Resist the Urge to Wrestle with Words

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As a daycare provider, if I hold an infant down and force him to eat food, I am committing child abuse. For starters, I am restraining the child so he is unable to resist the food because he is already giving cues by turning his face, putting his hand up, moving his body away from the food, and crying. For me to continue shows I have no regard for his feelings. Secondly, by putting food into his mouth as his continues to try to spit it out and do his best to protest, I am endangering his life because I can overfeed him, he can choke on the food I am giving him, or food can go down his windpipe and into his lung instead of his stomach. If I continue with my actions, I am showing I have no regard for his life.

There’s something special about discovering a message in the Bible. It’s like being granted one of the select spots to a magnet school or being given a scholarship. You feel selected by God for that moment to learn something directly from Him (you know, provided you learned it “right”). However, I have learned that just because you learn something doesn’t mean 1) that message is for everyone, 2) you learned everything there is to know about that topic, 3) that you are chosen to teach that lesson and not move on to another topic until you feel everyone has gotten it. I’ve had to be reminded of this lesson a few times in my excitement to spread information and stress a point.

Let’s go back to our eating example. If you prepare a meal, you have every right to offer it to your guest, friend, relative, whomever. If that man does not like your meal, you may be hurt because you spent all day preparing it. You might offer some seasoning, ask him to try again, or suggest trying it a different way on another day. If he doesn’t like it, he doesn’t like it. Eating more will not make him like it better. If anything, it will make him hate it. On the other hand, he may eat the meal politely but not want seconds. Just because you prepared a buffet for one doesn’t mean he’s required to consume the table. So what happens if you feel he shouldn’t waste the food?

In order to force that grown man to eat your food, you will have to restrain him and shovel food down his throat. One of two things is likely to occur. Either you will tie him to a chair and pour food down his throat the same way you would water a yard with a hose and cause him horrible pain if he doesn’t die, or he will fight you off and cause you great physical harm because you refused to respect the fact that he politely declined your meal. Either way, someone’s going to be greatly harmed in the process.

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The sad thing is that you’re likely to feel attacked because the man punched you dead in your face when you never actually “hit” him. You’ll look for supporters to tell you how considerate you were in going out of your way to give this ingrate a meal. While you did not ball your fist to hit him, you crossed the line in your actions. It’s called “spiritual battery/abuse”! Think back to the whole purpose of you sharing your meal. What was the reason you offered it? You offered it because you received it wholeheartedly. Did God force feed you? Did God shove this in your face 24/7 until you were finally beat down with the Word that you gave up reluctantly and resented what was given? No? Then what makes you think it’s your job to be the slave master for the next man?

The next problem you create is that you set yourself as if you’re higher than God. We are called to be servants – not tyrants. By bombarding your friend with your teaching and not allowing him to not accept it, you are saying that your word is the final truth. In essence, you are saying, you are “infallible” and above correction. Let me send this reminder: God is omniscient – not us. It’s quite possible that you may be wrong, but your pride will not allow you to see it. We’re not going to have all the answers here, so we need each other to help fill in the gaps.

“9 For we know in part, and we prophesy in part. 10 But when that which is perfect is come, then that which is in part shall be done away. 11 When I was a child, I spake as a child, I understood as a child, I thought as a child: but when I became a man, I put away childish things. 12 For now we see through a glass, darkly; but then face to face: now I know in part; but then shall I know even as also I am known. 13 And now abideth faith, hope, charity, these three; but the greatest of these is charity.” – 1 Cor 13:9-13

Charity is more than just “love,” it is a love that has compassion, which means a person loves and is moved to act out of that love to the point of giving. There is nothing charitable about beating down a fellow worker in the Lord Jesus Christ in order to ensure he eats your meal. I have been involved in many, many conversations and teachable moments, and I have learned the undervalued importance of silence. Allow a man to digest and determine if he wants more. Just because he does not want what is on the menu for that day does not mean it is a reflection on you nor does it mean he will not eat again. However, if you refuse to allow him to walk away from the table and use every opportunity you can to shovel food into his mouth, then you need to evaluate yourself. We do not attempt to belittle, degrade, humiliate, embarrass, harass, or manipulate our brothers and sisters. We do not need to resort to passive aggressive techniques or beat them over the head with verses. Let the Holy Spirit convict a person after you have said your part, and let God be God. He’s managed to do pretty well so far without you needing to pinch hit for Him.

Emulations zēlos, From ζέω (G2204)

1) excitement of mind, ardour, fervour of spirit
a) zeal, ardour in embracing, pursuing, defending anything
1) zeal in behalf of, for a person or thing
2) the fierceness of indignation, punitive zeal
b) an envious and contentious rivalry, jealousy

Varianceeris

1) contention, strife, wrangling

Strifeeritheia, Perhaps as the same as ἐρεθίζω (G2042)

1) electioneering or intriguing for office
a) apparently, in the NT a courting distinction, a desire to put one’s self forward, a partisan and fractious spirit which does not disdain low arts
b) partisanship, fractiousness

This same word was “found before NT times only in Aristot., Polit. 5, 3 p. 1302b, 4; 1303a, 14, where it denotes a self-seeking pursuit of political office by unfair means” (BDAG).

Paul exhorts the church to be one in the mind of Christ not putting self forward or being selfish (Phl 2:3). Jam 3:14 speaks against having selfishness or self-promoting in your heart. (Wayne Steury)

Seditionsdichostasia, From a derivative of δίς (G1364) and στάσις (G4714)

1) dissension, division

“19 Now the works of the flesh are manifest, which are these; Adultery, fornication, uncleanness, lasciviousness, 20 Idolatry, witchcraft, hatred, variance, emulations, wrath, strife, seditions, heresies, 21 Envyings, murders, drunkenness, revellings, and such like: of the which I tell you before, as I have also told you in time past, that they which do such things shall not inherit the kingdom of God. 22 But the fruit of the Spirit is love, joy, peace, longsuffering, gentleness, goodness, faith, 23 Meekness, temperance: against such there is no law. 24 And they that are Christ’s have crucified the flesh with the affections and lusts. 25 If we live in the Spirit, let us also walk in the Spirit. 26 Let us not be desirous of vain glory, provoking one another, envying one another.” – Gal 5:19-26

If you find yourself slipping into these activities or practicing them, back up and go another direction before you cause irreparable damage and develop worse habits. People go through enough as lost people or those who are recovering from “church hurt.” We don’t need to add to that by coming down on them like a sledgehammer and mercilessly pounding our ideas into their heads at every opportunity.

“31 The ear that heareth the reproof of life abideth among the wise. 32 He that refuseth instruction despiseth his own soul: but he that heareth reproof getteth understanding. 33 The fear of the Lord is the instruction of wisdom; and before honour is humility.” – Prov 15:31-33

Profile of an Abusive Church series

“Bridle my tongue.
Let my words edify.
Let the words of my mouth
be acceptable in Thy sight.
Take charge of my thoughts
both day and night.
Please order my steps on Your Word.”


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