by Pastor Tim Burt
Renee and I have been married for 41 years. We have an awesome marriage. As newlyweds, we were young and immature—downright childish at times. The result: arguing, fighting, and anger that happened far too frequently. We survived because we knew we loved each other, and loved God even more. That made nothing easy. It just kept us from quitting! We were committed to learning how to love and communicate with each other. We learned that the key to communication that works is respect! When we learned to speak to each other with respect, listen to each other, stick to the issues we had to work through, and most importantly, treat each other with respect at all times, we had the breakthrough that took our marriage to a wonderful place.
I’m not writing about marriage this morning, but about respect! Respect is what keeps the very real emotions of hatred and anger in check so that we use them the way God intended. First, hate is an emotion, not given to point toward people but toward Satan. Come to understand this in your emotions and thinking and I promise you, you will mature!
Romans 12:9 NIV says, “Love must be sincere. Hate what is evil; cling to what is good.” When the Bible says, “Hate what is evil,” it means toward Satan and all his devices, and evil things, but not people! Hatred is not to be aimed toward one another. To the contrary, in many scriptures we are exhorted to “get along,” “to forgive one another,” “to work things out.” These are mandates with which Jesus said, “But if you refuse to forgive others, your Father (in Heaven) will not forgive your sins.” (Matthew 6:15 NLT)
The Apostle Paul also taught us that in general, we need to recognize that it’s not people that we are battling, but demonic spiritual forces in the background that work to get people to fight and destroy each other. Ephesians 6:10-12 NLT says, “A final word: Be strong in the Lord and His mighty power. Put on all of God’s armor so that you will be able to stand firm against all strategies and tricks of the Devil. For we are not fighting against people made of flesh and blood, but against the evil rulers and authorities of the unseen world, against those mighty powers of darkness who rule this world, and against wicked spirits in the heavenly realms.”
You man not understand how Satan and powers of darkness work, but you do at least need to understand that they are real and that because He hates God and all of His creation, Satan and his forces work to destroy any and everything that is good. We are to oppose evil and wickedness and work to overcome it. Romans 12:21 NLT instructs and exhorts us, “Don’t let evil conquer you, but conquer evil by doing good.” In other words, by behaving in the good way that would normally not be expected when evil happens to you! When we are in a position of seeing evil that we should oppose, the emotions of hatred or anger can fuel us to do so, but we need to exercise that energy in a godly fashion.
Evil is opposed in many different ways and at many different levels. In war, evil is opposed militarily with strategies and weapons of warfare. At the level of street crime, evil is opposed by different forms of police and government law enforcement agencies. In our day-to-day lives we are to oppose evil or wrong, but never outside the boundaries of respect.
I recently received a letter from a friend of mine, a Christian who manages complaint letters within a large corporation that sells retail products. He was telling me that many of the letters he receives are written by those that have somehow identified themselves as Christians, and yet their letters and emails are completely outside the boundaries of respect and Christian representation. Their comments contained cursing, were mean-spirited, rude or sarcastic, and worse. You couldn’t find a trace of Christ-like attitude in them.
Voicing disapproval is one way we oppose evil, but respect is crucial to a Christian witness and attitude. 2 Tim. 2:24-26 says it like this: “The Lord’s servants must not quarrel but must be kind to everyone. They must be able to teach effectively and be patient with difficult people. They should gently teach those who oppose the truth. Perhaps God will change those people’s hearts, and they will believe the truth. Then they will come to their senses…”
We are the representatives of Jesus in the earth. That is a huge responsibility and one we’ll make many mistakes in. But what helps me get this more right than wrong, is remembering that anger can destroy in a minute, but ultimately, “love never fails.”
1 Cor. 13:8 (NIV) “Love never fails…”
In His love,
Pastor Tim Burt
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Published by Pastor Tim Burt
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