Traits of Christian' people
"Let all bitterness and wrath, and anger, and clamour and evil speaking, be put away from you, with all malice: And be ye kind one to another, tenderhearted, forgiving one another, even as God for Christ's sake hath forgiven you," Ephesians 4:31-32 (King James Version).
"Finally, be ye all of one mind, having compassion one of another, love as brethren, be pitiful, be courteous: Not rendering evil for evil, or railing for railing: but contrariwise blessing; knowing that ye are thereunto called, that ye should inherit a blessing.
"For he that will love life and see good days, let him refrain his tongue from evil, and his lips that they speak no guile: Let him eschew evil and do good; let him seek peace and ensue it. For the eyes of the Lord are over the righteous and his ears are open unto their prayers: but the face of the Lord is against them that do evil," 1 Peter 3:8-12 (KJV).
As followers of Jesus Christ we have a responsibility to represent Christ in this world. There is no excuse for rude and disrespectful behavior in the life of a believer.
Yet at times, I find myself regretting a hasty word spoken or a reaction to a troubling circumstance.
We usually associate "doing evil" with murder, theft, rape, etc. Yet the verses I have just quoted infer that lack of compassion, discourtesy, "rendering evil for evil," "railing for railing," bitterness and malice all are included in the Lord not being open unto our prayers.
I have been preaching a series of sermons concerning the activities of Nehemiah who returned from captivity to rebuild the walls of Jerusalem.
As recorded in Nehemiah 5, he learned that wealthier Jews were oppressing the poor.
It is written in Nehemiah 5:6 that he "was very angry" when he heard what was taking place. Yet verse 7 reads, "Then I consulted with myself and I rebuked the nobles and the rulers" It is clear he was justifiably angry, but he realized the need to exercise self-control in dealing with them.
I remember hearing a lady tell of an occasion when she and her husband were going to a popular restaurant for an evening meal. The parking lot was crowded. She suggested that her husband let her out near the entrance and she would rush in and hopefully get a good table while he parked.
As she was hurriedly moving toward the entrance she saw another woman approaching from another direction. She determined to step up her pace considerably and enter before that woman. She cut in front of the other lady and a greeter led her to a booth near the front entrance.
The other woman entered and was told she would have to wait a short time until something was available. In a short time, she was led to a booth in a very good location. Meanwhile, the woman who had hurried in was very uncomfortable throughout the meal because of the cold air she felt every time someone entered through the entrance door.
Probably no situation in which we find ourselves equals what we experience on our interstate highways especially in the summer months. While traveling this summer I have witnessed many times what we refer to as "road rage."
This is especially evident in the many areas of road construction. May God help us as "Christ's brethren" to manifest a Christ-like attitude in difficult circumstances.
I close this meditation by quoting the refrain of a hymn written in 1966 by Peter Scholtes: "They will know we are Christians by our love, by our love; yes they'll know we are Christians by our love."
Rev. Jim Davis is pastor of the Pilgrim Holiness Church of Strattanville.