Tag Archives: unity

Grudge Not!

I can’t seem to get away with gossip. What I mean is that I usually get caught red-handed, or maybe I should say foot-in-mouth. Here’s how it happens. I complain about someone—in confidence to another friend—only to turn around and discover that the person about whom I’m speaking is right behind me! Or within earshot. Now the person didn’t necessarily hear what I said about them. But I’m ashamed and convicted, nevertheless. Busted, as my kids used to say!

I remember once in junior high school that I casually pointed out to my friend that a rather awkward boy in our class “ran kinda funny” on the playground. I turned around and gasped as I noticed that same boy had changed seats and was sitting right behind me! Did he overhear my thoughtless comment? I was never quite sure, but I felt terrible. The thought still makes my face flush, all these years later.

This kind of thing has happened often enough that I’m now very watchful about my words. It’s as though the Lord just won’t let me get away with speaking badly about someone. Perhaps it’s because He knows that words can be so destructive. Not just to the hearer, but also to the speaker.

The Bible spells it out plainly: “Do not complain against one another, believers, so that you will not be judged [for it]. Look! The Judge is standing right at the door” (James 5:9 AMP).

The word translated as “complain” is stenazo. It means: “to groan, sigh, to give vent to critical or censorious feelings. To call attention to someone’s flaws.”  Other versions use words like grumble, murmur, or groan. I especially like the way this rather antiquated translation puts it: Grudge not, brethren, one against another, that you may not be judged. Behold the judge standeth before the door” (James 5:9 DRA).

My paraphrase? “Grudge not…so that you are not judged!” It’s not just our words that God is warning us about. It’s also the thoughts behind those words.  As believers, we’re on the same side in a war against our enemy, the devil, and his minions.  Grumbling about one another not only hurts feelings, but it breaks our unity.

In 21 Days of Strength, we learned the importance of “sticking together” if we want to be strong—especially in battle. Breaking faith with our fellow believers leaves us especially vulnerable to the enemy. Let’s remember, the word for devil is diabalos, “the divider.” His specialty is strife. As I heard the head of a large organization once say, “I have only one immediate firing offense—stirring up strife.”

Maybe I stepped on your toes today. I sure came down hard on my own. Let’s soberly reflect on the warning in God’s Word: “Grudge not…that you may not be judged.” Like I’ve learned the hard way: The judge might be standing at the door!


Guard Against this Enemy-Day 16

For where envying and strife is, there is confusion and every evil work (James 3:16). 

In order to grow strong in the Lord, we need to stick together.  It’s true. We are better and stronger when we’re part of a team—a body of believers. Who would dream of fighting a war alone?  Or playing against an entire basketball team by ourselves?

I heard a statistic recently that sobered me. Guess why most missionaries leave the field? Not because of living conditions or less creature comforts; not fear of threats like ebola or isis; not rejection or even attacks from the locals; not family issues. The reason most missionaries leave the mission field is because of conflict with other missionaries.

Internal strife is destructive—perhaps the most painful type of conflict. Those who know us best have the power to wound us most deeply. Just ask anyone who has experienced divorce. Continue reading


30 Days of Hopeful: Day 13

So glad you’re joining us for 30 Days of Hopeful.  We’ve been talking about ways to build our hope–sometimes in short supply these days.  It’s clear from God’s Word that hope is vital to our spiritual life.  Crucial to our mental health.  Humans don’t function well without hope.  I’ve even heard it said that “something to look forward to” is a key factor in those who age well.  Let’s face it.  We all need hope.

It’s a mistake, though, to look at hope as a solo journey.  God made us humans to live together in community.  So if we want to be filled with hope, it helps to find some follow travelers with whom we can “do life.”  Sadly, the down side of what Americans refer to as “rugged individualism” is that we sometimes forfeit the teamwork that could help us keep our hope strong.

We learned earlier that through “endurance and the encouragement of the Scriptures we might have hope” (Romans 15:4).  Let’s take another look at the next verse, which reminds us that God is the one who gives us the “hope-giving” endurance and encouragement:  May God, who gives you this endurance and encouragement, allow you to live in harmony with each other by following the example of Christ Jesus” (Romans 15:5 GW).    

Do you see the point here?  God not only gives us endurance, encouragement through His Word, but also the ability to live in harmony together.  And harmony helps keep our hope vibrant and alive.  We see another reason to live in harmony in the next verse:  “So that with one mind and one voice you may glorify the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ” (Romans 15:6).

Simply put, God likes it when we’re like-minded.  And when we live in harmony with one another, it not only fuels our hope, but it also brings Him glory.  And when we glorify God, we can’t help but overflow with hope.  Is there someone in your path today who needs your words of hope-giving encouragement?