Have you ever missed an opportunity to love someone? Have you ever been so busy pointing out someone’s faults that you forgot to love them? Do you ever judge someone else so that you feel better about yourself? If we are honest, we have all missed opportunities to love someone because we are too self-centered to lay aside our judgemental-attitude long enough to do what we are supposed to do, love them. How many relationships have we destroyed by being judgemental?
I wish I could say that this is rare among Christians, but it isn’t. I had a sad experience recently which has hammered this point home to me. I was at a Bible-study, and since our usual leader was out of the country on a missions trip, his parents joined us to share what God is doing in their lives. They have been missionaries with Wyckliff Bible Translators for many years, and God has done some phenominal things through them and in their lives. When I got ready to leave, I told them I am in Christian nudist missions, and his response was “You can’t be a Christian and a nudist.”.
Someone else in the group had already told them about me, so they had already prejudged me before they even met me. What could have been a beautiful friendship between fellow-laborers in God’s kingdom was destroyed in an instant. Judgement eclipsed love…
That brings us to 1st Corinthians 13, the beautiful “Love-chapter”…
If I speak in the tongues of men and of angels, but have not love, I am a noisy gong or a clanging cymbal. And if I have prophetic powers, and understand all mysteries and all knowledge, and if I have all faith, so as to remove mountains, but have not love, I am nothing. If I give away all I have, and if I deliver up my body to be burned, but have not love, I gain nothing.
Love is patient and kind; love does not envy or boast; it his not arrogant or rude. It does not insist on its own way; it is not irritable or resentful; it does not rejoice at wrongdoing, but rejoices with the truth. Love bears all things, believes all things, hopes all things, endures all things.
Love never ends. As for prophecies, they will pass away; as for tongues, they will cease; as for knowledge, it will pass away. For we know in part and we prophesy in part, but when the perfect comes, the partial will pass away. When I was a child, I spoke like a child, I thought like a child, I reasoned like a child. When I became a man, I gave up childish ways. For now we see in a mirror dimly, but then face to face. Now I know in part; then I shall know fully, even as I have been fully known.
So now faith, hope, and love abide, these three; but the greatest of these is love. (1 Corinthians 13)
He who answers a matter before he hears it,
It is folly and shame to him. (Proverbs 18:13)
A brother offended is harder to win than a strong city,
And contentions are like the bars of a castle. (Proverbs 18:19)
He who restrains his words has knowledge, And he who has a cool spirit is a man of understanding. Even a fool, when he keeps silent, is considered wise; When he closes his lips, he is considered prudent. (Proverbs 17:27-28)
“Better to remain silent and be thought a fool than to speak out and remove all doubt.” (Abraham Lincoln)
As I have thought about this for the last several days, I am not going to make any further analysis of this situation and these Scriptures. Instead, I am going to heed the words of Proverbs and the wisdom of the old rail-splitter and hold my piece. With David, I will simply say:
“May the Lord be our judge and decide between us. May he consider my cause and uphold it; may he vindicate me by delivering me from your hand.” (1 Samuel 24:15)