Where is the credible witness?

So I was sitting in my office at the church this morning going through some email when I heard a conversation from down the hall. I couldn’t make out the details or the subject of the conversation but the sheer volume of it made it impossible to ignore. Regardless of the subject matter, there was an apparent disagreement that was escalating, from one side of the dialogue at least. The exchange lasted for about two minutes and then it was over. Both participants went back to their corners…I mean…their offices. It was just then that the thought occurred to me: Am I in the right office? Did I accidentally drive to the wrong location this morning and stumble into a stereotypical secular office building? Clearly this is what has happened because I’m quite sure I wouldn’t be hearing this type of banter in the office complex of a church.

Then the reality sank in. I was in the right office. I did hear an unpleasant, heated exchange between two people that serve with me…in the church. So what gives? Why did this happen? Why is it evidently so easy for those who claim to be disciples of Jesus to treat their brothers and sisters so poorly? Are they really disciples of Jesus? Has Jesus really done a work in their heart? Are they just having a bad day? Are they only human (and sinful)? Is that a sufficient reason for behaving so badly? What does the Bible have to say about such a situation?

These questions and others were flooding my mind. I was tempted to ask both parties to come sit in my office for a few minutes so we could pray and then talk about what had just happened. I felt the need to address the situation despite the fact that I was not directly involved in it. However, I did not. I just sat in my office sorting through the range of emotions that I was feeling at that moment…surprise, disappointment, personal conviction. And no, I was not feeling personal conviction about not having said something about it. I was feeling conviction about how many times that I have been the one who has engaged in the exact same behavior.

Two passages of Scripture came to mind as a result of this morning’s events. Romans 1:28-32 and James 3:5b-12.

And just as they did not see fit to acknowledge God any longer, God gave them over to a depraved mind, to do those things which are not proper, being filled with all unrighteousness, wickedness, greed, evil; full of envy, murder, strife, deceit, malice; they are gossips, slanderers, haters of God, insolent, arrogant, boastful, inventors of evil, disobedient to parents, without understanding, untrustworthy, unloving, unmerciful; and although they know the ordinance of God, that those who practice such things are worthy of death, they not only do the same, but also give hearty approval to those who practice them.

See how great a forest is set aflame by such a small fire! And the tongue is a fire, the very world of iniquity; the tongue is set among our members as that which defiles the entire body, and sets on fire the course of our life, and is set on fire by hell. For every species of beasts and birds, of reptiles and creatures of the sea, is tamed and has been tamed by the human race. But no one can tame the tongue; it is a restless evil and full of deadly poison. With it we bless our Lord and Father, and with it we curse men, who have been made in the likeness of God; from the same mouth come both blessing and cursing. My brethren, these things ought not to be this way. Does a fountain send out from the same opening both fresh and bitter water? Can a fig tree, my brethren, produce olives, or a vine produce figs? Nor can salt water produce fresh.

Sometimes I wonder if we really believe what the Bible says. The reason I have this thought is simply because I observe my own behavior. I know intellectually that the Bible is true, but unfortunately I constantly fall short in obedience to it. Vance Havner said it this way. “What you live is what you really believe. Everything else is just a lot of religious talk.”

Gracious Heavenly Father, grant that my deeds would reflect my creed to the glory of God.

Mike. Out.


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