I've been running a "Why?" series for devotionals because of questions I've been asked over the past few years. I hope they have been helpful, but I certainly don't expect them to give the answers to end all questions. These answers were meant to help you dig deeper into God's word to find more of what you seek. This is the last one.
Main Passage: Romans 7:1-6
Secondary Passages: Luke 6:36-38 NLT
“Do not judge others, and you will not be judged. Do not condemn others, or it will all come back against you. Forgive others, and you will be forgiven. Give, and you will receive. Your gift will return to you in full—pressed down, shaken together to make room for more, running over, and poured into your lap. The amount you give will determine the amount you get back.”
Since God chose you to be the holy people he loves, you must clothe yourselves with tenderhearted mercy, kindness, humility, gentleness, and patience. Make allowance for each other’s faults, and forgive anyone who offends you. Remember, the Lord forgave you, so you must forgive others. Above all, clothe yourselves with love, which binds us all together in perfect harmony.
A long time ago, I stopped putting Christian bumper stickers on my car. A sudden realization came to me when I accidentally cut someone off in traffic one day-- I just made Jesus look bad. I love the Lord and serve Him daily, but at that moment, I didn't act like it to the driver who was swearing and shaking his fist in the car behind me. It was an accident, but it rose out of a selfish desire to get where I wanted to go without taking a better look in my rear view mirror. Even though we are forgiven of our sins when we accept Jesus as our Savior, we still sin. Christians aren't perfect people, but we are held to a higher standard. So, why do some Christians behave badly?
We are forgiven, but we aren't perfect. There are reasons, but not excuses by any stretch of the imagination. When we accept Jesus as Savior, a change happens in our lives, but there is a life-long process of change we go through. Jesus was the only One who is perfect. If you want to see His life in action, look in the books of Matthew, Mark, Luke, and John. We are to be a light in this world by showing Jesus to people everywhere we go (Matthew 5:16). When we realize we've sinned, it's important to repent (stop doing that sin) and ask for forgiveness. Doing so could be a big life-changer for someone around us.
Some of us can be just plain mean because we are afraid of something. Some of us don't realize the painful buttons we have that people accidentally push. We are afraid of being hurt, being wrong, losing control, whatever. It scares us and we react. Jesus said that perfect love casts out fear (1 John 4:18), but some Christians don't know they have fear to begin with.The skeletons in some people's family closets haunt even those who follow Christ. Once we discover what those issues are, then we can give those painful things over to the Lord and find peace.
Even "perfect' Christians aren't so perfect. If you could take an angel's viewpoint of us, you would see that even the most saintly lose their tempers, say hurtful words, and commit many other "lesser" sins. The angels who approach the throne of God daily got one shot at living the perfect life with no possibility of redemption.That's why evil exists.They are curious about our salvation experience (1 Peter 1:10-12). But we do have the ability to be re-born, if we accept God's free, extravagant gift of eternal life (John 3:1-21). We all need a Savior; for all fall short of the glory of God (Romans 3:23-24). No one is perfect, not even the saints.
Those of us who think we've reached perfection are far from it. Pride is at the heart of all sin issues, the worst offender. I once heard a woman at a Christian women's conference proudly tell her friend she had received the "second act of grace", meaning she was now considered "sinless". When anyone says such a thing, it's time to get down on our knees and ask the Lord's forgiveness. Pride always comes before the downfall of such haughtiness (Proverbs 16:18). We may have been made in the image of God in the beginning (Genesis 1:26, 2:7), but we are all being molded and shaped more and more into the image of Christ daily (Romans 8:29-30). Sometimes the molding and remaking process of the Potter is painful (Isaiah 64:8-9,Jeremiah 18:1-12) .We all would do well to make the molding process a little easier by following the teachings of Jesus.
We are held to a higher standard. Because we belong to Jesus, we are held to a higher standard, even in the eyes of those who aren't Christians. We are called to put off the old self because it was buried with Christ and we are raised to a new life (Romans 6:4). When we behave badly, we give Jesus a bad name to people around us.We are called to walk in the newness of life Jesus gives.
If you aren't a Christian, I apologize for my own shortcomings. I can't apologize for others, but ask you to look for Jesus in the midst of our messes. If you want to know what He is like and what He taught, go to www.biblegateway.com and read the books of Matthew, Mark, Luke, and John. Please, excuse the mess because we are still under construction and it can be messy sometimes; it's a lifelong process of change God takes us through. Even though we've accepted Jesus as our Savior, our free will is still intact. It is the same free will you have to reject Jesus and the teachings of the Bible.
Image is public domain from Pixabay.
If you know Christ and are frustrated with Christians who don't live like they are saved, what's your excuse? Maybe we need to wear orange barrels saying, "We are under re-construction." It is not up to us to judge others (Luke 6:37-38). We are blessed when we have patience with others and forgive them because that is what Christ's love is about (Colossians 3;12-14). Welcome to the club!
Be careful about wearing Jesus t-shirts, sporting Jesus bumper stickers, or posting Jesus memes because the world is watching us. They want to know what it's like to belong to Jesus. Can we show others what Jesus is like by being transformed by the renewing of our minds (Romans 12:2), living out the fruit of the Spirit (Galatians 5:22-23)? When we live out the words of Christ, it's easier for people to see the Jesus we point them toward. May God bless you!