“For though I be free from all men, yet have I made myself servant unto all, that I might gain the more. And unto the Jews I became as a Jew, that I might gain the Jews; to them that are under the law, as under the law, that I might gain them that are under the law; To them that are without law, as without law, (being not without law to God, but under the law to Christ,) that I might gain them that are without law. To the weak became I as weak, that I might gain the weak: I am made all things to all men, that I might by all means save some.(1Co 9:19-22)

The apostle Paul’s example convicts me, and today, I look harder at myself. Am I willing, have I tried, to extend myself that far?

I hear the voices around me, awful, nasty comments from those in the church. IN THE CHURCH. Tearing down this preacher or that celebrity, who may or may not have faltered. And I grieve over it.

It’s as ungodly as what him or her has been accused of. We cannot sit in the pew, smile at the sermon, and stab someone in the side.

We cannot focus on the sin, condemn the sin, and be content to destroy the sinner.

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In 2 Corinthians 2, Paul addresses a matter that he had admonished the church on in his previous letter. A member had been allowed to attend while living freely in a known sin, and he’d instructed them to deal with it. (1Co 5:1)

But notice his next words: “Contrariwise ye ought rather to forgive him, and comfort him.” And then also, “I beseech you that ye would confirm your love toward him.” (2Co 2:7-8)

We have been instructed to pray for all men, to pray for government, to love and “do good” for our enemies. Nowhere in any of that does it say to gossip or tear anyone down. Regardless of how we feel about them, our reaction as a Christian is to pray and to love one another like Christ. (1Ti 2:1-2; Lk 6:27; Eph 5:2)

And hear this — “God, crucify him,” is not a prayer but an accusation. We should NEVER wish evil on anyone.

Instead, we are told to encourage one another. Romans 14:19 in the Passion Translation says this powerfully: “So then, make it your top priority to live a life of peace with harmony in your relationships, eagerly seeking to strengthen and encourage one another.” 

Eagerly. As a top priority. This means it’s not optional or last on the list. The grace that God has extended to us, we are to extend to others, above all else. Grace with our actions. With our reactions. With our thoughts. We are to think on things that are just, pure, lovely, of good report, and of virtue. (Php 4:8)

We are to give grace with our words.

Don’t say anything that will hurt others, but only say what is helpful [good] to make others stronger [build others up] and meet their needs. Then what you say will do good [give grace; be a gift] to those who listen to you.” (Eph 4:29 EXB, paraphrased]

My mother used to say, “If you can’t say anything nice, then say nothing at all.” I’m sure she didn’t originate that saying, but how much we, as the children of God, have forgotten it.

How we feel about someone is unimportant. Who we like or dislike doesn’t matter. We are no longer controlled by our emotions, tossed to and fro like the sea. (Jas 1:6)

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Proverbs 14:30 in the Message Bible says, Runaway emotions corrode the bones.”

How true that is. We are people of faith, who walk by faith, and we follow the example of Christ, who died for whosoever, and instructed us to love in that same measure.

This is what makes us Christians, Christ followers. People look at us and see Him. (Jn 13:34)

“Let Christ himself be your example as to what your attitude should be.” (Php 2:5 PHILLIPS)

Suzanne D. Williams, Author