By: Undre Griggs, Jr.
There is always a temptation to lean on our own expertise when attempting to solve a problem. We feel that we know the person, we know the situation, so we know how to help. The first thing to do in any situation is to pray to God for guidance.
Isaiah 40:31 (ESV): But they who wait for the Lord shall renew their strength; they shall mount up with wings like eagles; they shall run and not be weary; they shall walk and not faint.
From a practical standpoint, taking a moment to collect your thoughts and properly access the situation is always beneficial. Reacting without thinking tends to exacerbate the situation, instead of soothing it. When someone wrongs you, the flesh immediately wants you to retaliate. We end up thinking the worst and assigning a motive based on our own preconceptions. Scripture encourages us to wait for the Lord, because it is God who provides our strength. When you feel drained by the trials of life, God is going to provide you the energy to continue. When you feel like you cannot take one more minute of mistreatment, God shows you that you have the strength to overcome their attacks for a lifetime.
Philippians 4:19 (ESV): And my God will supply every need of yours according to his riches in glory in Christ Jesus.
Sometimes we worry about things like “fairness” and “justice” too much. When thinking about what you need, do you really need fairness to do what is right? Do you really need for someone else’s sinful nature to be exposed for you to feel justified? Sure, it would be nice if everyone played by the same rules and had the same opportunities. It would be great if everyone was willing to apologize and show genuine repentance before we had to consider being kind to them. Paul understands even though these things would be nice, they should not impact our actions. If we believe God will give us everything we need, then we must believe when something doesn’t happen that means we do not need it. If we did not get that job we are qualified for, then it must mean God does not think we need it at this moment. If someone never apologizes for mistreating you, then God must think you do not need to hear that apology. Scripture tells us that love covers a multitude of sin (1 Peter 4:8), and it is to our glory to overlook an offense (Proverb 19:11). By focusing on what we need and waiting for God to provide us strength, we will be less concerned about personal justification; and more focused about heavenly blessings.
By: Undre Griggs, Jr.
It is important for Christians to be united in the word of God. We are united if you believe that Jesus Christ is the Son of God, died for the sins of the world, and rose again on the third day. We are united if you believe Jesus is going to return in all His glory to judge the world. We are united if you believe baptism is the death of your old self, and the birth of your new self in Christ.
Ephesians 4:3-6 (ESV): Eager to maintain the unity of the Spirit in the bond of peace. There is one body and one Spirit—just as you were called to the one hope that belongs to your call— one Lord, one faith, one baptism, one God and Father of all, who is over all and through all and in all.
However, if we do not share these traits, then we are not united in Christ. The kingdom of God cannot be divided against itself. In fact, nothing can continue to exist if the people are divided against each other. When Christians do not agree about the Gospel, they make it difficult to convert an unbeliever. When an unbeliever sees fractions within the church, whether an issue of doctrine or opinion, the church’s influence is weakened. Disagreements among believers tend to progress into larger divisions, which can lead to church’s splitting or dying altogether.
Mark 3:24-26 (ESV): If a kingdom is divided against itself, that kingdom cannot stand. And if a house is divided against itself, that house will not be able to stand. And if Satan has risen up against himself and is divided, he cannot stand, but is coming to an end.
How many different church buildings/signs/names do you see when you are driving to your place of worship? I see almost a dozen every day, and I can’t help but think, this is not what Christ wanted. In a couple circumstances, the churches are built right next to each other. Multiple churches are across the street from each other, or within a few blocks. And it is not as though these churches are filled to capacity. They are often smaller congregations that are divided on matters of opinion. Sometimes the differences are the result of someone removing something from God’s word; other times, it is the result of someone adding to God’s word. By allowing personal opinions to enter into the Gospel of Christ, it taints the word of God.
Galatians 1:6-10 (NKJV): I marvel that you are turning away so soon from Him who called you in the grace of Christ, to a different gospel, which is not another; but there are some who trouble you and want to pervert the gospel of Christ. But even if we, or an angel from heaven, preach any other gospel to you than what we have preached to you, let him be accursed.
The apostle Paul frequently discusses this problem among the early churches. He talks about the fact that no one (and I mean no one) can change the word of God and still call it the word of God. It is something we should take comfort in, because we know exactly what God requires of us to be faithful. There is no pop quiz or gotcha questions to trip us up on the Last Day. All we have to do is remain faithful to the unchanging word of God.
By: Undre Griggs, Jr.
Accountability goes a long way in helping you to improve some aspect of your life. However, for it to work, you need to be honest with yourself and others. When someone is compelled to ask the body of Christ for forgiveness, they are not only repenting, but they are asking for help to stay on the path of righteousness.
Galatians 6:1-5 (ESV): Brothers, if anyone is caught in any transgression, you who are spiritual should restore him in a spirit of gentleness. Keep watch on yourself, lest you too be tempted. Bear one another's burdens, and so fulfill the law of Christ. For if anyone thinks he is something, when he is nothing, he deceives himself. But let each one test his own work, and then his reason to boast will be in himself alone and not in his neighbor. For each will have to bear his own load.
When you help someone deal with a temptation, you must always be careful not to fall into the same temptation yourself. Even though your goal is to help them change something about their life, if you are not careful, you may be the one changing. Even if their temptation is not a temptation to you, you need to remain humble in their time of need. An arrogant heart can make us susceptible to other transgressions. We are expected to bear each other’s burden (have a sympathetic heart), and if we allow ourselves to believe we are better than someone else’s situation, we risk appearing unsympathetic and insensitive.
James 5:16 (ESV): Therefore, confess your sins to one another and pray for one another, that you may be healed. The prayer of a righteous person has great power as it is working.
It is all too common for Christians to look at their own situation and believe they are wiser or better than someone else. Paul says anyone who believes that is deceiving themselves as we have all fallen short of the glory of the Lord. By pretending to be something we are not, we are only cheating ourselves out of being healed. By openly sharing our shortcomings with others, we receive an accountability partner and prayers of restoration. That is why Paul advices us to test our works. The better we know our own heart, the less likely we will look down on others when they transgress. Which will ultimately aid us in being more compassionate and sympathetic when helping others.
By: Undre Griggs, Jr.
God wants us to know that He is there for us whenever we need Him. If you are in need of a friend, He will be your closest confidant. If you need some advice, He will be your trusted counselor. If you need protection, He will be your shield. God will strengthen you in the way you need and when you need Him most.
Isaiah 41:9-11 (NIV): I took you from the ends of the earth, from its farthest corners I called you. I said, ‘You are my servant’; I have chosen you and have not rejected you. So do not fear, for I am with you; do not be dismayed, for I am your God. I will strengthen you and help you; I will uphold you with my righteous right hand. “All who rage against you will surely be ashamed and disgraced; those who oppose you will be as nothing and perish.
Whether you are believer or a nonbeliever, you will face some form of persecution. As a believer, our objective is to only face persecution for Christ’s sake, never from our own misdeeds. The problem does not come from persecution, but from fear to persuading us to trust in something other than God. When your trust in God fades, you start to lean on the security of the world. You start to befriend the strong and vote for the powerful; even though they reflect the traits you should avoid the most.
Proverbs 29:25-26 (ESV): The fear of man lays a snare, but whoever trusts in the Lord is safe. Many seek the face of a ruler, but it is from the Lord that a man gets justice.
The apostle Paul encourages Christians to remain faithful to God in the face of persecution. Paul reminds Timothy that Christians do not have a spirit of fear, but a Spirit of power, love and self-control. Your victory is in the life, burial and resurrection of Jesus Christ and there is no weapon on this earth that can change that. It is only by us relying on what the world has to offer that can alter our fate.
2 Timothy 1:6-7 (ESV): For this reason, I remind you to fan into flame the gift of God, which is in you through the laying on of my hands, for God gave us a spirit not of fear but of power and love and self-control.
What makes succumbing to fear so damaging is the fact that it requires a person to believe that God is not trustworthy. Whether you do not trust in His will or you trust too much in the will of man, you are leaning too much on your own understanding. When we trust ourselves more than we trust God, we begin to rationalize, justify and compromise our values. Paul wants us to remember that the power of God’s love is all we need, and even if that does not provide what we want here on earth, it will surely be more than we ever dreamed in heaven.