" Do nothing out of selfish ambition or vain conceit, but in humility consider others better than yourselves." -Philippians 2:3
It is something I think every Christian is guilty of. I, included. We are armed with a good dose of truth, things we feel strongly about, things God is working out in us, things that are even good and right, in proper context, order, and understanding. God shows us a revelation or insight and we are all too eager to embrace it, and then shout "Tally Ho!" striking willy nilly in the heat of argument, combat and in the midst of the body of Christ. We can do more harm than good, even with truth.
Recently I have been faced with a battle concerning truth. I am armed to the teeth with truth. My ducks are in a row, I have strong, Biblical support, I am on fire. I am ready to jump in, combat the lies and bring truth to the table. There is nothing wrong with that.
However God has pulled the rein on me as of late. A question came to mind. Why am I doing this? Is it out of selfish ambition? Is it out of my own ire at the system? Is it raw emotion and passion? Who wins in the end?
Recently, God has been teaching me to choose my battles carefully. And when I do choose one, I am being taught to temper it with self control and with right motives. The battle in itself is only part of it. Motives and intentions are crucial.
I see a mindset of pragmatism all across the board, whether they be in the institution or on the organic level. It is a mentality of "whatever gets the truth out there. Whatever works." The mentality is completely detached from the hearts involved, that is, their own hearts and the hearts of the people they are trying to reach.
Is what I am preaching true? Yes. Am I speaking in line with the text of the Bible? In proper context and exegesis? Yes. but even with that in line, I can still be dead wrong if my heart is not attached to my motives and others. The Pharisees were biblically correct. They spoke the truth concerning every law in the Bible, and made sure people knew they followed them. But Jesus saw them as the worst of the bunch as there was no love, only sharp criticism and religious bondage.
There is an old Irish saying that I have come to appreciate. "Never give a sword to a man who can't dance."
I find it rings true. Unless there is a deep, heart connection with love, with beauty, with the bond we have for the body of Christ and His heart for mankind, we best not be holding a sword at all.
I find this problem to be true in the virtual, online community. We forget there are faces on the other side of posts and blogs. We forget that there are human hearts attached to words. It is so easy to dismiss that as we can only see text. Oh but this didn't start with the advent of the internet. This has been around since the first fiery preacher stepped behind the pulpit to address a faceless crowd.
It is easy to preach Bible. Anyone with a degree and some training can do it. It is easy to even speak proper truth and knowledge and wisdom. But if we forget the faces, if we forget the hearts and souls attached to the ones we speak to, we forfeit it all.
Philippians chapter 2 offers deep wisdom and insight as to how to approach the truth and dealing with people. It uses the model of Christ Himself, humbling himself, stepping outside of the realm of Godhood, and into the lowly form of a servant human. In this exhortation, Paul urges us to approach each other with like mind. He is so bold as to tell us to view each other not only equal to ourselves, but better. In the heart and spirit of Jesus' teachings, Paul continues to urge us to take the low road, go down and beneath to lift up.
The Kingdom of God is governed by one law, Love. And it is a place where servants sit on thrones and kings wash feet. Humility and deep respect and goodwill are the currency in heaven. Without those things we won't make it there.
The true spiritual warrior is not one with impassioned vision and the fire of God blazing in his heart. It is the one who knows the sharp precision of his sword and knows how to strike the exact target, never missing. Because love never misses. It is more precise than a brain surgeon's scalpel.
The true spiritual warrior has endless patience, is slow to speak and slow to anger, and very quick to listen. I am learning the art of swordplay, or spiritual fencing. I find the longer I wait, the more keenly I listen, and the more in tune I am with people, the more effective my words can be when I do speak. Wisdom and maturity revolve around this attitude.
All the while we are called to build each other up, esteem them more highly than ourselves. The world teaches self esteem and self love. These are not to be found in the pages of the Bible.
In the Kingdom of Heaven, more is less and less is sometimes more. The last are first, the greatest are the least, the highest are brought low and the lowest are moved to high positions of honor. If the body of Christ is to ever succeed, these must be the first and foremost in our mind.
by David Backus