|Volume 20 Number 2 February 2018||
The news carried the story of the unthinkable. It seems that U.S. soldiers were under attack. Several grenades had been rolled into the tent that housed many soldiers, and when they ran out of the tent for their lives, the perpetrator routinely shot them. The unthinkable; this was not an enemy soldier but one of our own who did this.
Fratricide is defined as the killing of a brother (or sister). It describes “one who kills his brother.” We understand why one kills an enemy, but to kill a brother, comrade and partner is difficult to understand. Yet, many do it routinely—no, not in the military, but in the Lord’s church. Whether unknowingly or otherwise, we can be guilty killing—spiritually maiming or even killing a brother. We must be careful because these kinds of “grenades” can kill spiritually.
The grenade of false accusation kills. Whether it comes in the form of gossip, slander, half-truths or some other form, the improper use of the tongue can be deadly (James 3:2-12). Instead of lobbing grenades, let’s follow the instruction of God: “Let all bitterness, wrath, anger, clamor, and evil speaking be put away from you, with all malice. And be kind to one another” (Ephesians 4:31-32a).
The grenade of suspicion kills. Love is eager to believe the best, but suspicion is produced by something far less noble. The brother, who, with raised eyebrow and jaundiced vision, views another with suspicion based on his associates or mannerisms, will kill or wound, perhaps for no reason at all. Of all people to whom we should give the benefit of the doubt, it is our brethren!
The grenade of indifference kills. Perhaps this is the cruelest of all. George Bernard Shaw said, “The worst sin toward our fellow creatures is not to hate them, but to be indifferent to them.” Our Lord taught the importance of being responsive to those around us in Matthew 25:31-46 where He depicted the Judgment as being based in part on how we respond to the needs of others. Let us not simply say, “be warmed and filled” (James 2:15-17), but rather be genuinely concerned about the needs of others, especially of fellow Christians (Galatians 6:10).
I do not envy the man who will surely be tried before a military court on the charge of killing his fellow soldiers—his brothers. Yet, even more frightening and sobering is the thought of standing before the Judge to give an account for wounding and killing my brethren and God’s children. Let’s avoid that dire possibility by “being devoted to one another in brotherly love…” (Romans 12:10).
Self-Control is one of the key elements of the concept of Christian living. Someone will control us. Either we will control ourselves, or others will control us. Spiritually, either God or Satan ultimately control us.
The Psalmist pled with God for help in controlling himself.
Lord, help me control what I say
Don’t let me say anything bad.
Take away any desire to do evil.
Keep me from joining the wicked in doing wrong
Help me stay away from their feasts.
If good people correct me
I will accept it like a warm welcome. (Psalm 141:2-5 ESV)
There are four areas that need controlling alluded to in this passage.
Control My Mouth. The Scriptures are replete with passages that teach the danger of the tongue. We will be judged by our words. Yet, the tongue, according to James, is very hard to control. It tends to lead us instead of us controlling it. We need to strive to not “say anything bad!” We need to refrain from profane and dirty words, but we must also refrain from words of gossip and words that will hurt or destroy others. We should pray for God’s help in controlling our mouths.
Control My Desires. We all struggle with the desires of the flesh. Eve experienced this struggle in the Garden. We must work not to desire to do evil. Sin is attractive and provides “pleasure…for a season” (Hebrews 11:24). We need to fill our minds with ammunition against sin and evil; “thy word have I hid in my heart that I might not sin against thee” (Psalm 119:11). We must ask God to help us to overcome these desires. We must learn to be in control.
Control My Company. “Evil companionships corrupt good morals” (1 Corinthians 15:33). That is as true today as when Paul wrote it. It is as true for the elderly as it is for the teenager. It is easy to find ourselves “joining the wicked,” and if we do, it will not be long until we are “joining the wicked in doing wrong.” The “feasts” of the wicked look delicious and appetizing, and they attract us like a fish is drawn to a worm that is hiding the deadly hook. We must control ourselves and watch out for the company we keep.
Control My Attitude. The Psalmist asked God to help him to accept it when good people would correct him. We need to welcome the help of those that care about us, as well as about God and His ways. We need to maintain a humble attitude of service and of the realization that we are sinful. I am afraid that many will stand before God condemned because of their attitudes. We must ask God to help us to have the right kind of attitude.
May we gain control with the help of God. May we regain control when we lose it. Then one day, we will not have to worry about it anymore, because we will be in the very presence of God— for evermore, world without end. It will be worth the effort!