‘I will not tolerate anyone who secretly slanders his neighbors; I will not permit conceit and pride.’ (Psalm 101:5 Living Bible)
Now that Jesus has returned to his Father we are left with his Word and the Holy Spirit to guide us but we are also left with a third gift: each other.
Now that’s a significant challenge to us because frankly speaking it’s not easy getting on with others.
So often we are the centre of our own universe and as a result we minimise our own faults and shortcomings while on the other hand we maximise other people’s failures or weaknesses, even making sure that 3rd parties are aware of them.
It’s easy to rubbish someone else’s character or motives as we speak ill of them or in terms that are not complementary or flattering.
Yet God detests gossip in any circumstance but especially among brothers and sisters in the church.
The two great commandments (love God, love others: Matthew 22:36-40) hold together and cannot be separated.
The reason why is explained in 1 John 4:20,
‘Whoever claims to love God yet hates a brother or sister is a liar. For whoever does not love their brother and sister, whom they have seen, cannot love God, whom they have not seen.’ (1 John 4:20 NIV)
We cannot love God and hate people.
We cannot revere Him, yet dismiss the people He made.
If we say we love God, yet treat people badly, such as gossiping about them, we are liars.
That’s not easy to write or read.
Loving others isn’t easy.
At times I don’t love well. I’d rather trumpet everyone else’s failures and minimise my own. I’d rather God forgive my huge sins than forgive the small sins of someone else against me. I often forget in my self-centred universe that I may be in need of someone else’s grace and forgiveness.
Perhaps one way of not solely thinking of ourselves and appreciating those who sit alongside us in the pews is to see them as God’s gift to us?
We often limit spiritual gifts to things people have or do rather than seeing the people themselves as God’s gift.
Seeing the man, woman, boy or girl alongside us in the congregation as God’s gift, will enable us to see them from a different perspective; to see them as God sees them: his beloved children.
Let’s treat the gifts God has given us with care and attention; in other words, with love.
What a difference that would make within the community of believers and what a witness to a watching world.
Father, please forgive me when I haven’t treated my neighbour as I should. Help me to see them as your precious gifts.
Have a good week with the gifts God has given you.