This article is a follow-up to What God Calls Us To Be.
On August 18, 1988, George H. W. Bush received his party's nomination for president of the United States. In his acceptance speech, he calls for a "kinder, gentler nation." Unfortunately, over the past 30+ years, we have not become kinder nor gentler. The state of uncivility that presently exists seems to be worse than ever. At one time, you could read an article online about any subject of your choosing and then write your thoughts in the comments section. People are so intolerant of others; they have become nastier and nastier in their comments towards others. Sometimes calling people, they don’t even know names. Most of the news feeds have stopped allowing comments. People point their fingers at many different causes of uncivility, but regardless of where the blame is laid, we must accept responsibility for our actions, especially towards others.
It has been generally accepted by most people that we have a responsibility to respect one another and treat others like we want to be treated. When I was young, it was called the Golden Rule. This is the principle from the Bible: “So in everything, do to others what you would have them do to you, for this sums up the Law and the Prophets.” (Matthew 7:12)
As Christians, we have a much deeper responsibility to one another than just being civil. We are to be God’s instruments; therefore, we have a duty to influence others for God. He expects this from us. God’s commands are our guidance for treatment of others. What does God say about our responsibility towards one another? Look at a few of God’s instructions in the following verses.
Matthew 22:37-39 – We are instructed by Jesus to love one another. There are many passages in the Bible about loving one another. A good one is I Corinthians 13. I can have all kinds of talents and gifts, but if I don’t love, it means nothing. Love is kind, patient, not envious, not boastful, not proud, not rude, not self-seeking, does not become angry easily, does not remember wrongs done to us, does not find joy in evil things, rejoices in the truth. It always protects, trusts, hopes, and perseveres. Love will never fail when I am trying to influence someone for God. I provide the love, and God will do the rest!
Galatians 6:10: “Therefore, as we have opportunity, let us do good to all people, especially to those who belong to the family of believers.”
This entire chapter is guidance to our relationship with others and our attitude toward our responsibilities. We constantly have opportunities to do good by displaying a Christian attitude to others every time we have contact with them. Paul says, to do good to ALL people. He does not make exceptions. Does Paul mean everybody? The only noted exception is to make sure to treat those who are believers as special people. At church, even though we may only have a moment with one another, that’s an important moment. Others note my presence to worship, and a warm greeting continues my positive influence. Why would I act otherwise; after all, they are in the family of believers?
Many commentators believe this verse is an instruction on helping those in need. At Southside, we help many people in need, but believers come first.
Colossians 3:12-17: Paul’s instruction tells us that as God’s chosen people, we are to show compassion, kindness, humility, gentleness, patience, and to bear or put up with one another. (Kay tells me that putting up with me is a tall order). We are reminded to forgive one another as the Lord forgave us. If God can forgive a sinner like me, who am I not to forgive others? Show peace in our hearts and teach, admonish one another and whatever we do, commit it to the Lord Jesus. This is all about my responsibility to act as an influence on you as a Christian. If I demonstrate to you these characteristics with a commitment to God in my heart, what happens now is in God’s hands.
Matthew 7:1-5: Jesus instructs us on passing judgment on one another. Passing judgment means to declare someone guilty and pass on them a sentence – like a judge does in a court. Some people decide they need to help God and are willing to let you know that hell is in your future. This duty is reserved for God (James 4:12).
There are many passages offering instruction on admonishing one another, correcting one another and bringing someone back into the church. This a very delicate responsibility. Often when people are approached about correction they need in their lives, their response is Matthew 7, “Don’t you dare judge me until you take care of all your problems!” Frankly, we would have to be very close for me to approach you in this manner. I do not feel it’s a talent I have, so I would pray about you and let you know. It’s very easy to rationalize my way out of responsibilities by claiming no talent. Is this a cop-out? Probably, so I need to be bold in Christ and approach you in love, not judgment. Otherwise, what do I tell God on judgment day?
Romans 12:9-21: Paul repeats several the Christian characteristics that we have already reviewed. He does add love must be sincere, honor one another above ourselves, practice hospitality, bless those who persecute us, be willing to associate with those in a low position, do not be conceited, do not look for revenge and live in peace with everyone.
1 Timothy 2:1: First of all, then, I urge that supplications, prayers, intercessions, and thanksgivings be made for all people,
But I say to you, Love your enemies and pray for those who persecute you
The preceding verses teach me that you are to be in my prayers. If I am aware that you have a need, then I’m to go to God on your behalf. That’s a lot of responsibility, especially expecting me to pray for my enemies. As I think about my prayers, most are for my family, friends, and Southside members. There are maybe two folks I pray for who I do not like (no one at Southside). Thinking about people who are not my enemies and do not necessarily persecute me but are rude, egotistical, and sometimes hateful, I can expand my prayer list. This is a responsibility!
Should we treat people differently based on their relationship with us in life? Should our treatment of family differ from friends, fellow Christians, and work colleagues? What about those that are in authority? Does a person’s status in life make a difference in how we should treat them?
The general answer is “NO” to all these questions but I Timothy 5:8 tells us – “But if any do not take care of their relatives, especially the members of their own family, they have denied the faith and are worse than an unbeliever.” Responsibility for the family is a must!
This a lot of responsibility and yes, I fail in carrying these out. That’s Satan's work. But God’s work of sacrificing Jesus for my failures trumps Satan’s work!
We could look at many more verses that give more responsibilities to one another, but it’s time to bring this to a conclusion. What a wonderful world for us to live in if we accepted these responsibilities and put them into practice. Polls show that people select the church they attend because they are primarily looking for sermons straight from the Bible and about the same percentage say they are looking for the feeling of being accepted. I believe they get both at Southside. My question is: Am I living up to my responsibilities outlined in the verses given?
Folks, we need to fulfill our responsibilities to one another.
Consider the following words from Max Lucado:
Discover this mystery: as you help others face their days, you put life into your own. And life is exactly what many people need.
One of the secrets in life is that we really lead a better life when we're living for others than we do when we're living for ourselves, and I think that's the way for our creator intended for it to be, is that if we can live for other people, we really leave this world in a different way.
Max Lucado quotes from this website: https://www.quotetab.com/quotes/by-max-lucado#S8jjgTIpY4jrLsRY.97