Jesus was frequently out-front with His opinion. He spoke boldly, and there is a time for that. But Jesus got what He said from the Holy Spirit, and through the Spirit, from the Father. He lived a life of fasting in words and actions, as much as in food, a life of godliness and of commitment to spreading the love of the Father.
I WATCHED A VIDEO that moved me to tears. An American flag had fallen on a broken flagpole, and a young boy stopped to pick it up. Unable to reattach the pole, he laid it down gently and went to move on, but the homeowner, a veteran, came outside to ask him about it. Then something wonderful happened. The older man took the time to teach the young boy how to fold the flag, and when it was properly folded, he gave it to him.
Can prayer save a nation? Can respect? What are we doing to love one another in this nation, or have we been reduced to warring factions, to “strifes of words”? It seems that way. Corruption runs rampant and no one can be depended on.
I had an epiphany like this moment in the video, a number of years ago. I was eating at a local fast-food restaurant and had left my tray of empty food wrappers perched on the end of the table when a boy, age fifteenish, stopped and asked me if he could take my tray to the trash can for me. I sat there amazed that someone had taught him to ask in the first place, much less that he did so willingly and without complaint.
We bathe our complaints in excuses. We’re allowed to say what we want to say because we are a free people, and it is our right. We cloak our excuses in the idea we’re of a particular culture or age or education. We say we’re allowed because we’re in the church. Worst of all, within the church, we use Scripture to justify our opinions and lambast unbelievers, governments, and horribly, ourselves.
But it is as your mother used to say—for every finger pointed outward there are four more pointed back at you. The Word of God is certain on our behavior, and Jesus our Savior, Himself, clear that we are to love one another, to love and do good to our enemies, going so far as to give them the shirt off our backs, and to pay our taxes and pray for our government.
Prayer is words used properly, and prayer for people is the task we are given to do. Respect comes out of that, and forgiveness. Here again, I think of a story. The Lord laid it on a friend’s heart to apologize to someone, although she was not in the wrong. After much wrestling, she obeyed, and the friendship was restored. Do you get that? She apologized although she was not at fault.
Nowhere in the Word of God does it say our words are to be weak. This is what we think happens when we apologize. But to the contrary, forgiveness is strength. Self-control is strength. Jesus was frequently out-front with His opinion. He spoke boldly, and there is a time for that. But Jesus got what He said from the Holy Spirit, and through the Spirit, from the Father. He lived a life of fasting in words and actions, as much as in food, a life of godliness and of commitment to spreading the love of the Father. He turned the government on its ear by being obedient to it. But never weak. He was a man living on an earth filled with sin, yet He was sinless. This was not possible without denying the flesh, and in that He was incredibly strong.
Do we teach this to our children? Would we take the time to show them right from wrong with our actions? Do we teach them to pray because we pray ourselves? To forgive as we have forgiven? This circles back to the video. There is that veteran teaching a boy respect for a flag which other Americans died for, which other countries died for. People of other nationalities, fighting for other governments, died so we could be free. And God gave us this freedom, and He gave us His Word, and He gave us His love and kindness, and at the base of it all, His eternal life. It all works together. You cannot separate us from the love of God, from the life of God, nor from the principles which Jesus Christ, the Messiah, came to earth to represent. You cannot separate us from the people He gave to earth to die and rise again to save.
You cannot separate us from the children we are raising, who will learn nothing of virtue and excellence unless we set the example through our words and our actions. Unless we stop making excuses for what we’ve done wrong and show them God’s heart for people and the unity of a nation, of the church, which is His body filled with all that He is. Love.
“And so it is in the body of Christ. For though we are many, we’ve all been mingled into one body in Christ. This means that we are all vitally joined to one another, with each contributing to the others.” (Romans 12:5 TPT)
“Be faithful to guard the sweet harmony of the Holy Spirit among you in the bonds of peace, being one body and one spirit, as you were all called into the same glorious hope of divine destiny. For the Lord God is one, and so are we, for we share in one faith, one baptism, and one Father. And He is the perfect Father who leads us all, works through us all, and lives in us all!” (Ephesians 4:3-6 TPT)
Suzanne D. Williams, Author
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