them.
Much of the world wants to justify their sin, even rejoice in it. I daily see people laughing and rejoicing together over their being law breakers. Laughing about putting others’ lives in danger with their careless attitude of entitlement to be able to consider the law as only a “suggestion”. And instead of joining in their public celebration and delight over their being lawbreakers, I am humbled, realizing that I set some of that example when I do things like ignore the speed limit myself. But I cannot join in their celebration or honor them for their wickedness, even if I too have been guilty myself. Instead, I ask the Lord to help me so that I might live a better example.
It would be easier to join in the laughter. It would be easier to honor those people’s rejoicing – but it would not be honoring to God, and that is more important. Aren’t we supposed to urge one another to walk in a manner worthy of our calling – not just be advocates of sin?
Also, it would be easier to point my finger at them and say, “Look how you celebrate wickedness, you are of your father the devil!” Than to examine myself and identify how I need to change to be a better example myself. Only after I’ve committed to change my own example can I speak on the subject from a place that is not ripe with hypocrisy. But I’m not meant to remain unchanged and I’m not meant to join in their celebration – I’m meant to repent, and to urge others towards a righteous life while maintaining peace and unity.
It is easy to maintain peace and unity if you are bringing a sugary sweet message that wickedness can be celebrated, because you will not have opposition from the carnal and the worldly. It is easy to maintain peace and unity if you bring a biting and condemning message that points a finger from a position of pride, because you will not have opposition from the religious and the self righteous. But to speak from the position that convicts both of these groups individually, this is how Christ brought Truth in Love.
Lord, you always teach us first with your message, if we are willing to listen and to change. Don’t let our hearts be hardened to either openly rebellious or self righteous ways. Set our feet on that path that makes both those groups uncomfortable that while we don’t walk in either of their camps, that we do not walk as their enemy, because we walk with their deliverer.
Deliver us from evil, Lord. Amen.