Tag Archives: love

Being Supportive Doesn’t Always Mean Agreeing

Let me paint you a picture, to illustrate today’s topic. You have a good friend who is completely tone deaf, they can’t hold a tune, but they really love to sing. Yes, we all know such a person, and if you don’t, then you may actually be that person. Let’s say that person comes to you and tells you that they’re going to go on X-Factor, or American Idol, or whatever other show you know of. What do you say? You see we are taught that if you agree with someone, you are being supportive. If you disagree, then you ‘don’t believe in the person’. This is complete nonsense, but we have somewhat come to believe this. How many times do we see people with massive dreams of becoming a singer, who have complete ‘support’ from their friends and family, get humiliated by some ruthless judge in front of the entire nation on TV? My question is simple, “Why hasn’t anyone stopped them before this?”.

Now let me be clear here, I am not talking about speaking negatively into someone’s life. I know that the Bible says that we are more than conquerors in Jesus, and we should have faith. I am not talking about people who try and scare you into not taking a chance. I am merely saying that just because someone disagrees with you, doesn’t mean that they don’t support you. So what am I talking about? I am talking about the times when we live our lives in a way that goes against scripture. Let me use an extreme example. If I were cheating on my wife, and one of my friends found out, what would they do? I would hope that they would call me out in no uncertain terms and tell me to stop. In fact, if one of them actually punched me in the face, I wouldn’t see it as an over-reaction. Now I am not condoning violence, but my point is simple, in supporting people sometimes we may have to disagree with them. People are sometimes going to do the wrong things, and a true friend will stop them. If you really love someone, sometimes you need to stand against their actions. Sometimes, supporting someone means stopping them from doing something stupid. As per the singing example, you stop them from the humiliation of being told the truth on live TV. With other more serious actions, sometimes the consequences could be 100 times worse, so we need to step in and tell people when they are making a bad choice.

I grew up in South Africa, but live in the UK, and I think that it is safe to say that English people often disagree with someone but very seldom tell them. The general ‘socially acceptable’ way here is to have a good moan about the fact that someone is doing something wrong, but don’t actually tell them because you don’t want to upset them. Now before you get upset, this is a gross generalisation, but the generalisation for South Africans is different. We are very quick to go and tell the person that they are wrong and that they should sort themselves out. This is also not the best way, as it is often not done in love, but more from a point of condemnation. I don’t know what the general trend is in the US, as I have never been there, but the bulk of people that read this blog are from the US so maybe you can comment and let me know.

Here is the bottom line. If we truly love and support our friends, we will tell them when they are doing something wrong and encourage them to do it right. We will not condemn, but we will not ignore their actions (or worse, encourage the wrong actions). We are called to hold each other accountable, that is not condemning. We hold each other accountable in order to build them up, the devil condemns in order to tear us down, there is a massive difference between the two. Encouraging people to stop doing what is wrong, is part of encouraging people to do what is right. We are called to do both of those things. So next time your friend opposes you in love, next time they challenge you on something that you are doing, don’t jump down their throat. Ask yourself, is there something that you need to change? Are they right? If they are, then maybe you need to listen to them. If they are not, they are still only trying to help, so go easy on them. Don’t accept negativity over your life, but don’t just disregard anyone who disagrees with you, there may be an important lesson lost.

Until next week.

Richard

Advertisements

Make Your Mark – Part 12

Today’s chapter is one where I actually can take a break from the ‘whirlwind’ book of Mark, as it is one where there are lessons to learn, but nothing as exciting as the last few chapters. Having said that, it is the word of God, and there is always something valuable to learn. I have 3 points from this chapter, but all towards the end. The first few sections are all about the Pharisees trying to catch Jesus out, which just ends up showing them as sinful, which upsets them even more. Anyhow, here are the 3 points which I got out of today’s chapter.

Love is the most important commandment. There is much in the Bible about love, and Jesus leaves no doubt that it is important. Unfortunately we see very little about it today, and when we do hear about it, people generally get it wrong. Lust is not love. Sexual activity is often portrayed as love, this is in fact not true. It should be, but it is not. Acceptance is not love. This is a big issue. We are lead to believe that if we don’t accept people’s sin, we don’t love them. This is complete rubbish. The Bible actually says that if we don’t encourage people to stop sinning, we actually hate them. Leviticus 19 v 17. Do not nurse hatred in your heart for any of your relatives. Confront people directly so you will not be held guilty for their sin. This pretty much says that if we don’t confront people on their sin, it means that we hate them. Wow. We’re told that if we accept sin, then #lovewins, however the Bible say that accepting sin means that #hatewins. I’ll leave you to ponder that now that I have let the worms out of the can.

Hypocritical teachers. This is something that Jesus pointed out, and we’re quick to point fingers at the Pharisees, but does this relate to any of us. Yes, it talks about teachers, but how do we all handle this? Do you say one thing and do another? Do we act ‘holier than thou’ at church, but lie, cheat and deceive at work during the week? I try and be the same person throughout. Christian people often think that I am a bit rough and blunt and my business associates think that I am a saint, but if I were in the same room as both of them, I would be as I usually am. I don’t act differently when I think people are watching. Even this blog, I try to be honest with where I am. If I post something here to teach you, and I don’t put it into practice, my wife will call me on it. It is good that she does that, because I don’t want to be a hypocrite. What do you do that could be hypocritical? Is there anything in your life that you need to be more consistent on, regardless of your present company? I’ll leave you to decide.

God wants our heart, not our money. This is an age old dispute. People say that God hates money, that He doesn’t love the rich, that it is a sin to have money. That is beyond complete nonsense. The thing is that God does want to see us blessed, and He wants to see us bless others. The reason why we are told to give, other than to bless others, is that God knows the hold that money can have on us. People often say that the rich love money, and the poor don’t, I beg to differ. If I had the money that Bill Gates has, I would have no issue giving away millions. If I had no money (which is closer to the truth), and God asked me to give just £50, how would that affect me? I find it harder to give, when I don’t have, than when I do. A little money is precious when it is all you have. That is why Jesus says what He does about the widow. “I tell you the truth, this poor widow has given more than all the others who are making contributions. For they gave a tiny part of their surplus, but she, poor as she is, has given everything she had to live on”. Jesus isn’t interested in getting our money, He is interested in us trusting Him. That is what this woman showed, and that is what He responded to. Do we trust God to this degree? I do try, and I am on a journey to do this more, but sometimes I struggle. How about you?

Until next week.

Richard

Social Media Christianity

I have become more active on Facebook and Google+ in a ministry capacity of late, and I have discovered some quite scary facts, which I would like to address here. Most people are on some sort of social media (at least the ones who will be reading this), so I think that this is important to note. I just hope that people will take some action.

One thing that I have noticed in social media, is that people will type things that they would never say face to face. I have been told by someone that they wished I was dead, however talking to them face to face produced nothing but pleasantries. I see so many very angry comments on posts, yet I would imagine that most of those people posting such comments would not say the same thing when standing face to face with the person they commented to. Why is that?

There are 2 possibilities as far as I can see. Either social media makes us angry and brings out the worst in us, or we have ‘limited’ our face to face behaviour for some reason. The first option doesn’t really make sense. Why would social media make us so angry, and if it does, why are we still on it? Granted, we probably don’t hear everyone’s opinion face to face, but we all feel the need to broadcast it on Facebook. This may be why there is more conflict on social media. However, I am referring to people who I know would not say face to face what they type in social media. This must be in the second category.

Looking at the second category, some scripture comes to mind. Now bear in mind that if you are not a Christian, you may have pointed out that I shouldn’t be ‘judging’ you, and you are correct. This is not a judgement, this is merely an observation, and the scripture which I will quote is not relevant to you, so all that I can suggest is that you try and be the same person on social media that you are socially. As for the Christians, if you think that I shouldn’t be ‘judging’ you, go and look up the word judging so that you know what it actually means, and then go and read 1 Corinthians 5:12. I am not saying this in an ‘I told you so’ kind of way, I really want us to understand that us pointing out how other Christians can improve in a loving way is not judging but helping. Read Judgement Day of Golf for more on this.

So, here is the scripture that I was referring to. Matthew 23:25-26 says, “Woe to you, teachers of the law and Pharisees, you hypocrites! You clean the outside of the cup and dish, but inside they are full of greed and self-indulgence. Blind Pharisee! First clean the inside of the cup and dish, and then the outside also will be clean.” I know that you may think that this is a bit harsh, but please don’t see it as a reprimand, as there is no condemnation for those in Christ Jesus, see it as an opportunity to change. If we change the inside, there won’t be any anger and hatred to come out on Facebook and Google+. At the moment, we are letting the inside out on social media, but showing the outside when face to face. Maybe because typing it makes it less personal for us, I don’t know, but the bottom line is that it shouldn’t be there. Now I am not suggesting that you merely extend your social filters to social media, I am talking about a serious, authentic, God-enabled change within.

I am a member of various Christian communities on Google+ and just seeing how Christians communicate with each other is very upsetting and quite disturbing actually. Yet I bet we are all super polite in church. This is not how it should be. This is not how we should be. I have been very angry, and said some things on social media that I wouldn’t have said to someone face to face, so this is not a reprimand, but more a commitment from me to change within. I am merely inviting all of you to join me! Let’s change ourselves from the inside, ask God to help us become more like Jesus with the help of the Holy Spirit, so that next time someone says something (however stupid) on Facebook, we respond in love instead of anger. Then next time we see some comment that upsets us, let’s take a minute to ask God how He wants us to respond. Let’s post that comment instead of just lashing out in anger in the heat of the moment.

In love, as always.

Richard