Among the most venomous relationship killers are ungodly anger and passive aggression. Passivity and a short fuse seem to be polar opposites but they really aren’t. A short fuse can manifest itself in silent sabotage; veiling itself behind the sweet-poison commonly known as passive aggression. Pretending to be a friend to someone while ruining their reputation behind their back to your other friends. Like drawing a deer with its own scent, some veil their gossip under laughter or prayer requests. The world demonstrates these things very well and the Christian is not exempt.
Charles Spurgeon once said:
“PREFER TO BEAR EVIL RATHER THAN INFLICT IT”
This quote leaped off the page at me in his book titled: “Preachers and Preaching.” He was speaking on the absolute necessity of a preacher watching his life by guarding against the evils of both a short fuse or a passive attitude. This is a vital quality that must be named among pastors today (and always for that matter); however, it is not limited to pastors. This quality must be named among all of God’s people, because without it relationships fracture and come to ruin. What quality is this that I speak of? I believe it is Self-Control.
God’s desire for us when He saves us is to change us.
There is a constant conflict that is going on both inside the Christian and inside the Christian fellowship. What is it? The conflict of flesh and the Spirit.
“But if you bite and devour one another, take care that you are not consumed by one another.” -God, through Paul
That is a bold statement calling out the power of the flesh. It bites. It devours. It consumes. Who’s the victim? The One another.
You mean, the one another that God created and that Jesus died for? Yep, that one another. The same one another’s feet that Jesus washed and commanded us to do the same? Yes. The one another that give credibility to a dying world of the love of Christ by loving one another? Yes. The one anothers that are called the household of God? Yes. Galatians 5 has much to say on this subject.
When the one anothers turn on one another, evil as afoot.
The flesh ultimately demonstrates the heart and vocalizes through the tongue
The flesh (sarx in the Greek language of NT) is the very thing that represents the fallen state of humanity. The flesh is after one thing: itself. It loves isolation. It loves to pat its own back and loves to present to itself its own awards. If the flesh ever is disturbed or exposed, it screeches and claws away at the eyes of its enemies. It takes its tongue, motivated by its heart of envy, lust, and pride, and deconstructs its enemies through the use of insult, lies, and gossip. The flesh is very sly, too! It can employ humor as a barrier of protection of itself, or, if the times call for desperate measures, it can turn that humor into the flaming arrows of comedic insults. This is a powerful tool, because anyone listening in is deceived into thinking the whole gambit is all in fun and no harm is actually intended; leaving everyone involved in an awkward and endless vacuum of unresolved conflict. In short, the flesh has no desire or ability to bear under any evil caused by someone else because it’s too busy establishing its own.
In short, the flesh has no desire or ability to bear under any evil…
The choice that Christians have
The choice they have is not something they can do apart from the life-giving work of Christ. They must, be first and foremost, believers in Christ through repentance and faith in Him. Once they have that empowerment, they can choose to “walk by the Spirit, and [they] will not carry out the desires of the flesh. They have the choice of dying to themselves, with Christ, and allowing His selflessness, His strength, and His humility to become attributes of their own. Without dying to themselves and living under the Lordship of Christ, there will be no endurance of evil done against them nor will they be able to restrain the evil they will inflict on others.The choice to “walk by the Spirit” involves a volitional and intentional choice to conduct oneself and to be in constant surrender and use of the ever-present and indwelling Holy Spirit of the Living God!
16But I say, walk by the Spirit, and you will not carry out the desire of the flesh. 17For the flesh sets its desire against the Spirit, and the Spirit against the flesh; for these are in opposition to one another, so that you may not do the things that you please. 18But if you are led by the Spirit, you are not under the Law. 19Now the deeds of the flesh are evident, which are: immorality, impurity, sensuality,20idolatry, sorcery, enmities, strife, jealousy, outbursts of anger, disputes, dissensions, factions, 21envying, drunkenness, carousing, and things like these, of which I forewarn you, just as I have forewarned you, that those who practice such things will not inherit the kingdom of God.
THE RESULTS OF THAT CHOICE
The outcome will be that no matter what is said or done against the Christian, they can bear it. Because they realize that their flesh has been “crucified…with its passions and desires.” There no longer is room for self to seek itself. Now the Christian seeks the benefit of the “one another”. They have seen themselves in the light of the gospel and understood their own evil to be so great that the evil of others pales in comparison to their own.
Under such conviction and love, now they can patiently endure insult, understanding that it comes from a foolish and fleshly heart (Proverbs 12:16). Now, like a mighty oak in a heavy wind, they can withstand ridicule when they are innocent (1 Peter 2:23). Now they can comprehend their struggle in the light of Divine Truth. They have seen what their own flesh has cost-the death of Christ- and now seek to bear evil rather than inflict it. They no longer draw their knives from the cabinet of emotion and revenge but rather medicine from the cabinet of grace and truth. They seek to be “imitators of God” (Eph 5:1) and suffer well under all forms of relational strain in order to testify of true, genuine love.
22But the fruit of the Spirit is love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfuless,23gentleness, self-control; against such things there is no law.24Now those who belong to Christ Jesus have crucified the flesh with its passions and desires. 25If we live by the Spirit, let us also walk by the Spirit. 26Let us not become boastful, challenging one another, envying one another”