Thursday, July 12, 2018
Some time back, I asked a group of our church family members if they could add the name of another of our members to their prayer list. One who didn’t quite catch the name asked, “who?” When she heard the name clearly, she remarked rather sarcastically: “Oh, her.” I was stung but so surprised by the remark that I said nothing at all. Later, while driving home, I felt very angry at myself for not saying anything and if I could have pulled it off, I would have kicked myself. You see, one of the obligations of a good shepherd is to protect and defend any member of his flock who is unjustly attacked. Just like God, any genuine, divinely called pastor has no favorites. To the shepherd in an actual flock, the sheep, though they come in various sizes, shapes, and colors, are all the same. There is no one better or more important than any other. It is no different in the church.
In his letter to the church, James rebuked the practice of favoritism in it. The rich were catered to and the poor simple members were despised. He told them clearly that this type of behavior is sin when he wrote: “But if you show favoritism, you sin and are convicted by the law as lawbreakers.” (James 2:9)
Any church where partiality and discrimination is prevalent is a church who has lost favor with God. Though invisible to the naked eye, there are spiritual cracks in it’s walls or foundation. Left unchecked, that church is due for a fall. One way it’s members can prevent that fall is by applying the advice Paul gave in 1 Thessalonians 5:14 when he wrote: “And we urge you, brothers and sisters, warn those who are idle and disruptive, encourage the disheartened, help the weak, be patient with everyone.” God is faithful and He will answer your prayers on behalf of your church if you have seen these troubling signs in it. Never forget, however, that He expects us to do our part nonetheless. Don’t let the word “warn” scare you. If you ask God to help you when you see someone belittling or denigrating another person, He will give you the right words to use to bring it to their attention. In the same manner, He will help you to be an encourager and a helper to those who need it and He will give you the patience to do it correctly. The way back to healing in your church might very well begin with you.
God’s word for today: (Proverbs 10:12) “Hatred stirs up strifes: but love covers all sins.”