“Live in harmony with each other. Don’t be too proud to enjoy the company of ordinary people. And don’t think you know it all!”
There is only so much you can do in a busy airport. For my husband, the two hour wait had become a sort of “cultural shock treatment.” His eyes would start far right, and as if on a conveyor belt, roll slowly to the left, before reversing course to the right again. On one such mindless passing, his eyes met the eyes of another “man of a certain age,” and both men slightly twitched, amazed in place. The lesson learned; people are watching.
We can learn a lot about people by the way they treat others behind the scenes. The stage on which we live, love, and work, could be the only Bible the world ever reads. It matters what happens behind closed doors. It matters how we treat others. Do we set unreasonable expectations? Do we blow up every day for the same reasons? Do we set impossible rules, or react poorly to perceived injustice, and then punish the ones we love? We can learn a lot about ourselves when we examine the way we treat the ones closest to us.
In Matthew 22:36-39 Jesus answers a question, Teacher, which is the great commandment in the law? Jesus said to him, “You shall love the Lord your God with all your heart, with all your soul and with all your mind. This is the first and great commandment. And the second is like it. You shall love your neighbor as yourself.” Don’t you just love how Jesus simplifies!
The Holy Scripture appeals to our better person with many encouraging words about our relationships with others. Romans 12:16 tells us to “Live in harmony with one another. Do not be proud, but be willing to associate with people of low position. Do not be conceited.” Hebrews 10:24 adds “And let us consider how we may spur one another on toward love and good deeds.” The foundational reality for all such verses is our love relationship with God.
The Pharisees held a position of high regard on the world stage. They wore long flowing robes, spoke long winded prayers, but were short on compassion and love. They were speck spotters, always finding the flaws in others. Jesus had brutally honest words for their actions. Matthew 12:34 swipes harshly at the religious leaders of the day, “Brood of vipers! How can you, being evil, speak good things? For out of the abundance of the heart the mouth speaks.”
Wow, to call someone a snake is bad, but to call them the offspring of snakes is far worse! Greek historians of the day believed that viper eggs hatched inside their mother’s stomach. The baby vipers would then eat their way out of the stomach to be born, killing the mother in the process. Some ancient scholars believed the mother viper ate the male viper when pregnant, and the babies were avenging their father’s death. Talk about rough children!
As servants of God we must be ever so careful with the words we choose to speak. We are held to a higher standard, as we should be. With that said, I will offer an example of how we miss the mark. It always bothered me when people would divide our children into categories. They would use words like “your children,” and then there were the “step children.” While they were technically accurate, their words seemed somewhat carelessly unloving. I always saw the children as “our children, a gift from God.” As a parent I saw nothing different about the children; we travelled together to games and competitions, went to church together, ate all of our meals together, and prayed fervently for each of them. Remember, the children were listening to those separating remarks, probably thinking of the step-sisters in Cinderella.
Matthew 12:36 reminds us in no uncertain terms, “But I say to you that for every idle word men may speak, they will give an account of it in the day of judgement.”
Look, we are all human, and we mess up. Thank God for His grace! I am so thankful in His forgiveness and for showing us a better way, and a better behavior. Whether on stage, under the spotlight, or behind the scenes, we must live in, and demonstrate, God’s love. Little eyes are watching, and how we act can cause them to stumble.
Shaped by Faith Prayer
Lord, help us to control our tongues. Before we speak, please quicken our hearts if what we are about to say is hurtful to others. Help us each day Lord Jesus to renew our minds and hearts. We yearn to think and speak more like you and less like ourselves. We thank You Lord for always helping us with our thoughts, words and actions. We look forward to spurring others on in the Faith with You guiding us each step of our way. Blessings and honor to You, Lord Jesus!