|Vol. 14 No. 12 December 2012||
Adam B. Cozort
There once were two siblings: a brother and sister. The brother was older and more knowledgeable than the sister. The sister was pretty, but not flawlessly so. She had a birthmark underneath her chin, a mole beside one ear and hair that always looked messy no matter what she tried to do with it. Yet, she had a beautiful heart and worked very hard at being the best she could be.
Nevertheless, the brother was merciless toward his sister. He constantly told others, both family and strangers, about her flaws and shortcomings. She wasn’t really as pretty as people thought, according to him, for she was far too flawed for anyone to be truly pleased. The derogatory statements began as whispers behind her back, but soon they became constant statements that were before the sister on a daily basis.
She tried to make changes, to cover the blemishes with makeup, to keep the hair as others thought it should be and to appear less “ugly.” However, no matter what she did, the brother never changed his opinion of her. She was always going to be his ugly sister, and he was not afraid to let anyone know the truth about her.
Finally one day, after a great deal of time taking the berating words from her brother, the sister decided she could not take it anymore. One night she ran away from home, leaving a note stating that she could not take the brother’s criticism any longer. While she was on the streets a stranger found her, laid his hands on her and killed her.
When the family was notified of her demise, they found the note left by the girl. The brother then had to live the rest of his life before his family and friends knowing that it was his merciless lack of love and compassion that cost his sister her life, and the beauty her life could have brought into the lives of so many others.
As sad as this story is, it is played out on a regular basis within the church by those brothers and sisters whose irritable griping and merciless complaining torment the souls of Christians striving to do what is right. The objects of derision are not perfect, they have flaws and problems like everyone else, but they strive with all their might to do what is right and be what God wants them to be. Nevertheless, many “sisters” have been driven from the church by uncaring members who are more than happy to tell anyone, Christian or not, what they think of that individual and how terrible their shortcomings are.
Jesus said, “Truly, I say to you, unless you turn and become like children, you will never enter the kingdom of heaven. Whoever humbles himself like this child is the greatest in the kingdom of heaven. Whoever receives one such child in my name receives me, but whoever causes one of these little ones who believe in me to sin, it would be better for him to have a great millstone fastened around his neck and to be drowned in the depth of the sea. Woe to the world for temptations to sin! For it is necessary that temptations come, but woe to the one by whom the temptation comes!” (Matthew 18:3-7 ESV). Paul would warn against becoming those who, “Learn to be idle, wandering about from house to house; and not only idle, but tattlers also and busybodies, speaking things which they ought not” (1 Timothy 5:13).
Our speech is to always be with grace and seasoned with salt (Colossians 4:6). The things that we say and the way we treat others have a deep impact on their feelings, their resolve and their ability to continue to grow and improve. May it never be said of us that we drove a sibling away with malice, resentment and anger, and never tried to strengthen them with love, truth and encouragement to always do what is right.
Mark N. Posey
Did you know that 97% of the world has heard of Coca-Cola? Did you know that 72% of the world has seen a can of Coca-Cola? Did you know that 51% of the world has tasted a can of Coca-Cola? Coke has only been around for some 100 years, not too bad! In knowing that, compare it to the fact that only some 20% of the world’s population has heard the Gospel message! We need to get our attention back on that which is eternal and focus on the lost. Christians should be Soul Winners!
The Command from Above (Matthew 28:18-20)
Since Jesus has all authority, we are commanded to go, make disciples of all nations, baptize them and teach them to obey. This commission is given in light of the authority of Jesus; it is an authoritative command, not a suggestion. It is the same idea as an officer reminding a private of his rank before he gives the orders. Because He has this authority, He can send whomever He wills to do whatever He pleases. One problem for many churches and Christians today is that the Great Commission has become the Great Omission (cf. John 14:15)!
The Cry from Beneath (Luke 16:27-28)
Remember the rich man who died and woke up in hell, begging for someone to go and tell his brothers? “I pray thee, therefore, father, that thou wouldest send him to my father’s house (for I have five brethren), that he may testify unto them, lest they also come into this place of torment.” There is the cry from beneath. If you and I could hear the cries of people in a lost eternity right now, we would realize how important and how urgent it is to get the Gospel out (2 Corinthians 5:11, 20).
The Call from Without (Acts 16:9-10)
The Macedonian man wanted help. So, Paul went to bring Macedonia the Gospel! The greatest help we can bring anyone is the life-changing Gospel of Jesus Christ! It is good for us to bring other help along with the Gospel, but without the Gospel, what real help have you given them (2 Timothy 2:2)?
The Constrain from Within (2 Corinthians 5:14)
Paul felt compelled by the love of Christ. If someone asked, “Why are you doing it all? Why all the pain and all the trials?” Paul would answer, “I have to. I have received the love of Christ. I have the love of Christ in my heart in the sense that I love Jesus. I have the love of Christ in my heart for all the people Jesus loves. I am compelled by the love of Christ!” The apostles labored much, but all their labor sprang from the impulse of the love of Jesus Christ. Just as Jacob toiled for Rachel solely out of love to her, so do true saints serve the Lord Jesus under the omnipotent constraint of love (Romans 9:3; 10:1).
Paul Harvey said, “Too many Christians are no longer fishers of men but keepers of the aquarium.” Brethren, this must change! Preachers – preach on evangelism! Elders – lead in evangelism! Deacons – practice evangelism! Christians – be evangelists! May the day come when Colossians 1:23 is repeated in our day.