by Steven Chan
18 May 2008
The disciples of Christ or the church of Christ is to be characterised by love among its members as this is the royal command of Jesus (James 2:8) who said: “A new commandment I give to you, that you love one another; as I have loved you, that you also love one another. By this all will know that you are My disciples, if you have love for one another.” (John 13:34-35).
However as is stated in James 3:2, “for we all stumble in many things. If anyone does not stumble in word, he is a perfect man, able also to bridle the whole body.” Even so the tongue is a little member and boasts great things. See how great a forest a little fire kindles! And the tongue is a fire, a world of iniquity.( James 3:5-6). Hence, it is possible for us to stumble in our ways and we may inadvertently or otherwise wrong someone by what we say or do.
It is often the case that in situations where a brother had inadvertently stumbled with his words or actions, that another person has felt the wrong caused by the stumbling brother. The offending brother may be oblivious to the wrong that he may have committed (i.e. may not be aware of).
In such instances, it may be appropriate for the person who has been wronged to adopt the higher moral standard of love as stated in 1 Peter 4:8: “And above all things have fervent love for one another, for “love will cover a multitude of sins.” In other words, if we have fervent love for one another, it is not likely that we will complain against one another: “Therefore, as the elect of God, holy and beloved, put on tender mercies, kindness, humility, meekness, longsuffering; bearing with one another, and forgiving one another, if anyone has a complaint against another; even as Christ forgave you, so you also must do. But above all these things put on love, which is the bond of perfection.” (Col 3:12-15 ) Among the attributes of love are that it is “not easily provoked” (KJV) and it “thinks no evil” or according to the NASB, it “does not take into account a wrong suffered” (1 Cor 13:5).
Brethren who love one another fervently would not be easily offended or easily provoked and is not likely to take into account a wrong suffered. They are inclined to bear with one another with all longsuffering and would be quick to forgive another. According to Prov 19:11, “the discretion of a man makes him slow to anger, and his glory is to overlook a transgression.” “It is honorable for a man to stop striving, since any fool can start a quarrel.” (Prov 20:3). A brother or sister who is able to overlook personal offences, being not easily provoked (to anger by what he hears or sees) and does not take into account a wrong suffered, would be most unlikely to start a quarrel or engender strife among brethren in the church!
Occasionally there may be those who are hyper-sensitive and imagine that everyone is being critical of them and hence, they become easily offended by what may be said or done by some others. Such ought to obey the command of God as stated in Rom 12:18-21: “If it is possible, as much as depends on you, live peaceably with all men. Beloved, do not avenge yourselves, but rather give place to wrath; for it is written, “Vengeance is Mine, I will repay,” says the Lord. Therefore, “if your enemy is hungry, feed him;
If he is thirsty, give him a drink; for in so doing you will heap coals of fire on his head. Do not be overcome by evil, but overcome evil with good.”
As regards the phrase, “if it is possible, as much as depends on you, live peaceably with all men”, it should be noted that we should seek this possibility, i.e. to live peaceably with all men – this implies that it may not always be possible in every instance – especially if others do not seek peace – but as far as the Christian is concerned, (that’s what “as much as depends on you” mean), the Christian should not be the source, originator, escalator or sustainer of the conflict; he should seek peace at all times. The Christian should not seek to start or provoke a conflict or seek to prolong a conflict/controversy – even if you are the one who has been wronged. We should seek to be peacemakers (Psa 34:14; Mat 5:9, Mat 5:39-41; Heb12:14). Let’s pursue the way of love as desired by our Lord.