Worth Fighting; How should we then Live?

Vol. 8-34 – 08-20-2023 – Worth Fighting; How Should We then Live?

Worth the Fight

I, therefore, the prisoner for the Lord, urge you to walk in a manner worthy of the calling to which you have been called, with all humility and gentleness, with patience, bearing with one another in love, eager to maintain the unity of the Spirit in the bond of peace. –Ephesians 4:1-3

Have you noticed that, more often than not, our country is engaged in endless arguments? Not just in politics, but in ideologies, philosophies, race confrontations, gender issues, road rage, check-out lanes, and product availabilities. It is pervasive.

Would our nation be stronger and more peaceful if we could just get along? I remember a song, maybe you do as well. It was used in a Coca-Cola advertisement: I’d Like to Teach the World to Sing (in perfect harmony). I would expect that you might sing it. This major corporation would be laughed off the stage today in calling for tolerance back then, and their focused lack of tolerance today.

There are perhaps three main reasons for these arguments (fights): Preference. Sin. Convictions.

Preference. If you are like me, you recognize preferences as the number one cause of arguments. It bleeds over into the other two, but preference dominates. The chief outcome is often sin. Have you ever used critical thinking or critical reading to examine your preferences? Most of our preferences do not matter. Take baseball as an example. How many ways can you get to first base? Do they all count? (Actually, one of the ways hurt.)

Think of the arguments you have had over your life. How many are really important? Matter? Mexican or Chinese? Meat or Vegan? Save it or Spend it. Praise music or Hymns? VBS, morning or evening? Choir or Praise Band? Who moved your cheese?

Why would Paul tell believers to be careful to use gentleness, patience, and be humble? Might it have anything to do with reaching the lost?

Sin. Lots of disagreements are rooted in sin. Unfortunately, many of us are selfish, even happens in the church. We have been asked to move more than once in some churches we visited. We had someone’s seat. We meet people who are of the opinion it is their way or the highway. Or we, ourselves go to lengths to make sure things turn out to our benefit. I could recommend a few Amish families from which they could learn.

Gossip, pride, jealousy, and greed are culprits in this area as well. And then there is the wink at sin. “They are living together, it is OK.” Is it? I have asked couples who came to me to perform their marriage to move apart if they wanted me to do their marriage. I never had to apologize for that.

Convictions. This is the third consideration for arguments. Conviction is a firmly held belief. A frequent disagreement is beliefs rooted in the Scriptures. Last year the number of churches that left the United Methodist denomination totaled nearly 40%. It is still continuing. It relates to what commitment their churches give to the Scriptures. There is considerable disagreement in the denomination.

Sometimes, in churches, disagreements surface on the Bible version used. My preference is the NASB. However, our church uses the ESV. So, I teach from the ESV to be consistent with the Bible version choice made in the church. Most disagreements are better handled in this way. The NASB and ESV are both reliable translations. There should be no disagreements in using these Bibles. Be careful to choose disagreements carefully and use the Scriptures rightly in support of your disagreement. With gentleness and respect (1 Peter 3:15). A dear friend, who was a U.S. Marine, told me that I always needed to take care to choose the hill on which I was willing to battle. True.

How Should We Then Live

If I am to live in the flesh, that means fruitful labor for me. yet which I shall choose I cannot tell. I am hard-pressed between the two. My desire is to depart and be with Christ, for that is far better. But to remain in the flesh is more necessary on your account. Convinced of this, I know that I will remain and continue with you all, for your progress and joy in the faith. –Philippians 1:22-25

I could not help but borrow this title from Francis Schaeffer.

In our Community Group, where I teach, we keep an up-to-date prayer list. Lately, I have provided a separate section to list folks we pray for as they work through cancer. I noted that when I did that, it was a considerable-sized block. The disease is prevalent. These folks are dear. While we may not see victory over the disease this side of heaven, we need to be faithful to pray for God’s will in their healing and ask for comfort and relief with regard to the pain and sickness that the disease brings.

Back in the day, when Paul was ministering in parts of Europe and the mid-East, he was imprisoned, by a government (Rome) that tortured and crucified Christians. Paul had no question about his future on earth; he was going to die. He did not know exactly when. So, those who loved him prayed for him.

I struggled, not long ago, with a problem with my gall bladder. It was not a fun thing. When I went to the doctor, he immediately ordered me to radiology. Radiology takes the best pictures: so, I asked for 8 x 10s. You have to know me to understand my approach to things.

Radiology sent me home and told me that they would call. Twenty minutes after I arrived home the ER called and wanted me back. So, I drove. Donna went with me. My gall bladder was just over 300% enlarged. After they moved me to a room, I blanked out. For three days. After I regained consciousness, they took me to surgery. The surgeon told me that they did not think I would make it to surgery. They expected my death two days before surgery.

I knew people were praying. I could sense it. I do know that God answers prayers for healing, sometimes healing this side of heaven, other times perfect healing in our trip to heaven. Either way was OK with me.

God mysteriously uses believers in difficult circumstances. Those who have life-threatening illnesses can have powerful testimonies for Christ. Paul is correct. He says that what happened to him served to advance the Gospel. THAT is what we must keep in mind as we experience the seasons of life we travel.

Whatever happens, Paul says, let your manner of life be worthy of the Gospel of Christ. –Philippians 1:27

One day, God will do away with sin, sickness, and death. Until that takes place fully, we can trust God to manage these things in our lives with the intent to show Jesus to the world. He can use us to point others to Him.

Life Application

A note we should consider: God uses Paul in such a way to confront the unsaved and churches that do not practice biblical principles. He does not tell Paul to strive for unity at any cost. There are times when we must speak up.

If our disagreements are brought forth under preferences, sin, or conviction, we need to pray and ask God how He wants us to handle the issues. Running at the problems like a bull in a China Shop only breaks dishes. Actually, it breaks more than that.

Remember that the Word is sharper than any two-edged sword. Be familiar with it. It is reliable. Depending on the answer, you can yield your preference, sin, or conviction according to the truth of Scripture. Always with gentleness and respect.

Trust God to honor your step of faith.

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Written by Dr. Larry Lightner

August 20, 2023

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