Loving Others Well

I listened to a discussion with John Maxwell & Andy Stanley on Andy’s book, Not In It To Win It, which speaks on building unity in communities despite apparent differences.

John Maxwell, speaking on the need for a book like Andy’s, said, “a great leader unites his friends and divides his enemies, while a bad leader divides his friends and unites his enemies.”
This comment got me thinking about the words we use to disagree or agree with other people. In their discussion, they talked about politicizing Christianity and the Gospel. Politics, as in not just the party you side with, but the trivializing of the Gospel—using it as a way to win or prevent losing. It becomes a tool, not the life-giving message it is and was meant to be.

This impacted me because God has been working the message of genuine, Christ-like love into my heart, and I preached about it this past Sunday. It was about falling in love with people (which flows out of falling in love with the Lord). I want to change the way I love people. I want to embody Christ-like love to everyone. I think this means reminding myself (before I speak, act, or post that comment) that the Gospel has weight. That God’s name, Jesus’ name, means something far beyond that hard-hitting rebuttal in an argument, or my fleshly mind’s mocking thoughts when I see someone living in sin.

Paul writes in 1st Corinthians, “what, then, is my reward? That, when I preach the gospel, I may offer the gospel without charge, so as not to make full use of my right in the gospel” (v. 18, NASB). I have to ask myself, “am I getting something (charging someone) by ‘offering’ the Gospel, or has God’s name become something I use to prove my point?” I have posted things, said things, and done things using God’s name that were not to His benefit but my own. In the same podcast discussion, Maxwell cautioned his listeners to not “basically disqualify” people when we imply that the Gospel “isn’t for you.”

I know that there are many moments in my life, especially as a teenager who thought my opinions were usually right, where I follow my flesh in picking secular sides that the Spirit of God would never have led me to pick between. I am learning, and had that learning sped up through this podcast, that defending the truth (of who God is, His character, Biblical morality, etc.) because of the self-righteous motivations of my flesh is not accurate to Jesus’ teachings. Two wrongs do not make a right.

I want to shift my behavior towards being a leader who preaches the truth of the Gospel simply and purely, without the motivation of “winning” what my flesh wants.

I also found Romans 6:21, which strongly challenged me: “But what fruit were you getting at that time from the things of which you are now ashamed? For the end of those things is death” (ESV). In what fleshly ways have we spoken or acted that we are now ashamed of? “But the mind governed by the Spirit is life and peace” (Romans 8:6, NIV).

Ethan Thomas

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