A Gracious Response
There is something special about a believer treating another believer with grace. So often today, people that interact on social media struggle with kindness and basic respect for one another. As believers in Jesus Christ, we have an example in God himself and we have commands as to how to properly deal with antagonism. Remember, it is not good enough to be right, but we as believers must choose to respond right. The goals are to be sharing Christ with he lost or edifying other believers. This means that we must model Christ’s love and kindness to others. We model it for our children, co-workers, church members and all we come in contact with even if it is only names on a computer screen. To fail to do so is to fail to glorify the Lord who bought us. How dare we not show grace because we stand forgiven ourselves.
First, let’s consider the character and way in which God operates:
Psalm 103:8 The LORD is merciful and gracious, slow to anger, and plenteous in mercy.
Psalm 145:8 The LORD is gracious, and full of compassion; slow to anger, and of great mercy. Notice that the Bible says God is slow to anger. Are we as believers slow to anger?
Consider that the Bible repeatedly mentions that this is how God is and is how He operates. There is a time and place for his wrath but take note of his stance.
Joel 2:13 And rend your heart, and not your garments, and turn unto the LORD your God: for he is gracious and merciful, slow to anger, and of great kindness, and repenteth him of the evil.
Jonah 4:2 And he prayed unto the LORD, and said, I pray thee, O LORD, was not this my saying, when I was yet in my country? Therefore I fled before unto Tarshish: for I knew that thou art a gracious God, and merciful, slow to anger, and of great kindness, and repentest thee of the evil. Shouldn’t we as believers be be gracious, merciful, slow to anger, and of great kindness?
Second, The book of Proverbs sheds some light on this. Consider what it means for a person to be slow to wrath.
Proverbs 14:29 He that is slow to wrath is of great understanding: but he that is hasty of spirit exalteth folly.
Proverbs 15:1-2 A soft answer turneth away wrath: but grievous words stir up anger.
The tongue of the wise useth knowledge aright: but the mouth of fools poureth out foolishness.
Proverbs 15:18 A wrathful man stirreth up strife: but he that is slow to anger appeaseth strife.
Proverbs 16:32 He that is slow to anger is better than the mighty; and he that ruleth his spirit than he that taketh a city.
So, it is seen that a person that is slow to wrath has great understanding. The opposite is that he lifts up foolishness. A soft answer can in essence pour cold water on a fire but using grievous words is like throwing gasoline on a fire. Now think, how often do you see people doing that? Why do believers so quickly reach for the gas can so to speak? Wise people use their tongues to deal with knowledge in the right way. Again, it is not enough to know truth but one must deal with it properly. Foolishness pours forth from fools. Someone full of wrath stirs up everyone around him but those slow to anger help to decrease strife. So often people look up to “mighty” men but think in this context who is mighty. The one that is slow to anger is mighty. That should make sense seeing how God is that way. Someone ruling his spirit is better than a conqueror of a city. There really is something special about keeping one’s spirit in check.
Third, the Bible tells us to love.
1 Peter 4:8 And above all things have fervent charity among yourselves: for charity shall cover the multitude of sins.
Ask yourself, if you are a believer, do you have fervent charity toward other believers? Would someone convict you of that by your dealing with others whether in public or on social media?
How does love behave?
1 Cor 13:1-7 Though I speak with the tongues of men and of angels, and have not charity, I am become as sounding brass, or a tinkling cymbal. And though I have the gift of prophecy, and understand all mysteries, and all knowledge; and though I have all faith, so that I could remove mountains, and have not charity, I am nothing. And though I bestow all my goods to feed the poor, and though I give my body to be burned, and have not charity, it profiteth me nothing. Charity suffereth long, and is kind; charity envieth not; charity vaunteth not itself, is not puffed up, Doth not behave itself unseemly, seeketh not her own, is not easily provoked, thinketh no evil; Rejoiceth not in iniquity, but rejoiceth in the truth; Beareth all things, believeth all things, hopeth all things, endureth all things.
Wow, think of all the ways in which so often we do not see people acting the way love acts! Should that be if you claim the Lord Christ? Should your speech be love filled?
James 1:19-20 Wherefore, my beloved brethren, let every man be swift to hear, slow to speak, slow to wrath: For the wrath of man worketh not the righteousness of God.
James clarifies that believers are commanded to be swift to hear. That means listen and observe before you react. Speak then out of grace and love being slow to speak so that one can do so skillfully with the right motive and the right words for the situation. Be slow to wrath as the Lord is. Why? Because your wrath as a man is not going to help work the righteousness of God. Rather be Spirit controlled and Spirit filled able to minister grace to those that hear.
Ephesians brings this out. And leads to the next point.
Fourth, control your tongue.
Ephesians 4:29 Let no corrupt communication proceed out of your mouth, but that which is good to the use of edifying, that it may minister grace unto the hearers.
If your communication does not do this then you need to re-evaluate your motives.
James 1:26 If any man among you seem to be religious, and bridleth not his tongue, but deceiveth his own heart, this man’s religion is vain.
A believer that won’t control his tongue is deceived and vain in religious endeavors. Rather control yourself through the Spirit and minister grace having true worship and fellowship with the Lord.
Fifth, forgive. Do you want to be ready to give a gracious response? Then don’t harbor resentment. The Bible says that the man speaks out of the abundance of the heart. If someone pokes you, will grace come out or will bitterness and wrath and anger be the result?
Col_3:12-14 Put on therefore, as the elect of God, holy and beloved, bowels of mercies, kindness, humbleness of mind, meekness, longsuffering; Forbearing one another, and forgiving one another, if any man have a quarrel against any: even as Christ forgave you, so also do ye. And above all these things put on charity, which is the bond of perfectness.
So put on love. Put on this mindset knowing that God love you. Forgive because God forgave you.
If someone has a problem or presents a problem to you, then be looking to find a resolution for their benefit. Do not think only of yourself. Christ did not think only of himself. He came to seek and to save that which was lost. He took time with he woman at the well and others. It is not up to us a believers to try to spitefully and pridefully hurt others to serve ourselves. Nor is it up to us to try to somehow help God out in dealing out vengeance. That belongs to the Lord. Remember as stated before, wrath of men does not work the righteousness of God. Rather seek this:
Galatians 6:1 Brethren, if a man be overtaken in a fault, ye which are spiritual, restore such an one in the spirit of meekness; considering thyself, lest thou also be tempted.
We do not need “better than you”, “holier than thou” attitudes. Look to be able to right a way to see that things are set right and that problems are de-escalated. Remember what is at stake. Your very testimony and God’s reputation can be tarnished if you are a bad example of His grace and if you allow or further push things to be out of control.
To conclude, today is Memorial Day here in the United States and we celebrate and remember those that gave their live in service for this country. Also as believers we can celebrate that Jesus Christ layed down His life for us. Now how should we then respond to others always? With the mindset of God, let us treat each other with grace. Let’s be slow to speak, slow to wrath, plenteous in mercy sharing and defending the gospel of Christ. Let’s edify and restore other brothers and sisters in Christ in the love which He showed us. In so doing we may greatly glorify Him in all we say and do being the shining lights and ambassadors for Christ that we ought to be.