Their Sin Wouldn’t Excuse Mine

1 Co 13I probably shouldn’t blog today. This morning, I heard something about a church I used to attend that, although it didn’t  surprise me, made me angry. I fear that, in my fury, I might slander the church. Not a good idea.

Internet communications make it so easy to type out every angry thought and then publish it for all the world to read. In the process, innocent people get hurt and we dishonor the Lord. We may state perfectly true facts and make completely accurate assessments, but in the process we run the risk of gossiping and slandering.

There are times, of course, when we must speak out against unbiblical teachings and practices, especially when a church (or person) claims to  follow Scripture. Perhaps, when I gain some distance from today’s conversation, I can find a way to comment on the underlying issues in a manner that reflects godly character.

And the Lord holds me responsible to behave in accordance with His character and His work in my life. In fact, all of us who call ourselves Christians bear this responsibility. In the first three chapters of Ephesians, Paul lays out a sumptuous explanation of who we  are in Christ. Those magnificent chapters overflow with descriptions of the Lord’s mercy in transforming us from corpses  enslaved by our own sin into members of His family who will experience spiritual blessings beyond our wildest imaginations. Then, in Chapter 4, Paul begins speaking about our response to His grace.

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)

Later in the chapter, Paul mentions some specific ways of exhibiting that humility and  gentleness.

25 Therefore, having put away falsehood, let each one of you speak the truth with his neighbor, for we are members one of another. 26 Be angry and do not sin; do not let the sun go down on your anger, 27 and give no opportunity to the devil. 28 Let the thief no longer steal, but rather let him labor, doing honest work with his own hands, so that he may have something to share with anyone in need. 29 Let no corrupting talk come out of your mouths, but only such as is good for building up, as fits the occasion, that it may give grace to those who hear. 30 And do not grieve the Holy Spirit of God, by whom you were sealed for the day of redemption. 31 Let all bitterness and wrath and anger and clamor and slander be put away from you, along with all malice. 32 Be kind to one another, tenderhearted, forgiving one another, as God in Christ forgave you. ~~Ephesians 4:25-32 (ESV)

At this point, I know the Lord places  parameters on how I handle my anger toward my former church. Yes, they’re making terrible choices in how they do things, and those choices betray their low view of Scripture. Certainly, their choices retard the spiritual growth of those under their care, and most likely presents a weakened view of the Gospel. And I should be angry at their compromises!

But my anger must not give me license to sin. In time, I probably will find appropriate ways to write about the issues this church raises, and I pray that the Holy Spirit will help me do so in a way that pleases Him. Righteous anger must never express itself in sinful actions. If I  honestly care  about honoring Christ, then I need to ensure that I don’t dishonor Him myself.

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