I have decided getting along with non-believers is much easier at times than getting along with Christians. I've found myself here recently absolutely amazed at the behavior of some fellow-Christians God has providentially placed in my life. I use the word providence because I know the Lord has a purpose for me and you crossing paths with every single person we encounter in life. We don't get to choose those people!
I have attempted to avoid one person I have been having difficulty with, thinking that was the best method to keep the peace. Well, that didn't work. Then I thought, "I'm not going to let this person talk to me this way, I'm going to start retailiating and putting this person in their place!" Well, that only created more hostility. I found myself being very angry, judgmental, and completely consumed about their sinful behavior.
I really wanted this person to change, while all along God was asking me to change!
In a conversation with my friend, Lori, (who is not a difficult disciple!), she challenged me to stop trying to control the other person's behavior, and instead, to take control of my behavior toward this difficult disciple. Then Lori wisely lead me to the word of God:
Brothers, if someone is caught in a sin, you who are spiritual should restore him gently. But watch yourself, or you also may be tempted. Carry each other's burdens, and in this way you will fulfill the law of Christ.
Ouch. I read this and knew immediately what my response should be with this difficult disciple. The truth is, sin is contagious. While I was ranting about this person's sinful behavior, I became sinful myself. I was pointing out the speck in their eye, while not recognizing the log in my own eye!
I confessed this to the Lord, released this person, and got busy restoring this difficult disciple gently. Does this mean we are best friends? No. But it does mean I can serve this person, pray for this person, write a note of encouragement, listen to this person, seek to understand this person. But the greatest way I can restore this person is to love them, which is the true mark of a disciple of Christ. The law of Christ mentioned in verse 2 above is: Love thy neighbor.
Do you have a difficult disciple in your life? Maybe it is your husband, your mother, a co-worker, a roomate, or an in-law. I encourage you to meditate on this passage and then apply it to your difficult situation. I trust the Lord will honor your obedience.
Many months ago I saw a prayer posted in a friend's office. I didn't understand it at the time I read it, but oh boy, do I now! It read the following,
"Lord, grant me the compassion to love, rather than to tolerate."
God has not called us to tolerance, but He has called us to love. One requires the supernatural Spirit of God, one does not. This is now my prayer too.