“He who mocks the poor shows contempt for their Maker; whoever gloats over disaster will not go unpunished.” -Proverbs 17:5 (NIV)
The poor and suffering are all around us. Whether they are images on a television screen, people we encounter on our streets, or even within our own circle of friends and relatives, they are there as an ever present reality. What is our reaction to such situations? How often have we borne witness to scenes of poverty and misery by simply saying to ourselves “I’m glad it isn’t me”. I daresay that this has become our standard response. Not only does it reflect a highly individualistic and indifferent attitude towards those afflicted by suffering, but it is essentially flaunting our perceived success in the faces of those who are in torment. The truth is that in this earthly world nothing is permanent, and all our treasures could vanish in an instant.
Christ has called us by His example to not only show concern for the poor and downtrodden, but to tangibly assist them in their hour of need both physically and spiritually. All men, whether rich or poor, content or distressed, are created in the image of God. As such, to adopt an attitude of indifference or a perceived sense of superiority over others because of our own pleasant circumstances shows a disdain for God Himself. When our hearts are filled with pride, we idolize our achievements and become selfish with the resources God has given us. But when we surrender ourselves to Christ by personally accepting His redemptive sacrifice for our sins and allowing Him to invade our hearts, He will work to shatter our egocentric attitudes and replace them with His love. When we allow His love to overflow through us, our interactions with those around us will change dramatically. We will look for opportunities to display the love which Christ has shown us; seeking to be by His enabling, living examples of who He is and the hope which is available through Him.
“For where jealousy and selfish ambition exist, there will be disorder and every vile practice.” -James 3:16 (ESV)
Throughout history there are countless examples of political intrigue and assassination plots. In the vast majority of these cases the motivations are the same; jealousy and selfish ambition. It is human tendency to covet, to yearn after and seek to take something that does not belong to us. When such greed has taken over our hearts, we will go to any length to see that we obtain the object of our desire. That is why we see in the pages of human history, rival families squabbling over an earthly throne and leaders ousting leaders in an often highly violent fashion where every act of depravity and deceit is employed. What adds to this tragedy is that prolonged internal struggles for power ruins empires and kingdoms; rendering them ineffective and vulnerable to outside threats.
When we have allowed jealousy and an obsession over our selfish desires to gain a foothold in our hearts, nobody wins. Such attitudes only serve to degrade ourselves and destroy our relationships with others. The preacher Robert Schuller once said that, “Ambition without love is dangerous.” If compassion is absent from us, we can guarantee that our envy and selfishness will cause destruction wherever we go and shatter our unity amongst each other. However, through Christ we can spare ourselves of this misery. When we have allowed His Spirit to enter in our hearts and carry out His redemptive work in our lives, He will fill us with His love. Christ will open our eyes to see ourselves and those around us as being created in the image of God and therefore precious in His sight. Our jealousy will be purged from us when we find our security and worth in Him, and rest in His faithful providence; enabling us by His Spirit to serve others and remain in harmony with God and with each other.
Scripture quotations are from The Holy Bible, English Standard Version® (ESV®), copyright © 2001 by Crossway, a publishing ministry of Good News Publishers. Used by permission. All rights reserved
“So in Christ we who are many form one body, and each member belongs to all the others.” -Romans 12:5 (NIV)
Our bodies are like finely tuned machines, with each part dependant on one another. Though they are diverse in appearance and function, they work together in order to carry out the many tasks the body requires. If even one part of the body was rendered unusable, the entire body would be affected. For example, the brain can send signals to the legs to move and run, but if the legs are paralyzed or some other part of the body is preventing the legs to move, then the body will not go anywhere. Or suppose if the eyes see trouble brewing yet the mouth refuses to speak. How then will our voice be able to call out for help in that critical moment? That is why we seek treatment from doctors when something is wrong with our bodies, so that all its members will be able to work together in an effective manner.
Whether we like it or not we are all connected together in the same way as one body. Thus our attitudes and actions affect those around us. If we think that our anger and pride only affects the person that these are directed to, we are sadly mistaken for everyone will suffer in some form or another. Our selfishness and hatred can do devastating damage in our lives and just as how a spider’s web can fall apart if one thread is cut, so too will our relationships crumble. At the root of the problem is our innate sinful nature. This is what propels us to give into harmful attitudes that will only cause us to become mired in unnecessary conflict and misery. It is only when we have allowed Christ to enter our hearts that He will break the hold sin has over us so that He can begin His restorative work in our lives. When we abide in His Spirit and allow His love to shine from within us, there is no room for sin to taint our relationships with others. We will move forward together in unity as Christ propels us to love so that He may impart life to the people around us.
Scripture taken from the HOLY BIBLE, NEW INTERNATIONAL VERSION®. Copyright © 1973, 1978, 1984 by International Bible Society. Used by permission of Zondervan. All rights reserved.