Thursday, February 6, 2014

"Conviction, With Compassion"

     In the last 20 years or so, the Internet has opened lines of communication between believers that never before existed.  Millions of Christians can now communicate their thoughts in public forums, declaring their most cherished beliefs and their deepest concerns.  The electronic arena thus provides rich opportunity for fellowship, making possible holy opportunities for mutual benefit and edification.  On the other hand...

    Few forums more provide the temptation for professing believers to vent their disagreements with each other, often in the most uncivil attitudes and tones.  Certainly we may differ with each other, and just as certainly, we do well to stand for our convictions.  The Bible calls us to make such stands, however, with an attitude of loving regard for the glory of God and a sincere determination to reflect His nature and character.

    "The servant of the Lord must not strive; but be gentle unto all men, apt to teach, patient" (II Timothy 2:24).

     Conviction without compassion originates not in the Lord Jesus Christ, but in the devilish carnality that foments unrest and division in the body of Christ.  Moreover, our enemies tempt us to the pride that easily elicits forgetfulness of the Apostle Paul's admonition that "if any man think that he knoweth anything, he knoweth nothing yet as he ought to know" (I Corinthians 8:2).  Perhaps most of all, focusing overmuch on where I believe my brother to be wrong distracts me from the most pertinent question of every hour, namely, am I trusting and obeying the Lord myself regarding the matters of my life and calling?  If I consistently fail therein, it won't matter much if in my own mind I win arguments about issues that may be vitally important, but which distract my heart from the will of God for my own path - "This is the way.  Walk ye in it" (Isaiah 30:21).

    A genuine experience of the Lord Jesus fosters conviction, with compassion.  Let us seek God in His Word enough to have convictions.  Then, let us expect that our beliefs will result in attitudes of genuine and loving concern for God and others, as opposed to the disrespectful combativeness that reveals pride rather than piety.  We contend earnestly, as Scripture commands, and we contend gently, as Scripture commands (Jude 1:3).  Both fruits of Christ's character and nature must grace our walk in His love, and in His truth.

"That we henceforth be no more children, tossed to and fro, and carried about with every wind of doctrine, by the sleight of men, and cunning craftiness, whereby they lie in wait to deceive; but speaking the truth in love, may grow up into Him in all things, which is the head, even Christ."
(Ephesians 4:14-15)
"I therefore, the prisoner of the Lord, beseech you that ye walk worthy of the vocation wherewith ye are called, with all lowliness and meekness, with longsuffering, forbearing one another in love; endeavoring to keep the unity of the Spirit in the bond of peace."
(Ephesians 4:1-3)

Weekly Memory Verse
    "O LORD, Thou art my God; I will exalt Thee, I will praise Thy name; for Thou hast done wonderful things; Thy counsels of old are faithfulness and truth."
(Isaiah 25:1)

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