Morning Devotion Group…I accidentally posted today’s devotion yesterday at the same time I posted yesterday’s devotion. To keep you from missing the order of things I am sending both today. You may have missed entry #35, which was the last in our study of how we portray Christ’s Bride at home. Entry #36, is posted below it. You have probably already read it. You can always access any past entries by going directly to the www.storiesofvalue.com blog. Blessings! Larry Jones
The Long Walk of Love at Home – 35
Third, my father reminded us to guard our character when our brothers and sisters in Christ push us to the limit.
Christian character is composed of moral and ethical convictions that reveal the true nature of our spiritual commitment. It prompts us to do the right thing, regardless of whether or not it is the easy thing, and guards our hearts against the wrong thing when we are tested.
If you have ever failed the test, don’t worry. There is a difference between acting “out of character” and “losing our character.” Both are undesirable, but since we are human we aren’t always going to be perfect representatives of Christ. In a moment of frustration we may lash out at those who have hurt us, but because we don’t want to dishonor Christ or hurt His Bride we step back into character through a process of reflection and repentance. However, should we lose our character we will no longer care how our behavior hurts others or the name of Christ.
One night my father came home from a church elder’s meeting disappointed in himself. In a moment of anger he had called one of his elders a “bozo.” The dictionary defines a bozo as “a fellow, especially a big, strong, stupid fellow.” As soon as the word came out of my father’s mouth he was sorry and he apologized on the spot. When he told us about the incident later, he wasn’t arrogant or combative, but humbled and remorseful. Even though the elders in the room, including the one who made him angry took things in stride, it bothered my father to think he had acted out of character. He used his mistake as an opportunity to remind us we all lose our cool, but that difficult circumstances never excuse bad behavior.
How we treat the Bride of Christ in our homes matters. Every time we abuse her with our words or actions we diminish her glory in the eyes of the people we love most. When unbelievers visit our home and hear us criticize our church, we give them more reasons to resist the gospel. And our family’s attitude isn’t confined to the house we call home. For instance, a Christian family that comes to worship with a chip on its shoulder will steal everyone else’s joy. Yet, the one that comes, having taken up its cross, builds up the body.
Consider these thoughts with all urgency. Once opinions are formed in the hearts and minds of those closest to us, they are difficult to remove. If they are hurtful opinions the long walk can be very miserable indeed.
The Long Walk of Love at Work -36
During my Bible college years my grandfather hired me as a summer worker in the government offices where he served as County Clerk. He moved me from department to department to fill in gaps as employees took their family vacations. I registered people to vote, transferred automobiles, sorted, filed, listened, watched and learned. But the things I learned might surprise you.
Some ladies in one department had an ingenious system that allowed each of them to attend sales at downtown clothing stores during working hours. Their strategy was as impressive as the tunnel project in the movie “The Great Escape.” They met daily in the break room, cigarettes and newspaper ads in-hand, to plan their runs down Main Street.
Down the hall a couple of men in another department knew the lunch schedules of some attractive ladies who worked in the bank across the street and timed their breaks so they could watch them walk by. They possessed an extensive repertoire of off-color jokes, and loved to brag about their popularity with women.
If I have led you to think my co-workers were bad people, I must apologize because nothing could be farther from the truth. As a matter of fact, they were very good people. I chalked their behavior up to boring, repetitive work, and as far as their crudeness, I had worked maintenance at a golf course and hotel in high school, so my experience in the courthouse was nothing new. Ok, so maybe my grandfather’s employees had a poor work ethic at times, but they cared deeply about others and about one another.
What does this have to do with how we treat the church in our discussions at work? The answer lies in a common human experience. We see it in Christ’s Bride. She is the body of Christ, made of many members, each drawing their redemption from the same Lord. Since believers are bound by this common grace, they love one another deeply. The apostle Paul expressed this principle in his letter to the Ephesians: “Be kind and compassionate to one another, forgiving each other, just as in Christ God forgave you” (Ephesians 4:32).
Although our relationships with co-workers may not be forged at the cross, they are similar in their expression. I have never worked in a place where people didn’t care about each other. Maybe they didn’t always treat each other as they should, and there were always a few adversaries in the mix, but most people sincerely cared for their co-workers. Chances are, in your workplace there are people who care for you, and because they care for you they also care about the people you care about. This means if you told your co-workers about a church friend who was battling a serious disease, they would hurt with you. They might even offer to say a prayer for your friend, regardless of whether they knew Christ or not.
Of course, in order to have this kind of relationship with others in the workplace we have to care about their relationships as well. And there are always those who want to keep their distance from serious conversations that might turn religious. But in general, people care about their co-workers, regardless of their relationship with the Lord.
You may still be wondering what our love for our church family has to do with our testimony at work? I believe when we share our lives with others in the workplace, and pass along stories of faith, hope and love from our church family, we make the Lord attractive. People we work with need to know our Christians friends are valuable to us, just as their friends are valuable to them. They need to understand, while we strive to understand God’s will and obey it in the church, we also thrive in an atmosphere of grace where we cheer each other on and lift each other up. This is likely our greatest commonality, and our best platform for sharing the love of Christ.