THE CHURCH—GOD’S NEW SOCIETY
Maintaining Unity in the Ranks
Jerry A Collins
v What does it mean to ‘lay aside’ something?
v Is anger ever a legitimate emotion?
v What are the characteristics of constructive Christian acts?
We all know how difficult it can be when there is divisiveness in the ranks. That can be true whether in the family, workplace, team, or colleagues. So much of our misery is related to this kind of divisiveness. Sometimes it can linger for years. Others are in fits and starts. But it hurts nonetheless. It is the root of bitterness and hinders production. The outcome is pain, loss, ache, and hardened responses like revenge, envy, rage, denial, and hatred. In contrast to this is constructive behavior that takes into account everyone else and not just myself. The kind of behavior that mends and heals and maximizes people’s potential. There is energy associated with constructive relationships and the harmony produces an environment that encourages each other and supports one another. Everyone is lifted up and can contribute with their strengths. We really want that. Too often we are beaten down and left for dead. Well, God demands that His body on earth, the church, practice and mimic constructive behavior with one another. It is not just something we should appreciate but something we must deliver to one another.
There are five areas of behavior addressed and each area has something for us to put off and in it’s place to put on. We are also given the reason for this in each case. Let me encourage you to listen personally—to take a shot just for yourself. This is behavior your Father in heaven demands of you. Let’s look at each in detail.
OUR BEHAVIOR MUST EXEMPLIFY TRUTH TELLING 25
1. Put off deception and lying
Get rid of lying in your life. It only creates conflict and deception. It destroys trust and diminishes your integrity. To practice lying is like living the old lie all over again in your former behavior as an unbeliever. Take this behavior off. Satan, Jesus says, was a murderer from the beginning and does not stand in the truth because there is no truth in him. Whenever he speaks a lie he speaks from his own nature for he is a liar and the father of lies. There are many reasons for lying but a major reason is fear of other people—a child’s fear of being caught; a parent’s fear of not being accepted in the eyes of their children. In Proverbs 27:6 ‘faithful are the wounds of a friend’.
2. Put on honesty
Speaking truth is to speak things the way they actually are. It is opposed to falsehood because falsehood attempts to hide the way things actually are. Truth telling comes from not avoiding the way things actually are. The ‘neighbor’ ion context is other believers.
3. The reason is because we are all related to one another
The unity we have in Christ is at stake. This unity is essential to maintain. Truth telling is a bond that keeps us united in our relationship with one another. This truth is centered in the Word of God so we cannot compromise our unity by avoiding the truth.
OUR BEHAVIOR MUST EXEMPLIFY LEGITIMATE ANGER
1. Put off sinning in your anger
If you have been made angry then do not sin. Sin will be very easy when you are angry. Anger can be like pointing a loaded gin at someone. Take this off or you will pull the trigger and be divisive and upset the unity in the body.
3. Put on reconciliation
As quickly as possible reconcile the situation so the relationship can be intact and retrieved from a divisive behavior. Most likely, your angry outburst will require reconciliation. Don’t hold that back. Pursue it!
3. The reason is the Devil uses this disrupt our unity
Anger is a huge subject in the Bible. Good anger is God’s anger and bad anger is ours. For instance; 1. Good anger is aimed at those commercializing the worship of God Mt 21:12. Its bad anger when it lasts more than a day Eph 4:26. 2. Good anger because of hardness of heart of religious people. Its bad when it makes you bitter, jealous or envy Eph 4:31. 3. Its good when about people dividing up the church Gal 2:11-16. Its bad when it leads to revenge Rom 12:17-21. 4. Its good when about false teachers 2 Pt 2:1; Gal 5:12. Its bad when a sudden outburst w/o thot or reason James -21. Anger can be a tool Satan uses to drive wedges.
OUR BEHAVIOR MUST EXEMPLIFY HONEST WORK
1. Put off stealing
The idea is to stop the stealing that you have been doing. It may have something to do with an unwillingness to work to take care of your self and your family in context. So it is stealing that is an attempt to avoid working.
2. Put on honest work
Start doing something you have not been doing. It should be honest labor instead of dishonest gain.
3. The reason is because supplying my needs I have something to give
So it is for sharing what I labor for to those in need instead of taking what is not mine. It is a paradigm shift from stealing from the product of others work to giving from the product of my work. Poorer believers, those teaching us the Bible, those involved in evangelism and discipleship and those in full time ministry are supported.
OUR BEHAVIOR MUST EXEMPLIFY SUITABLE SPEECH
1. Put off unwholesome speech
You can tell if the supernatural is at work in one’s life by how well they have their mouth under control. Stop speech that has a derogatory effect. It is the nature of the speech but also its outcome as evil.
2. Put on suitable speech
Speech, which contributes to harmony. Not just getting something off of my chest but speech that contributes to the personal and spiritual development of one another. Speech that encourages our maturity and spiritual growth. Speech that is based in truth and not lies. Speech for the purpose of building us up in Christ. Speech that is appropriate for every moment.
3. The reason is to bring benefit and not grieve the HS
This kind of speech increases unity amongst us. Words can make us or break us. Even the Holy Spirit is emotionally impacted by the quality of my speech. We strive against Him with our divisive speech. This is the same Spirit given as a pledge of our future.
OUR BEHAVIOR MUST EXEMPLIFY FORGIVENESS
1. Put off malicious attitudes/actions
Using 5 vices as examples, we must put off all forms of malicious behavior. That includes things like bitterness (Like a piercing sound or bitter taste that penetrates), wrath (burning rage), anger (state of anger), clamor (shouting and screaming), and slander (abusive, belittling).
2. Put on forgiveness
This may be the most difficult yet. Forgiveness is to be delivered in the manner of kindness and tenderness. Not a blunted or forced forgiveness. A forgiveness freely given not slowly handed out. Forgiveness is laying aside the consequences required by someone’s actions. It means suffering the consequences of another’s sin against God without seeking revenge, holding a grudge or demanding justice.
3. The reason is God forgave us
The comparison is not between me and you but me and God. That forgiveness of me is basis of my forgiveness of you. Restoration requires repentance but forgiveness is given without it.
1. God takes seriously unity within the people of God. It must be a serious matter with us.
2. Unity is maintained by each one of us. We all have this responsibility.
3. Unity comes in the context of truth telling, controlled anger, giving, suitable speech, and forgiveness. Not by tolerance but by agreement with the truth.