Bothered in Christ?

No it isn’t a typo. Are you bothered by a brother in Christ? Does the continual lack of dedication and lack of attention of other Christians really annoy you?

This is a trap I get caught in occasionally and I can’t find a way to justify it by the standard of Jesus Christ. What do I mean by this? Find a time in Jesus’ life when he was annoyed or bothered by the lack of knowledge or the failings of his followers. This is different than the hypocritical Pharisees. We are talking about people who are trying but lose heart, lack knowledge, or are struggling to find their way. Jesus looked on them with compassion (Mark 6:34). He loved to help more than he needed physical food (John 4:32). He loved them enough to hurt his reputation among the leaders of the day (Luke 15:2). How did he do this? He never lost sight of the preciousness of a soul! He never lost sight of God’s will (John 10:25-30).

So when I am faced with this situation what do I do? I try to get back into the Christ-like mind set. I do this by asking myself which of the two descriptions best describe me:

1. I am worthy of anything and everything that God has done and will do for me. Since I am so perfect I have every right to be annoyed that others just can’t seem to catch up with my spiritual superiority.

2. I am unworthy of anything and everything that God has done and will do for me. He loved me as a sinner and only through the perfect sacrifice of His Son do I have any hope of seeing Him one day in heaven. Any spiritual heights that I may attain are the work of His grace and enduring love for me.

The obvious answer is that I am unworthy to be called by the name of Jesus Christ. So what would Jesus say to me in these moments of spiritual blindness? He would most likely tell me the parable of the unmerciful servant (Matt 18: 21-35)

The Parable of the Unforgiving Servant

21 Then Peter came up and said to him, “Lord, how often will my brother sin against me, and I forgive him? As many as seven times?” 22 Jesus said to him, “I do not say to you seven times, but seventy times seven.

23 “Therefore the kingdom of heaven may be compared to a king who wished to settle accounts with his servants. 24 When he began to settle, one was brought to him who owed him ten thousand talents. 25 And since he could not pay, his master ordered him to be sold, with his wife and children and all that he had, and payment to be made. 26 So the servant fell on his knees, imploring him, ‘Have patience with me, and I will pay you everything.’ 27 And out of pity for him, the master of that servant released him and forgave him the debt. 28 But when that same servant went out, he found one of his fellow servants who owed him a hundred denarii, and seizing him, he began to choke him, saying, ‘Pay what you owe.’ 29 So his fellow servant fell down and pleaded with him, ‘Have patience with me, and I will pay you.’ 30 He refused and went and put him in prison until he should pay the debt. 31 When his fellow servants saw what had taken place, they were greatly distressed, and they went and reported to their master all that had taken place. 32 Then his master summoned him and said to him, ‘You wicked servant! I forgave you all that debt because you pleaded with me. 33 And should not you have had mercy on your fellow servant, as I had mercy on you?’ 34 And in anger his master delivered him to the jailers, until he should pay all his debt. 35 So also my heavenly Father will do to every one of you, if you do not forgive your brother from your heart.” (ESV)

Note: A denarius was a day’s wage for a laborer.

This parable teaches me the attitude I need to have with my brother. I have to remember that God has forgiven me so much. My brother can do nothing against me that will compare to what I have done against God. So when my brother is stumbling, struggling, or sinning, what should I do? The simple answer is to respond with love. In I Cor. 13 we learn that love hopes, endures, is patient, and kind. So instead of annoyance, we should feel concern and sadness. Jude 22 & 23 gives us our directions: “And have mercy on those who doubt; save others by snatching them out of the fire; to others show mercy with fear, hating even the garment stained by the flesh.” (ESV) I don’t see any indication that we should be bothered by a brother’s struggles.

Today’s personal challenge: I will have a more Christ-like attitude toward my brothers.

— Zane

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