The Gospel Helps Us Hold Others in High RegardFriday, July 22, 2005
One of the most valuable commodities we possess as Christians is our attitudes towards each other. Protecting the reputations of others in our minds is so vital to Christianity. Maintainnig our high and good opinions of others is largely what maintains the unity of the Spirit in the bond of peace (Eph. 4:1-3).
The moment we allow ourselves to be critical or judgmental of someone else, our view of them becomes denigrated, and our opinion of them degraded. We just don't see them as we used to, and we seem to not respect them as much anymore. Our minds and hearts slowly and strangely begin to view them as less than honorable, not worth our emotional or filial investment any longer. And before you know it we are talking about them to others with less than respectable speech, if not downright gossip and slander, degrading their reputation in the eyes of others also.
But if the gospel remains the active agent in all our relationships, then forgiveness, gentleness, patience, meekness, humility and forbearance will maintain a foster a spirit of unity, just as these same things maintain unity between the Heavenly Father and ourselves.
This is the reason the text of Ephesians 4:1-3 got put where it did, right before one of the most formidable passages on the doctrine of the church. And that is also the reason why this formidable chapter on the church ends the way it does - on kindness, forgiveness, and tenderheartdness (4:29-32). The church just can't function with any degree of health, growth, nor unity when its members are not doing all they can, with regard to these qualities, to maintain their loving opinion and respect for one another in their hearts and minds regardless of what we may do to each other.
Does the gospel function this way in your relationships with other saints? Does it function this way with your wife? Your husband? Your children? Your annoying coworker? Your pastor? Your church leadership? Your nosy neighbor? Does it function this way with everybody you know (including your stubborn Beagle!)?