Saturday, June 2, 2012

Believe the Best of Others

1 Corinthians 13:7 - LOVE “bears all things, believes all things, hopes all things, endures all things.”

We love to jump to conclusions about others. Being on both sides of this, I am learning to believe the best of people. Assuming the worst can very easily lead to slander.

 An example of something so simple being blown up into the hugest of proportions is when I was seen gathering signatures for a petition.  Someone saw this, and assumed that I was petitioning to have an elder kicked out of the church.  Without asking me what I was actually doing, they started telling people their version.

 This gossip and slander – this lie - spread like wildfire throughout several cities, tainting my reputation, as well as my husband’s.  People warned each other that we were rebellious, did not respect authority, and were not to be trusted...

 What I was really doing was helping someone collect signatures for a petition to be sent to the government on some sort of social issue.  So, yes, I was seen physically collecting signatures, but the worst had been assumed.  And instead of speaking directly to me and asking me what I was actually doing – they caused huge and unnecessary rifts and suspicions among several congregations which carried on for more than 15 years.

All of this went on behind our backs for so long, by the time I learned who had started it all, we were thousands of miles apart with no way to contact them.  Sadly, the vile story which was based on a very innocent action - caused widespread damage.   I have forgiven that person in my heart, and I pray they realize their error;  and that all recipients and participants of the slander will seek truth rather than believe lies. And I sincerely pray that we as Christians vigilantly guard our thoughts about others and our words.

Friday, May 11, 2012


Matthew 18:15 “If your brother sins, go and show him his fault in private; if he listens to you, you have won your brother.” 

It is not necessarily a sin to have differences of opinion. There are issues where there is not a clear right or wrong – like choosing which fast-food restaurant you like the most.   So it is okay to agree-to-disagree in many instances.

The verse from Matthew is very clear, “IF your brother sins...” If you do approach a Christian with some issue that you see is wrong, you better make sure it actually IS wrong.  As well, this should be a sin that is more habitual to that person... more of a lifestyle choice which is damaging to themselves, as well as others.

 Most of us have a pretty good idea when we’ve made a mistake, so we do not need someone to point out all our tiny slip-ups. When you do notice someone else’s sins – ALWAYS believe the best! Assume the best of them, AND if you need to know, or want to address the issue with them – approach THEM in private to discuss it.

 I have seen many instances get out of hand, and then in the end, find out it was a simple misunderstanding. I had a friend who was once avoiding me for some reason.  Finally I cornered her and asked if I had done something wrong. Apparently she had waved at me one Sunday and I had totally ignored her. Ah! Well, that was because I had not been wearing my contact lenses that day and did not even see her. Something so simple could have still caused grief for many years to come. Of course, she could have shortened her time of distress exponentially by coming to talk to me that very day she saw me “ignore” her. The best and easiest approach for her to have taken would have been, “Hey, I was waving at you, and you SEEMED to have been ignoring me. Is anything wrong?”

Even though it is very scary to approach a person, with the chance to hear that you may have done something wrong – and may have to apologize for something - it is so worth it in the end.

Tuesday, April 10, 2012

Cheerful Giving is Living Right

2 Corinthians 9:7 “Each one must do just as he has purposed in his heart, not grudgingly or under compulsion, for God loves a cheerful giver.” Matthew 5:23-24 “Therefore if you are presenting your offering at the altar, and there remember that your brother has something against you, leave your offering there before the altar and go; first be reconciled to your brother, and then come and present your offering.”

 Up until now, whenever I read that first verse, I always thought it was just about the giving. But when you put it in the context of the entire Bible, which would include the second verse listed here, it becomes to mean so much more. If you are living the way you should, at peace with your “brother,” then you will have the “cheerful” disposition while serving and giving to the Lord.

When we look at the example of Cain and Abel in Genesis 4, God compares their offerings. Abel’s shortcomings was not because he gave fruit from his fields, while Cain gave animals from his flocks. It came down to their attitudes. We can assume that Abel was living right with the Lord, and therefore gave the very best to God. But Cain had something against his brother, and was not living in complete joy and peace with the Lord. Cain did not give the best of what God had allowed him to grow and gather, but gave the leftovers from his crop-yield with an angry, bitter attitude. Instead of adjusting this attitude and getting right with God and his brother, he thought he could pretend his way through obeying God, and let his hatred go to the point of murdering Abel.

Well, back to the word “brother” from the second verse listed above. This is to be interpreted as our Christian siblings – brothers OR sisters. We are to live in harmony with each and every one of them. Our love for God should be spilling out to those around us... especially to those closest! And when we are practicing and experiencing this, this will impact how we serve and give - it is the evidence of our close walk with God.

Sunday, March 11, 2012

The Truth

John 14:6 “Jesus said to him, ‘I am the way, and the truth, and the life; no one comes to the Father but through Me.’”

Truth does not depend on what we believe, or how much we believe in something. Truth is a fact, and there are no quirks around that. There can only be one truth. Either something “is” – or it “isn’t.” It is either one way or another way.

I am going to use the analogy of a table. The table will represent God and all that He stands for. Although, if speaking to any skeptic, I would say that the table merely represents Truth – whatever that is. (Seek and you shall find it.)

My kitchen table is round. If you got to know me and trust me, you could decide to believe me. You could even decide to believe that I actually had a square table. Or, you could decide to boldly declare that I did not have any table at all. But no matter how emphatically you believed that, it would not change the fact that I do have a table, and that it is indeed round.

People who visit can see and confirm that I do have a round table. After eating a meal at my table, if they had an enjoyable meal, they would probably be more apt to believe and declare that my table is round. But let us say that I served a terrible meal, or that during the meal the friendship broke down and spiraled into quarreling and bitterness. One might feel disgruntled enough to start making claims that the table was in fact square. Or that the table did not even exist. It would not be the table’s fault that I didn’t know how to cook well. And it would not be the table’s fault that we began to argue. Why would one blame or denounce the table because of my shortcomings?

We sometimes do that with God. We look at the faults of the people around us associated with Christianity and the Church, and then transfer that disappointment and disdain towards God. To have a “bad experience” because of quirky individuals should not cause us to see God any differently. We are all not perfect. And that is why we all need God. If we are wise, we would seek the Truth and look directly to God for all the answers.

Monday, January 9, 2012

Faith and Hope

Hebrews 11:1-3 “Now faith is the assurance of things hoped for, the conviction of things not seen. For by it the men of old gained approval. By faith we understand that the worlds were prepared by the word of God, so that what is seen was not made out of things which are visible.”

I always have the toughest time wrapping my head around the differences between faith and hope. After being a Christian for so many years, I can see how my faith has continued to grow stronger, and my hope is more and more “confirmed.” My “hope” is way more than just wishful thinking, but rather the thing that I move towards because it does give me hope. I see it as more of the “light at the end of the tunnel.” The longer I go through life (the tunnel), the closer I get to the end of it - the bigger the light becomes. See? Not so easy to explain.

While I was on a trip with my husband, I came up with an interesting example to put this into some perspective. After a few sleepless nights, and one long day of traveling, my hope was to have a great night’s sleep in a nice hotel. There were reservations, and we knew the hotel existed, but we still had to get there.

While navigating through unknown territories, we have come to rely on things like GPS systems. And we put a good amount of faith in these things – blindly following their directions. But the more we use them successfully, the more faith we have in them – with the hope of getting us to our destinations. God’s word, as well as His Holy Spirit, is like our spiritual GPS system.

So this hotel – we knew it existed because we had caught “glimpses” of it from their website. But even as we neared it physically, we still could not see it from the road – even as the GPS system said “Your destination is on the right. You have arrived!” Looking to the right, all we could see was a gas station and a restaurant. But obeying the command, we made the right-hand turn, and only THEN could we see that it was indeed there. The driveway’s entrance was tucked in between the two other buildings.

Had we doubted the GPS system and instead trusted in our own wisdom and thinking, we would have driven right past it. Just so, I am continually grateful to God who gives us “hope” - glimpses of “heaven” through creation, His word and evidences of how He faithfully works in our lives. When we sincerely search for truth, we just have to learn to have faith that God’s GPS system will bring us right to it!