Sunday, March 14, 2010

All The Right Reasons ...

1 Corinthians 3:1-4 And I, brethren, could not speak to you as to spiritual men, but as to men of flesh, as to infants in Christ. I gave you milk to drink, not solid food; for you were not yet able to receive it. Indeed, even now you are not yet able, for you are still fleshly. For since there is jealousy and strife among you, are you not fleshly, and are you not walking like mere men? For when one says, “I am of Paul,” and another, “I am of Apollos,” are you not mere men?

Sometimes, it becomes apparent to me that I am naive. This happens often when I miss the reality of the above verse in communicating with others in the course of daily life. For example, when I am talking to another Christian I assume they would want me to be truthful with them. The fact is that in many cases, nothing could be further from the truth. This can result in the loss of friendship with people you love as has been the case in my personal experience. People come to a false conclusion that since they are getting on in years that this aging somehow computes to spiritual maturity. They become successful in business, parents, and even grandparents and have gained wisdom in the ways of the world, and others come to them for advice and help. But all of this has little or nothing to do with spiritual maturity. Speak carefully, or you are liable you lose what you thought was a strong relationship with a supposed mature Christian over foolishness and pride.

In reality, spiritual maturity and aging might have no correlation whatsoever.
Growing older does bring maturity in other ways though which causes confusion. This problem is especially true when the person in question is a Christian. How many Christians do you know that seldom meditate on verses that point out the ways that the Lord would have them change to grow spiritually. They religiously go to church and take notes, and they say prayers, which is a form of spiritual discipline, but when does the application that leads to spiritual transformation take place? To be able to say I have been a Christian for 25 years convinces the person that they have spiritual maturity, but the question needs to be how does Christ measure maturity?

A few years ago I was in a discussion with a Christian who was questioning another’s maturity due to the person’s young age. Without thinking, I replied that when considered from a spiritual maturity perspective, I am convinced that this young person is more mature than you are. Well … I did not mean this as an insult, but surely that was the way it was taken. I went on to explain that, age has nothing to do with it. If we measured the maturity of this young person from the perspective of being a loving person (Christ’s measure), she is far more mature spiritually than I am as well, I explained … so don’t take my comments personally. I am only trying to be honest. Needless to say, the person was insulted and the relationship has never been the same. I am convinced that one day when that person considers what it means to allow the love of Christ to control them, our relationship might be restored.

This is a big issue that can lead to all sorts of personal conflicts. First of all, I should not have said what I said … even if it is true. Although it was being said to someone who was judging someone else, if I was being a loving person, I would not have put them in their place. Speaking before I think is one of my biggest faults. But I must admit that it is hard not to challenge someone who is a Christian, but who is clearly not following the love of Christ. Understanding when Christ would want me to speak out and when he would want me to hold my tongue is something I need to meditate and pray about.

Even writing this post could easily be misunderstood. But wouldn’t that prove my point … if this post was offensive to someone?
I have not attacked anyone here. A mature Christian should want to hear the truth from another’s perspective. If the person is controlled by the love of Christ, regardless of what someone else says, they would put on the mind of Christ and respond accordingly. A loving response would be evidence that would demonstrate that I am wrong. In any event, it should never end a friendship or family relationship. Christians should never allow the sun to go down over any issue that has angered them. This anger leads to bitterness which allows for the devil to come in and control their heart and mind. That is what the foolish people of the world do. But the fact is that many Christians are still controlled by their pride and react accordingly.

The fact of the matter is that we are all babes in Christ … for a period of time. We have the choice to take steps towards maturity or … not. Maturity differs from person to person. Some mature quickly, some never mature. We do not decide … I am mature. We can be a spiritually immature grandparent, a spiritually mature teenager, or many points of growth in between. Only God can ultimately conclude that we have reached maturity and He rewards us accordingly. How many church leaders or pastors have been confirmed by an entire congregation only to fall into disgrace in one area, or another. But we all can see it when Christ’s loving qualities become a reality in someone else. And it will also be apparent when these qualities are lacking. I have had the privilege of knowing a few Christians who are living the Love of Christ, day after day, year after year! ... I love you Kiki.
And I submit to you, this is the mark of a mature Christian.

Sometimes a person can try to be a loving person but the motivation is for all of the wrong reasons. Reread below from the previous post:

If I speak with the tongues of men and of angels, but do not have love, I have become a noisy gong or a clanging cymbal. If I have the gift of prophecy, and know all mysteries and all knowledge; and if I have all faith, so as to remove mountains, but do not have love, I am nothing. And if I give all my possessions to feed the poor, and if I surrender my body to be burned, but do not have love, it profits me nothing.

These verses describe a man who is a great communicator, a man filled with wisdom and knowledge, who has faith that can move mountains, who gives everything he owns of value to the poor, and who sacrifices his whole life for others. I know this description sounds like the most loving person you have ever met. Certainly a candidate for "Man of the Year" But apparently he did all of these things for all of the wrong reasons. This person lacked the type of loving heart that Jesus is talking about and as a result … it profits him nothing.

So this post begs the question: What motivations are all the right reasons?

We are not again commending ourselves to you but are giving you an occasion to be proud of us, so that you will have an answer for those who take pride in appearance and not in heart. For if we are beside ourselves, it is for God; if we are of sound mind, it is for you. For the love of Christ controls us, having concluded this, that one died for all, therefore all died; and He died for all, so that they who live might no longer live for themselves, but for Him who died and rose again on their behalf ... There's only one right reason!
God Bless You My Friends, Bob