12 Ways the Christian Can Be Less Mean

By Ron Edmondson

I wrote a post recently encouraging Christians to be less mean—especially online. It was called “When Did Christians Become So Mean?”

It seems to me, we’ve lost some of our civility when it comes to what we post on social media. We are quick to blast a company that we feel has wronged us. We criticize people — right on their Facebook page. We load the comments of a blog post with crushing blows.

Surely you’ve seen it. The web has made it much easier to be a critic.

But, it’s also in public. I’ve seen Christians I know act like jerks in a restaurant or grocery store. I consistently hear of bosses who serve smiling on Sunday but are mean to employees during the week.

It all has to hurt our witness as Christians.

The post got a little attention.

Actually, some people, proved the need for the post by the way they responded.

Still others asked for some suggestions of how we could improve—some even wanted examples.

I decided not to share specific examples. In my opinion, that would be mean. So, you’re meanness will remain anonymous in this post. If you are mean, most likely others already know your name.

I did decide to share some ways we can be “less mean” online.

Here are a dozen suggestions:

Consider others better than yourself. (Philippians 2:3)

Forgive one another. (Ephesians 4:32)

Love one another. (John 13:34)

Be kind and compassionate to one another. (Ephesians 4:32)

Everyone should be quick to listen, slow to speak, and slow to become angry. (James 1:19)

Treat others as you would want to be treated. (Luke 6:31)

Have the mind of Christ. (Philippians 2:5)

Remember kindness leads to repentance. (Romans 2:4)

Keep your tongue from evil and your lips from speaking deceit. (Psalm 34:13)

Honor everyone. (1 Peter 2:17)

Don’t use foul or abusive language. Let everything you say be good and helpful so that your words will be an encouragement to those who hear them. (Ephesians 4:29)

Love one another with brotherly affection. Outdo one another in showing honor. (Romans 12:10)

Just a few of those should improve the quality of our online involvement.

And, finally, a bonus one:

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. (Colossians 3:12–14)

Those are some of my suggestions.

Got any others?

Ron Edmondson pastors Immanuel Baptist Church

Looking at Life

by Charles R. Swindoll

James 4:13-15

Snap a telescopic lens on your perspective for the next few minutes. Pull yourself up close . . . close enough to see the real you. From the reflection in your mental mirror, pay close attention to your life. Try your best to examine the inner “you” on the basis of time.

The only way we can do this, of course, is to look in two directions . . . backward and forward. In many ways what we see in our past and visualize in our future determines how we view ourselves today . . . in that third dimension we call “the present.”

 As we look back, one overriding thought eclipses all others. It’s not new nor very profound, but it’s the truth: LIFE IS SHORT. That’s not only a valid observation from experience . . . it’s biblical.

Psalm 90 is loaded with reminders of the brevity of life. Life is short . . . like yesterday when it passes by . . . as a watch in the night . . . like grass, it sprouts and withers . . . like a sigh, soon it is gone. Life is indeed short.

 As we look ahead, we again see one major message. And it’s neither new nor profound, but it sure is true: LIFE IS UNCERTAIN. A single adjective could precede most every event in our future: “unexpected.” Unexpected surgery, transfer, change, accomplishment, loss, benefit, sickness, promotion, demotion, gift, death. Life is indeed uncertain.

Well then, since life is so brief and uncertain, how should we view our present?

I suggest there are three words that adequately and accurately describe the present. They do not contradict either lesson we have learned from time, nor do they require rose-colored glasses. Neither do they agree with philosophy’s futile meanderings. For as we look at the present, we discover: LIFE IS CHALLENGING.

Because it is short, life is packed with challenging possibilities. Because it is uncertain, it’s filled with challenging adjustments. I’m convinced that’s much of what Jesus meant when He promised us an abundant life. Abundant with challenges, running over with possibilities, filled with opportunities to adapt, shift, alter, and change. Come to think of it, that’s the secret of staying young. It is also the path that leads to optimism and motivation.

With each new dawn, life delivers a package to your front door. When you hear that ring tomorrow morning, try something new. Have Jesus Christ answer the door for you.

 Life’s most challenging opportunities are often brilliantly disguised as unsolvable problems.

 

The Purpose of Suffering

The book of Job gives several purposes for suffering and evil in the believer’s life. From this list I think we can make a list to check off when we encounter troubles in our lives.

Some churches teach that any trouble is because you have sinned. These modern Pharisees are quick to condemn you and judge you if you have bad things happen to you.   This is the Christian group that tends to shoot their wounded.

There is the group that teaches that God cannot do anything bad. Everything bad is from the Devil. They totally ignore the attributes of holiness and justice of God. They ignore the examples in the Bible where God punished or chastised.

Then there is the group who tend to put God in a box that prevents Him from doing anything. Everything bad is from the world getting morally out of balance.

The question arises, “Did God create Evil?” Isaiah 45:7 “I form the light, and create darkness: I make peace, and create evil: I the Lord do all these things.” The first thing we must do is look at the word for evil. The word translated “evil” is from a Hebrew word that means “adversity, affliction, calamity, disaster.” However according to the source I was reading, the Hebrew word can mean moral evil. But in this context it seems the word means God brings disaster on the disobedient.

Compiling a list of reasons for suffering you get;

Purposes for Suffering

  1. Test of Character
  2. Punishment for Sins
  3. Out of Balance in Moral Universe
  4. Call to Repentance
  5. Building Faith in God

You might find some other purpose for suffering, but everything I can think of falls into one of these categories. Doing something stupid and getting hurt falls under #2. Robbery, murder, and theft come under #3. And so the list grows.

So the Christian’s first action when faced with suffering, is to determine if it is a consequence of their own sin and actions. After ruling that out, from what I’ve read from the book of Job, God said there are some things we are just not to understand and we have to trust Him.

Just Getting Started

Yet God has made everything beautiful for its own time.
 
— Ecclesiastes 3:11

When I look back on my life at the things God has allowed me to do and the opportunities He has opened up, I can see the wisdom of His perfect timing.

Our tendency is to rush things. But just because something hasn’t happened in your life today doesn’t mean it won’t happen tomorrow. Just because it doesn’t happen tomorrow doesn’t mean it won’t happen a month from now or a year from now. Maybe one phase of your life is ending and another is beginning. Maybe everything that has happened to you up to this point in your life has been preparation for what is still ahead.

Moses didn’t get going until he was 80. Then there was Caleb, another Israelite who left Egypt in the Exodus. Along with Joshua, Caleb came back full of optimism and belief when they were sent to spy out the Promised Land. But when the Israelites believed the pessimistic report of the ten other spies, God was so displeased that He refused to allow them to enter the land.

Years later, when Joshua led a new generation of Israelites into the Promised Land, Caleb was among them. And at 80 years old, he said to Joshua, “So give me the hill country that the Lord promised me. You will remember that as scouts we found the descendants of Anak living there. . . But if the Lord is with me, I will drive them out of the land, just as the Lord said” (Joshua 14:12).

Joshua gave him his little segment of land as was promised, and Caleb drove out all of its inhabitants. Caleb believed God’s promises, and God was faithful. We need to do the same.

Beautiful! Really?

by Charles R. Swindoll

Isaiah 29:13-16

Fresh-fallen snow blanketed the range of mountains on the northeast rim of the Los Angeles basin. When I caught my first glimpse of it in the distance, I found myself smiling and saying aloud, “Beautiful!” Seventy-five miles away, it was beautiful. Up close, well, that was an entirely different matter.

About the time we reached 4,500 feet, narrow Highway 18 began to gather white dust. The temperature was right at freezing, the clouds were thick, and the wind had picked up considerably. I could have turned back then—and should have—but we were only fifteen or so minutes from our destination. So we pressed on.

The freak storm, however, made it increasingly obvious that things weren’t going to get better, so we decided to cut short our visit. By now the wind was howling and the snow was swirling across the asphalt. Disappointed, we began a journey we shall never forget. And for the next several miles a brief conversation haunted me. It had occurred before we left:

“Shouldn’t we buy tire chains?” she asked.
“Naw, this won’t be any problem,” he answered.
“Are you sure? It’s downhill all the way back,” she reminded him.
“Don’t worry, hon. We’ll be outa this in no time,” he said.

An hour and a half—which seemed more like a decade—later, we reached San Bernardino. Between 6,000 feet and sea level, only the Lord knows for sure what happened.

There was no sin—mortal or venial, thought, word, or deed—I didn’t confess. No prayer I didn’t use. No verse I didn’t claim. You know how folks say that when you are drowning your entire life passes before your eyes? Well, I can assure you the same is true as you fishtail your way down a glazed, winding, narrow, two-lane mountain highway.

Now there’s a lesson I will think of every time I see any beautiful snowcapped mountain range. It may seem beautiful from a distance, but when you get real close, the scene is entirely different. It’s a lot like life. Behind that beauty are bitter cold, screaming winds, blinding snow, icy roads, raw fear, and indescribable dangers. Distance feeds fantasy.

But the comforting fact is that as we journey through life, we have a Guide who knows all about those places. He knows our way, and He will get us through.

The Lord is our spiritual road atlas. When we rely on Him, we’ll never get lost.

 

What is True Worship?

A theme in this devotion is the concept of “worship.” In most people’s minds, worship involves some sort of public service with hymns of praise, prayers and a well-planned liturgy. Such services epitomize for many what is involved in worshiping God. Yet this provides only a partial picture.

A dictionary definition of worship is “reverence tendered to a divine being” and “an act expressing such reverence.” The word “worship” comes from an Old English word meaning “worth-ship” and refers to worthiness, respect and reverence directed toward God.

Appreciation for God’s worth

Our worship of God would therefore literally mean showing our appreciation of God’s worth. Certainly forms of outward religious practice, with their rituals, ceremonies and prayers, can show worship for God. But we must pay careful attention to what God tells us in his Word, the Bible.

God makes it clear He seeks those who will worship Him “in spirit and in truth” (John 4:23, 24). When Satan sought to tempt Christ to worship him, Jesus Christ sharply rebuked him, saying, “You shall worship the LORD your God, and Him only shall you serve” (Matthew 4:10). The apostle Paul equated his worship of God with “believing all things which are written in the Law and in the Prophets” (Acts 24:14), referring to what we call the Old Testament.

God wants humanity to worship Him in truth. We do this by honoring Him, serving Him and giving heed to His instructions. God asks us to live “by every word that proceeds from the mouth of God” (Matthew 4:4). Our worship of God is shown in how we live our daily lives. Christianity is a way of life (Acts 18:25, 26; 19:9, 23; 22:4; 24:14, 22). It is a way of thinking, acting and living. It affects every aspect of our life.

What true worship involves

True worship of God involves nothing short of the inward transformation of the human heart by faith in Jesus Christ and His sacrifice. External worship practices alone are inadequate. God is looking for those who will worship Him in spirit, from a converted and transformed heart.

True worship, then, is much more than praise of God in a public worship service. This broader meaning is indicated by the fact that five Greek verbs are translated “worship” in the New Testament. “The worship of God is nowhere defined in Scripture . . . It is not confined to praise; broadly it may be regarded as the direct acknowledgement to God, of His nature, attributes, ways and claims, whether by the outgoing of the heart in praise and thanksgiving, or by deed done in such acknowledgement” (W.E. Vine, Vine’s Expository Dictionary of New Testament Words, “Worship”).

Jesus Christ sharply rebuked the religious leaders of His day because they misrepresented God’s commands and substituted their own humanly devised teachings (Matthew 15:9; Mark 7:7). He said such worship was in vain. Christ reserved the harshest words of warning for those who would profess to worship God (who say “Lord, Lord,” Matthew 7:21), but refuse to do God’s will or obey His laws (verses 21-23). Such worship is empty and without merit, unacceptable to God and Jesus Christ.

We live at a time when many people are disillusioned with traditional worship services. They find them vacuous, without meaning and irrelevant to their lives. It is time to take a fresh look at what true worship is all about. When we come to understand its real significance, true worship becomes supremely relevant to our lives now and to our human destiny.

Sabbath full of meaning today

Many people, and professing Christians in particular, might be shocked to learn that the seventh-day Sabbath—God’s commanded day of rest and communal worship—is not abrogated for the Christian today. It remains very much in force. It is full of meaning and supremely relevant to the lives of all humanity. We are missing some of God’s most wonderful blessings if we ignore the observance of His commanded day of rest.

True worship of God honors God’s commands concerning the Sabbath. In contrast, Sunday observance does not rest on God’s authority or that of His Word, but on the authority of man. The hard question must be asked whether God accepts such worship when His clear commands regarding His Sabbath are ignored.

Does Your Fruit of the Spirit look Appetizing?

Notice it is “fruit” of the Spirit, not  “fruits”. Our fruit of the spirit is one piece with many different characteristics. We know the fruit is:

“Love, joy, peace, forbearance, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness and self-control” (Galatians 5:22-23).

All believers have the fruit of Spirit available to them. You don’t have to ask God for love, joy, or peace…you already have it in you. However, you may need to ask for a greater yield of your fruit on a day to day basis. The size of the fruit is different among believers. Some people spend time cultivating their fruit so that it’s flourishing; while others tend to neglect their fruit and it becomes unproductive.

 

Our fruit of the spirit is one piece with many different characteristics.

Every so often believers need to make sure they are growing up spiritually. Perhaps it is time for your fruit inspection. Use the following Fruit Development Assessment (F.D.A.) to determine the condition of your spiritual fruit. Check the fruit you need the most nourishment to grow.

Love

“Dear children let us not love with words or speech but with actions and in truth” (1 John 3:18).

Is your love unconditional? Or is your love most evident when everything goes your way? This type of fruit keeps on loving even when it’s difficult to show affection to others. The capacity to love grows out of the agape love from the heavenly Father.

Joy

“For the joy of the Lord is your strength” (Nehemiah 8:10).

Can you have joy in the chaos? Or does your moodiness hover over everyone like a cloud? Not that anyone should be joyful about the hard times, but rather your joy comes from #1) God is with you through it and #2) God uses every trial to help you become stronger in the faith.

Peace

“Do not be anxious about anything, but in every situation, by prayer and petition, with thanksgiving, present your requests to God.  And the peace of God, which transcends all understanding, will guard your hearts and your minds in Christ Jesus” (Philippians 4:6-8).

Is your inner person wrecked with anxiety and worry when everything falls apart? Or can you rest in God’s peace? There is no peace for the wicked; however, for believers it is available every time you pray and leave your concerns with God.

Forbearance

“Being strengthened with all power according to his glorious might so that you may have great endurance and patience” (Colossians 1:11).

Can you be still and wait on God? Or are you tempted to always move ahead so you can stay in control? Forbearance is a fruit that will grow with your experience of being stretched in faith especially in times of trial.  Forbearance is another word for patience; you don’t have to pray for patience…it’s there already!

Kindness

“And the Lord’s servant must not be quarrelsome but must be kind to everyone, able to teach, not resentful” (2 Timothy 2:24).

Do others sense your kindness in words and actions? Or are they more accustomed to your angry response? A gentle word, a soft answer, or a helping hand—all demonstrate the fruit of kindness in this culture of rudeness and selfishness.

Goodness

“Dear friend, do not imitate what is evil but what is good. Anyone who does what is good is from God. Anyone who does what is evil has not seen God” (3 John 11).

Are your conversations marked with genuine virtue and honor? Or is your conversation tainted with worldly language, immoral tendencies, or gossip? Goodness doesn’t mean that you are perfect, but rather someone who sincerely reflects the integrity of God within. A believer who demonstrates the fruit of goodness has the tendency to believe the best about people.

Faithfulness

“Now it is required that those who have been given a trust must prove faithful” (1 Corinthians 4:2).

Does your reputation reflect dependability and steadfastness in the faith? Or do people expect you to be late, undependable, or to drop off the map on a project? Your faithfulness represents God’s Spirit dwelling within. Those who cultivate the fruit of faithfulness are compelled to complete every good work for His glory.

Gentleness

“Let your gentleness be evident to all. The Lord is near” (Philippians 4:5).

Is your meek spirit felt around those who live or work with you? Or do they feel that you are a hard and legalistic person to deal with? A spirit of gentleness gives grace freely and consistently. Believers and unbelievers should feel at ease around you because of your presence of gentleness.

Self-Control

“For the grace of God has appeared that offers salvation to all people. It teaches us to say “No” to ungodliness and worldly passions, and to live self-controlled, upright and godly lives in this present age” (Titus 2:11-12)

Do you control your appetites? Or do they control you? Believers can demonstrate of life of self-control and discipline in a world where everyday is an opportunity for gluttony. You have the power through the Spirit to control your cravings.

Results

Are you at 10%, 50% or 100% in your fruit productivity? What matters most is that you don’t give up growing spiritual fruit. You cultivate it with the light of Jesus, the wind from the Spirit, the bread from the Word of God, and the fellowship of the saints.

“This is to my Father’s glory, that you bear much fruit, showing yourselves to be my disciples” (John 15:8).

 

 

You Are Getting Old Now What?

As a very young “Senior Citizen” who lives in a Senior Community, I am enjoying seeing the evidence of faith in many of our elderly, and how it affects their life.

Personally, I have been affected by health issues that have totally stopped and changed the direction of my life. I have had to learn to sit and let my girls do for me some of the simplest of things. Although I am normally a positive outlook person, I have had to face the question of why am I still alive and here? What good am I?

In my community and probably any chosen community you look at, there are those who are content and those who are worriers. There are those who are at peace and those who are tormented.

A quote from a book, something I have never forgotten: “…And when these old folks died, it was as if they had never been!” The challenge, no doubt, was about making a difference as a Christian disciple. Are we doing that?

Can Seniors Really Make a Difference?

I can think of at least five possible areas where those of us in the senior status can make a difference:

  •  Knowledge and command of the Word.
  • Praying with confidence and conviction.
  • Possession of a true concept of God.
  • Living a life with a positive testimony.
  • Sharing our faith in simple confidence.

If your life during the week, between Sundays, is caught-up in uncertainty and worry that you might not really be saved, there are probably a couple of things that are causing you to think that:

  1. You are relying on your feelings for assurance and not on what God has said, the promises He has made to you;
  2. And, you have not overcome the indulgence of your old nature in self-condemnation.

Look at 1 John 5:11-13:

“And this is the testimony that God has given us eternal life, and this life is in His Son. He who has the Son has life; he who does not have the Son of God does not have life. These things I have written to you who believe in the name of the Son of God, that you may know that you have eternal life, and that you may continue to believe in the name of the Son of God.”

Only believers in Jesus Christ can know that they have eternal life. No other religion can make that claim, and their consciences will not give them the peace of God that comes with the certainty of knowing for sure.

If you have invited Him into your life, in sincerity and honest repentance, He will not fail to enter your life and live in you. The other point to master is believing God has forgiven you for your sins, past, present and future, because He says so in 1 John 1:9 (and other places), even though you may not feel like they are forgiven. Self-condemnation cannot refute the promises of God!

Now, a continuation of that context in 1 John, above, bears upon that second point of the five listed earlier. Read again 1 John 5:11-13, then go on to these next verses, 1 John 5:14-15:

“Now, this is the confidence that we have in Him, that if we ask anything according to His will, He hears us. And if we know that He hears us, whatever we ask, we know that we have the petitions that we have asked of Him.”

If we know that we have eternal life because we believe that God said so, then our confidence is emboldened to know He will answer our prayers that are according to His will. The two principles are inseparable—to know that you know that you know; that He is true to His Word which automatically carries over to your prayer life. It is not a principle that becomes a part of our lives “right out of the box,” however. And that is where that third principle comes in.

Having a true concept of God is foundational. We have to discard all false concepts that are rooted in our sub-conscience minds from non-biblical theories we have heard or what we have concluded because of those “impossible” laws of God — things we think we have to do or we will go to hell. That is exactly why Jesus came into the world, to be our Savior! Here is another verse that may clarify the issue:

“But without faith it is impossible to please Him, for he who comes to God must believe that He is, and that He is a rewarder of those who diligently seek Him” (Hebrews 11:6).

That little two-letter word, “is” has a double meaning—that God exists, and that God is everything we would ever need. At the burning bush episode in Exodus 3, God told Moses to tell the Israelites His name is “I AM.” Ever-present and all that anyone would ever need, the source of all things—that is the God who IS!

Add to that, then, the latter part of the verse—He rewards those who follow Him in His righteousness and fellowship. God is a good God, and even the self-improvement gurus, who do not necessarily proclaim Jesus Christ as God, make that the first principle of maintaining a positive attitude.