PART 7 PERSONAL ASSOCIATIONS
PART 7 PERSONAL ASSOCIATIONS
Knowing When to Maintain Them and Knowing When to Avoid Them
How should we respond when we are being unjustly treated by others?
Suggested Reading: 2 Corinthians 6:4-10
There will be times when we will be unjustly treated by others. This could be from an ex-wife, an ex-husband, a friend, a relative, a boss at work, a fellow employee, a son, a daughter, and even a pastor. These circumstances are a part of God’s plan for our life. Sometimes, whether we want to be associated with certain people or not, our interaction with them impacts our life in one way or another.
The question is, how will we respond to the mistreatment?
Not all mistreatment is directed at us, because of our faith. However, all mistreatment is an opportunity for us to reveal our faith.
4 But in all things approving ourselves as the ministers of God, in much patience, in afflictions, in necessities, in distresses,
5 In stripes, in imprisonments, in tumults, in labours, in watchings, in fastings;
Paul said to the Corinthians that whether he himself or his ministers were in afflictions (trials under pressure), necessities (everyday hardships of life), distresses (extreme pressure; to experiences that push us into a corner where there seems to be no escape), some examples of which are being: in stripes (beatings), in imprisonments, in tumults (violent opposition to someone or something involving mob action) in labours (the labors of the ministry and its incessant duties), in watchings (sleeplessness because of the circumstances), and in fastings (destitute of food), they were to approve themselves in much patience (by steadfast endurance; to not quit when things are tough).
What did Paul mean when he said to the Corinthians that he and his associates approved themselves as the ministers of God?
Some would say that to approve ourselves means to stand up for ourselves, to not appear weak, to give others back what they deserve. Is this what these words mean? The words “approving ourselves as the ministers of God” means to show ourselves to be servants of God in the work of teaching and preaching. It also means to be examples to be followed not just in word, but also in deed so as not to put a stumbling block in the way of believers or unbelievers.
6 By pureness, by knowledge, by longsuffering, by kindness, by the Holy Ghost, by love unfeigned,
7 By the word of truth, by the power of God, by the armour of righteousness on the right hand and on the left,
Paul revealed what it was that sustained him through these trials. It had nothing to do with any character trait of the person he used to be before his conversion, but it was by having his mind renewed according to the word of God and being filled with the Spirit. He was impacted by His fruit or spiritual qualities operating within and evidenced toward others by knowledge (a practical knowledge which displays sensitivity to others), by longsuffering (patience without complaining; being patient with the weaknesses and criticisms of other people; to bear up under the oversights and wrongs afflicted by others without retaliating), and by kindness (gentleness of manner, of temper, and of spirit; actively showing good will by helping others).
Like Paul, the Corinthians should be sustained by the word of truth (Christian doctrine; speech that is honest and trustworthy), by the power of God (divine power acting upon their minds), and by the armour of righteousness on the right hand and on the left (to be well armed or entirely equipped to battle; no carnal weapons of offence and defense).
8 By honour and dishonour, by evil report and good report: as deceivers, and yet true;
9 As unknown, and yet well known; as dying, and, behold, we live; as chastened, and not killed;
10 As sorrowful, yet alway rejoicing; as poor, yet making many rich; as having nothing, and yet possessing all things.
By operating according to the word of God and Spirit, Paul and his ministers exhibited a unique testimony whether by honor (when others think of them as having a good reputation) and dishonor (when others shamed and disgraced them); by evil report (slander) and good report (good words); as deceivers (as being treated as imposters), and yet true (revealing truth in word and deed); as unknown (to fame; to the great), and yet well known (in character, will, and deeds); as dying (in daily danger of death), and, behold, we live (thrive); as chastened (punished by others), and not killed (put to death); as sorrowful (troubled), yet always rejoicing (have the consolation of God’s Spirit); as poor (when in need), yet making many rich (imparting to others true riches); as having nothing (in the opinion of the world), and yet possessing all things (possessing all things to the full).
So, no matter what befalls us as God’s ambassadors our discussions about any matter should evidence a conversation of redemption, ministering grace to the hearers, and disclosing to them God’s mindset. Instead of our manner of words being one of complaining about the abuse that is being inflicted upon us, what these words should reflect is a mindset that is secure in abiding in the thoughts and power of another, which provides for us contentment in the midst of chaos, comfort in the midst of humiliation, and confidence that all things will work out together for our good.
Are you evidencing the qualities of the Holy Spirit in the midst of your hardship?
Are you able to think with the mind of Christ in the midst of undeserved suffering, thus abiding in God’s love, joy, and peace?
Do your words express the divine mindset that you have been occupied with in the midst of the trying situation you are in?
Do your words and actions commend the ministry and gospel, whether you are in circumstances of honor or dishonor?
Is the new life you profess evidenced in your words and actions toward others, who have mistreated you?
When you are troubled are you able to rejoice by having the consolation of the Spirit’s presence?
When you are in need are you able to impart to others true riches?
If your answer to some or all of these questions is no, then don’t despair, you are not alone. There are many Christians, who don’t know how to walk in the Spirit. But you do, because you have just learned how. This is by confessing known sin, by having your mind renewed by thinking upon the word of God, and by operating in the power of the Spirit.
Learn the responses that were disclosed in this lesson, and apply them in the situations that will come your way to test you. If at first you haven’t thought with Christ’s mind, then confess this response to God the Father, replace these thoughts with divine perspective, and apply them when the test comes about again, and what you will find is God the Spirit will provide you with his comfort and guidance.
Are there times when a believer should avoid helping to restore another believer?
Brethren, if a man be overtaken in a fault, ye which are spiritual, restore such an one in the spirit of meekness; … (Galatians 6:1a)
While it should be every Christian’s desire to want to help restore a fellow believer, whom they have caught by surprise in the act of committing sin, we are instructed that only those who are spiritual should assist in this matter. The word “spiritual” means one who is filled with and governed by the Spirit of God, who has escaped these temptations.
The idea of the word “restore” refers to equipping someone to go on living the Christian life the right way. This involves providing scriptural instruction so that the believer not only admits their sinful behavior, but also is given a scriptural prescription for this area of weakness to appropriate, meditate upon throughout their day, and apply in a time of temptation.
…considering thyself, lest thou also be tempted. (Galatians 6:1b)
However, before we intervene, we should be “considering thyself”. This means to examine ourselves before correcting others. Why? If we haven’t learned how to have victory in this area, then this would cause us to be susceptible to the temptation that has befallen them.
2 Bear ye one another's burdens, and so fulfil the law of Christ.
Those believers who are “spiritual” should help their fellow Christians to overcome their troublesome moral faults or any problems that might befall them.
4 But let every man prove his own work, and then shall he have rejoicing in himself alone, and not in another.
5 For every man shall bear his own burden
The goal is for each believer to be able to examine his/her own way of feeling and acting, his/her aims and endeavors, so that he/she can apply God’s mind (word) in any of their troublesome areas of weakness, being like a soldier going to battle and bearing his own kit.
So this begs the question. If I examine myself and realize I am not at a place in my walk with God with the understanding to know how to address this sinful behavior, then what am I to do? One way would be to ask God to provide for us direction in this area. Another way would be to buy scriptural books or tapes on that particular topic. And still another way could be to go to a fellow believer and tell them you are having difficulty in a particular area of weakness, and could they provide you with some scriptural medicine. And don’t forget to continue to attend to the assembling of the saints, thus being available to hear the teachings from those in leadership.
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How should a Christian respond when they are being unjustly treated by others?