Summary: As we put up with each other, and forgive when we need to, the body will be built up. Is there anyone you need to bear with?
Bear With One Another
I have some good news and some bad news this morning. The good news is that everyone who has received Jesus Christ is going to heaven. The bad news is that we’re traveling there together. It’s easy to get out of sorts with those around us, isn’t it? The story is told of a little boy sitting on the front steps with his face cradled in his hands, looking very upset. His father came home and asked him what was wrong. His sad son looked up and said, “Well, just between us, Dad, I’m having trouble getting along with that wife of yours.”
I heard another story about a little girl who was forced to eat alone at a small table in the kitchen as part of her discipline for disobeying. As her parents tried to ignore her, they heard her pray out loud: “I thank Thee, Lord, for preparing a table for me in the presence of mine enemies.”
Some of us have family friction on a regular basis and many of us have experienced fractures in the family of God. As we come to the final installment in our “Body Building” series, we want to focus on the biblical imperative of bearing with one another.
How many of you have seen the movie called, “The Fellowship of the Ring?” In this film, Frodo Baggins inherits a ring, which is an instrument of absolute power. Frodo, together with a fellowship that includes hobbits, humans, a wizard, and an elf, take the One Ring on a journey across middle earth on their way to Mount Doom. This motley crew not only fights external evils, but also has to deal with internal dissension caused by the corruption of the One Ring. As the fellowship fractures because of selfishness, abrasiveness, and friction, the mission’s success is compromised.
Likewise, if the evil one can get us to become annoyed, upset, and out of sync with the saints, our mission will be compromised. As we’ve learned in this series, and as many of us have experienced first hand, every relationship we have is vulnerable and can rupture quite easily. If we don’t work at it, our idiosyncrasies will become irritants and our unity will unravel. That’s why we must follow the exhortation in Ephesians 4:3 to: “Make every effort to keep the unity of the Spirit through the bond of peace.”
Have you ever noticed how easy it is to find something wrong even with beautiful things? God’s most beautiful creation is not a magnificent mountain, a special sunset, or even the State of Wisconsin. The pinnacle of His creativity and His crowning achievement is the church. Ephesians 5:27 says that Jesus loves the church so that she might be radiant in splendor. The blood of Jesus has removed the sins that have stained the church’s wedding gown. What God has declared beautiful, let no one pronounce ugly. According to Ephesians 3:10, it is through the church that God makes known His manifold wisdom to the world.
How is it possible then that an institution that brings pleasure to God and unites people is often filled with bitter complaints, growing grudges, and a lack of forgiveness? Friends, we’re faced with a question this morning: If the Body of Christ is so beautiful, why do believers bug us so much?
This week I checked the Internet for information about annoying people. Amazingly, Google listed over 1.1 million sites! One that I found was entitled, “101 Kinds of Annoying People.” At the end of his rather long diatribe against dumb people, the author wrote, “Even though 101 is a lovely number for a list such as this, the rest of the annoying people in the world are getting off too lightly, so I’m going to continue to add some more.” He finally stopped when he got to 120!
My guess is that you have some difficult people in your life as well and there may be more than 120 things that drive you crazy about them! How many corrosive Christians are eating away at your insides? Who gets on your nerves? Who are the sandpaper saints that rub you the wrong way? I want to suggest this morning that its good to have these kind of people in your life because God can use them to reveal the condition of your own heart.
In a book called “People I Could Do Without,” Donald Smith presents a commentary on conflictive people. He writes that our pent-up irritation can send us into one of two modes: we can go on a “reactionary rampage” or we can respond with a “silent seethe.” It might surprise you to know that the Bible has quite a bit to say about this topic. Our passage for this morning gives us six ways that we can tolerate those who try our patience. While it’s difficult to put up with people who drive us crazy, we must learn to bear with those who bug us.