The little boy was no more than four; blond hair and big smiling eyes. He was watching an older boy, maybe about 9 years old, across the aisle of the bus and the older boy played with his hat and covered his face and made noises to make the younger boy smile and giggle. When the stop came for the older boy to get off the bus, he started to leave and then paused, turned and ran over and rubbed his hand on the little boy’s head. The little boy’s eyes positively sparkled as he watched the older boy bound down the steps of the bus.
We are always being watched by those around us, just as we are always watching those around us. I think we forget sometimes though how much our behavior impacts those around us. No matter how far along we are in our spiritual walks, there will be those that are ahead of us, those who are walking with us and those that are coming along behind. And it has nothing to do with age or “how long” someone says they’ve known the Lord. Spiritual maturity is a whole ‘nother issue than age. I’ve met some who are very young who exhibit incredible maturity. And I’ve met others who claim to know the Lord and yet act in ways that are antithetical to what the Scriptures teach us about following the Lord. Paul talks about this when he discusses those that drink milk but should be eating meat.
How would we behave if we really understood that others are watching us? That God wants our lives to reflect Him?
And it’s more than being watched. The very word “Christian” means “little Christ”. Our lives are meant to reflect Christ – the new person He has created in us – not the stinky old flesh that we are supposed to be putting to death.
I’ve been so sad lately seeing Christians behave so badly. And if I am so deeply grieved, I can only imagine how our Father feels. How different would the church be if we really took this seriously:
And so, dear brothers and sisters, I plead with you to give your bodies to God because of all he has done for you. Let them be a living and holy sacrifice–the kind he will find acceptable. This is truly the way to worship him. (Romans 12:1)
I think it would be so different. If we belong to Christ then we shouldn’t behave like the world. We should look different. We should BE different. Our lives do not belong to us. We gave up our rights when we gave ourselves to following Jesus. So we don’t have the right to hold grudges, to treat each other badly, to brush people aside as if they don’t matter. If we could learn to see others as Christ sees them, then I’m pretty sure it would radically transform how we treat those around us.
So today I ask, is there a hurt? a grudge? an anger? that you are holding against someone? Ask God for help to Forgive. Then ask God to forgive you. Choosing to forgive is something we must do irregardless of whether the other person is even sorry. When we’ve been given so much by God, much will be required. Unforgiveness puts us in chains. Forgiveness sets us free.
Jesus came so we could be free. He has forgiven us, so we must forgive others.
And trust me when I tell you that I have had this truth sorely tested this past year in multiple, painful ways, and forgiveness – well, I can tell you that forgiveness is a choice that you will never regret.
Bear with each other and forgive whatever grievances you may have against one another. Forgive as the Lord forgave you. (Col 3:13)