Ephesians 4:1,2 “As a prisoner for the Lord, then, I urge you to live a life worthy of the calling you have received. Be completely humble and gentle; be patient, bearing with one another in love.”

      A few days ago I got into a ‘back and forth’ argument in social media about something that in my mind isn’t central to the Gospel of Jesus Christ.  I should have had the maturity to not respond to what I felt was an ‘attack’ on my integrity as a Christian.  In getting sucked into this useless controversy I demonstrated the very thing I was trying to defend myself against.  Like Paul, I’m perplexed; “I do not understand what I do. For what I want to do I do not do, but what I hate I do.” (Romans 7:15)

     The Bible tells us; “But avoid foolish controversies and genealogies and strife and disputes about the Law, for they are unprofitable and worthless.” (Titus 3:9)  Good advice for those in  the early church and good advice now!  I’ve read this scripture so many times, yet I ‘forgot’ to heed its life giving Spirit when I really needed to.  I failed and ended up hurting long time Christian friends through my wrong headedness.   How did this happen to me?

     I got pulled into the argument because it pushed on my wounds from a very difficult experience and I experienced the pain anew.  Old unhealed wounds create hot buttons that people may push not even knowing it.  A reaction is set off that when the dust settles you ask; ‘why did I react that way?’  But it’s too late – words have been said and the power of the tongue has been unleashed;  “And the tongue is a fire, a world of iniquity: so is the tongue among our members, that it defileth the whole body, and setteth on fire the course of nature; and it is set on fire of hell.” (James 3:6)

     About a year ago, I came out of the most difficult and painful period of my Christian journey.  Thankfully, today I’m in a wonderful accepting church community that is part of God’s plan for my healing.   This period was characterized by rejection, humiliation and shunning.  Through this period I bore up as best I could because the Lord required my staying put in it.  But the wounds of this experience are deep and even though I can ‘ignore’ the pain I can’t exempt myself from the effects and consequences of the spiritual wounding.  My soul hurts, my spirit was nearly broken.  But for God’s strength and protection I would have been ‘undone’.  The Lord did deliver me! Praise the Lord!
     God is using this experience to teach me.  One very important lesson is ‘don’t ignore pain’ – physical or emotional.  Wounds need to be bound up and tended to.  Spiritual healing comes with confession and prayer;  “. . . confess your sins to one another, and pray for one another so that you may be healed. The effective prayer of a righteous man can accomplish much.” (James 5:16)  How can the injured party have sin?  Carrying anger, bitterness, and un-forgiveness are all burdens unhealed wounds create in us.  Sin breeds sin passed from offender to victim who risks becoming his hate and bitterness.  We can sin against others by letting ‘hot buttons’ control our reactions.  But carrying hurt and anger or nurturing old wounds sins against God.

God doesn’t want ‘walking wounded’.  He wants us to heal and stride forward in His glory;  “The Spirit of the Lord is on me, because he has anointed me to proclaim good news to the poor. He has sent me to proclaim freedom for the prisoners and recovery of sight for the blind, to set the oppressed free.” (Luke 4:18)  The only way out of ‘blowing it’ is to repent – confess your sin, ask for forgiveness and turn back to His way.  For me this is eating a huge piece of ‘humble pie’; “Great is our Lord, and of great power: his understanding is infinite. The Lord lifteth up the meek . . . ” (Psalm 147:6)  Pride has a fickle effect on the mouth – it will  make the tongue wag full of overflowing self yet shut your jaws so tightly against humble pie your teeth may break. Only the conviction of the Holy Spirit can lead a man to repentance and taking his fill of humility.

     Another important lesson to be learned is; ‘Armor up!’  The devil knows our wounds – he is the author of them because he is the ‘prince of this world’.  His rage and hate is stamped upon every blow, every wound and terrible cut this broken world pours out upon us;  “Woe to the inhabiters of the earth and of the sea! for the devil is come down unto you, having great wrath, because he knoweth that he hath but a short time.” (Revelation 12:12)  Sadly, we risk becoming the devils ‘right hand men’ when we don’t let go of  the past and take our brokenness to God.  Yesterday’s victim is tomorrow’s offender in the making unless God heals and restores.

     Sadly, we bite scratch and hurt one another under our enemy’s influence.  How do we avoid doing the very thing that we don’t want to do?  How do we avoid hurting and being hurt?  The Bible tells us; “Put on the whole armour of God, that ye may be able to stand against the wiles of the devil. For we wrestle not against flesh and blood, but against principalities, against powers, against the rulers of the darkness of this world, against spiritual wickedness in high places.” (Ephesians 6:11,12)

     Only a well equipped, righteous community of Christians can stand against the devil and the evils he stirs up in us and the world.  The mark of healthy maturity in a Christian community and individual Christian is the love that Christ commanded us to have for one another; “A new commandment I give to you, that you love one another, even as I have loved you, that you also love one another. By this all men will know that you are My disciples, if you have love for one another.” (John 13:34,35)   This love evident to all men is the Gospel Message acted out for the world to see.  This bearing with one another speaks loud and clear to all (by its presence or absence) about the authenticity of our Christian walk.  May we be worthy of our calling.

     “So, as those who have been chosen of God, holy and beloved, put on a heart of compassion, kindness, humility, gentleness and patience; bearing with one another, and forgiving each other, whoever has a complaint against anyone; just as the Lord forgave you, so also should you.” (Colossians 3:12,13)

    Come Lord Jesus!