HOW TO HELP FRIENDS BALANCE OUT THEIR EMPHASIS ON THE "DO'S AND DON'TS" OF SCRIPTURE
Some of our Christian friends tend to struggle with an over emphasis on the "don'ts of scripture." At the heart of the problem is an inability to grow in all aspects of one's faith. Some people attend church all their lives, but are still infants in respect to their faith. They rely on disciplines that are mainly fit for a child. Deficiencies in one's spiritual growth may lead to more serious character defects later in life. One's inability to practically apply all aspects of the scripture may lead to a retarding of spiritual development in key dimensions of life.
One day an elderly pastor saw a crowd of boys surrounding a cute puppy dog. Eager anticipations marked every boy's face as they eyed the dog. "What is everybody so happy about this morning?" the old Reverend asked. "We are having a contest to see who wins this new puppy," replied the oldest boy. "What are the rules, I would like to get in on the contest," half jokingly, the pastor said. "Whoever is able to tell the biggest lie wins the dog!" said the young boy in the group. Shocked, the elderly Pastor said, "Oh boys, When I was a young boy about your ages, I NEVER ever told a lie!"
The boys paused and looked at each other with sheer amazement for nearly a whole minute. Finally, the oldest boy spoke, "Here's the dog, Mister! None of us could ever beat that story!"
The Pastor won by inadvertently failing to acknowledge either his overt or covert mis-statements of the past. He had failed to grow in one critical area that even young boys noticed.
We all have areas of our lives that we are consciously or unconsciously not where we would like to be. Each of us need others to help us discover our blind spots. We all need greater humility, love or holiness. We never grow too old to improve.
On the other hand, some ultra conservatives believe that by warning people about what NOT to do they can help preserve some kind of innate morality. Some Christians see their principal enemies as outside of themselves in the form of a rival, Satan, or a carnal group of people. Instead, most ultra conservatives would do well to remember that their greatest enemy is within their own sinful human nature. Some individuals need to focus on overcoming the enemy that is within their own sinful nature before they engage in protests against abortion clinics, homosexuals, or even the alleged sexual indiscretions of leaders of state. Anybody who tells you he has never made a mistake is probably relying on a poor memory - theirs or yours!
Jesus said, "What comes out of a man is what makes him unclean. For from within, out of men's hearts, come evil thoughts, sexual immorality, theft, murder, adultery, greed, malice, deceit, lewdness, envy, slander, arrogance, and folly" (Mark 7:20,21). Every outward act of sin is proceeded by an inward act of choice. Therefore, Jesus addresses the root cause of man's worst problem - sin. Sin is missing the mark of God's holiness in our character, thinking and actions. Sin is like a thief - it seeks to kill, slaughter, steal and destroy (John 10:10). Sin is unclean like pigs - 2 Peter 2:22 says, "Of them the proverbs are true; 'A dog returns to its vomit" and 'A sow that is washed goes back to her wallowing in the mud." Sin is poisonous like a viper. Psalm 140:3 says, "They make their tongues as sharp as a serpents; the poison of vipers is on their lips." Sin is like a cancer as it destroys from within. James writes, "What causes fights and quarrels among you? Don't they come from your desires that battle within you? You want something but don't get it so you fight and quarrel. You kill and covet, but you cannot have what you want" (James 4:1,2). The following Biblical admonishments show how to balance the don'ts with the do's when it comes to our interpersonal relationships:
Interpersonal Do's and Don'ts
1. Love one another as Jesus Christ has loved you. (John 13:34,35)
2. Be devoted to one another in brotherly love and pursue Godly goals together. (Romans 12:10)
3. Honor one another above yourself and speak affirmingly to each other with respect. (Rom. 12:10)
4. Share with God's people who are in need. Practice hospitality. (Romans 12:13)
5. Bless those who persecute you. Rejoice with those who rejoice; mourn with those who mourn. (Rom.12:14)
6. Live in harmony with one another. Be willing to associate with people of low position. (Rom. 12:16)
7. Do what is right in the eyes of everybody. If it is possible, live at peace with everyone. (Rom 12:17,18)