The practice of Christianity is to think of others first. How good are we at this discipline? It’s a daily struggle for me!
3 When wickedness comes, contempt comes also,
and with dishonor comes disgrace. Proverbs 18:3
When our thoughts become self-centered, we exalt ourselves. The next step down this slippery slope is to hold others in contempt. In other words, we look down upon them. It shows up in several ways:
- We ignore them.
- We order them around.
- We become sarcastic to them.
- We become angry quickly with them.
- We speak harshly to them.
- We say hurtful things to them.
- We are liable to steal from them, say all manner of false things about them, and even kill them (character assassination).
To sum it all up, we assume the devil’s own attitude.
What does Jesus call us to be? Paul tells us in Ephesians 4:
1 As a prisoner for the Lord, then, I urge you to live a life worthy of the calling you have received. 2 Be completely humble and gentle; be patient, bearing with one another in love. 3 Make every effort to keep the unity of the Spirit through the bond of peace. Ephesians 4:1-3
Paul doesn’t leave any room for limits. Neither did Jesus:
3 So watch yourselves.
“If your brother sins, rebuke him, and if he repents, forgive him. 4 If he sins against you seven times in a day, and seven times comes back to you and says, ‘I repent,’ forgive him.” Luke 17:3-4
21 Then Peter came to Jesus and asked, “Lord, how many times shall I forgive my brother when he sins against me? Up to seven times?”
22 Jesus answered, “I tell you, not seven times, but seventy-seven times [daily]. Matthew 18:21-22
As we can see, Jesus meant EVERY TIME. It’s infinite. We are ALWAYS to forgive them, even while disciplining them. Sometimes, boundaries need to be installed until the other person learns discipline and to respect those boundaries. There is nothing wrong with respectfully defending those boundaries as long as we do not slip into contempt, as well.
The key is to keep Jesus’ New Covenant command in mind:
34 “A new command I give you: Love one another. As I have loved you, so you must love one another. 35 By this all men will know that you are my disciples, if you love one another.” John 13:34-35
Did you catch His point? LOVE ONE ANOTHER. Let’s get busy.