Whose Am I?
2 Corinthians 5:20-21 KJV
Now then we are ambassadors for Christ, as though God did beseech you by us: we pray you in Christ's stead, be ye reconciled to God. For he hath made him to be sin for us, who knew no sin; that we might be made the righteousness of God in him.
Ambassadors for Christ. There is some weight to that.
Ambassador - noun: an accredited diplomat sent by a country as its official representative to a foreign country.
This means that every believer is not their own. The Believer does not represent himself/herself. Your actions, your words, or your lack thereof do not just reflect on you but also on that which you represent: the Kingdom and the King of that Kingdom.
1 Corinthians 6:20 King James Version
20 For ye are bought with a price: therefore glorify God in your body, and in your spirit, which are God's.
We are not our own. We have been bought with a price and that price was the crucifixion of Jesus. When we are born again, we now are saying to God "I am giving myself fully to You."
God has a plan for each believer. More than just a plan, each of us has a calling and gifting to fulfill the plan. This means that there is something higher on us and we represent something higher. Our actions, decisions, words, and life either grows our gifting and calling or kills our gifting and calling.
At the same time that we are affecting the plan and calling we are representing Jesus and the Kingdom. We have to decide if we will grow the Kingdom or hurt the Kingdom. This means we will have to make the choice each day as to how we will represent and carry the Kingdom to the world. Good news! We have been given a clear and direct instruction manual for this very thing.
Galatians 5:22-23 King James Version
22 But the fruit of the Spirit is love, joy, peace, longsuffering, gentleness, goodness, faith, 23 Meekness, temperance: against such there is no law.
James 1:19-26 King James Version
19 Wherefore, my beloved brethren, let every man be swift to hear, slow to speak, slow to wrath: 20 For the wrath of man worketh not the righteousness of God. 21 Wherefore lay apart all filthiness and superfluity of naughtiness, and receive with meekness the engrafted word, which is able to save your souls. 22 But be ye doers of the word, and not hearers only, deceiving your own selves. 23 For if any be a hearer of the word, and not a doer, he is like unto a man beholding his natural face in a glass: 24 For he beholdeth himself, and goeth his way, and straightway forgetteth what manner of man he was. 25 But whoso looketh into the perfect law of liberty, and continueth therein, he being not a forgetful hearer, but a doer of the work, this man shall be blessed in his deed. 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.
These two passages are part of that instruction manual. Every believer should strive to bare the fruits of the spirit, This will help every part of their Christian walk work better. But the Fruit of the Spirit can seem a bit abstract.
"What do you mean by abstract, Pastor?"
I'm glad you asked. We all know what love is, what meekness is, and what gentleness is but what does it look like. This is where James 1 comes into play.
Let me give you the BIV (Brandon Interpreted Version) on James 1:19 " Hey Friend, LISTEN, STOP TALKING, and CHILL OUT."
*this is not a real version of the Bible. It's more how my mind sees it.*
This passage help us understand what love, gentleness, and meekness look like.
Let’s look at 3 everyday situations where we can use the fruit of the spirit to grow the kingdom or we can hurt it by doing things our way. For this we will look at the right way and wrong (My) way to handle each one.
1. The waitress gets your order wrong at the restaurant after church.
The My Way.
You call over the waitress and belittle her in front of the whole restaurant. You ask if your order was just too complicated for her to understand and you leave her the minimum tip if any at all.
The Right Way.
The next time she comes by to ask if everything is OK you humbly say in a soft voice "Ma'am, I asked for....." if it’s even worth mentioning at all. You then leave a generous tip for her.
We all know the reputation that church folk have with the restaurant industry. It should then be our job to fix this reputation. This first example shows pride and arrogance. The second meekness and gentleness. The first reinforces the negative stereotype. The second shows the idea of the Kingdom. Remember when your server comes by your table that we are called to serve first, so we should never see ourselves as more than a server.
2. Your boss blames something on you that was not your fault.
The My Way.
You fly off the handle. You begin to call out every misstep and wrong doing of her and everyone you work with. You show them how you're right, why you're right, and that you have always been right. Besides you are good at what you do. As a matter of fact you're better than any of those people at it.
The Right Way
You listen to what she has to say. You look at yourself first to make sure you are not responsible and need to correct any of your issues. You then go back to work and make sure you model the behavior asked of you by your boss and help others do the same through encouragement.
The people you spend time with at work know you better than family sometimes. Because of this, they tend know if you are a believer. The first example shows pride and a willingness to sell others out. It also shows someone who can't see their own faults. This will cause distrust and will make witnessing to coworkers almost impossible. The second example shows meekness and love. In this situation, the coworkers will see the sacrifice of "taking one for the team" as a reason to trust and even follow this believer.
3. As you standing around chatting "fellowshipping" after service one of the church leaders says something that hurts you.
The My Way.
You go home mad. I mean mad. How could he say that in front of everyone? I know there were only like five of us present, but now it feels like the whole world was listening in. You have to tell someone, so you and your spouse have long talk about it over dinner with the kids. Then you need a second opinion so you text your buddy from the church in the next town. The more you talk, the more hurt and angry you become. Now you have decided that you are not going to listen to him anymore, If he is going to hurt you and not say sorry they why should you. Then the pastor does the unthinkable: he says that leader has been doing a great job. Of course this will be the topic of dinner discussion, and text messages. Now you have decided that if they are going to be that way you just won’t go back.
The Right Way
You go to him in private and say, "Brother, what you said hurt me." He apologizes. He says he didn't know he had hurt you and he never meant to. The two of you pray together and become closer friends.
In the first example a lot happens. First, hurt turns to anger and anger turns to bitterness. This is all because of a communication issue. The person has demonstrated to their family and to their friends what hurt pride looks like. This will do unimaginable damage to children if they see their parents destroy spiritual leadership in front of them. This in most every case will lead to a backsliding family. The second example shows the biblical way to handle this issues found in Matthew 18:15-17. This leads to reconciliation and growth.
So looking at these examples ask yourself "Whose am I?"