Thursday, September 22, 2016

When Others Disappoint You...

     You hear it in your conversations with your friends.  You start noticing it on social media.  Things have changed.  Or, at least, your perception of them has changed.

     They are no longer as they once were.  Maybe they have become more rigid in their demeanor.  Perhaps you have noticed them growing lax in standards they once held more strictly...That you both held in common.  You notice the way they "let their hair down;" in ways you never would have expected from them.  You see places they frequent, that you would never (at this time in your life, at least) attend.  You see them wear things that create concern to well up within you.

     You see that doctrines that they once defended, have been denounced by them.  You discover them visiting other churches, (vastly different than their previous one), that greatly astonish you.  You find that they give ear to other doctrines, which disturbs you.  It all disturbs you, frankly.

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     You are let down.  It hurts.  You even are angry, though you keep that to yourself... For the most part.  It is burdensome to you.

How have you been handling your burdens?

Are they getting the best of you?

May I kindly offer some encouragement, and advice?

     First, I want to preface this matter by saying, whenever we see absolutely irrefutable sin being committed by a professing sibling in Christ, it very well ought to bother us.  We are family.  Family is to watch over each other, seeking the benefit of every member.  "Look not every man on his own things, but every man also on the things of others." Philippians 2:4

     Yet, even when we see blatant sin occurring in the lives of our fellow saints, what is the usual response?  Is it prayerfulness, or indignation?  Is it a concern for their spiritual well-being:  knowing that though to be chastened of the Lord is surety of His parental ownership of them, but it is very unpleasant?  Are you concerned for the effects upon other believers these sins may have?  Are you concerned for the Heavenly Father's name being blasphemed by their behavior?

     Are we sharing these things with our Lord?  Do we trust that He will fix the matter, if they indeed are His child?  Do we believe He has the power to overcome the sin that is so easily besetting them?

     If we have talked to Him about it, have you also approached your sinning sibling?  Have you cast the beam out of your own eye, whereby you may effectually aid your brother or sister in removing their speck? Matthew 7:1-5  Have you prepared your heart and mind, so that you become neither puffed up against them, or unaware of the danger of falling into the same sins as they have fallen?  Galatians 6:1-2

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     If you can honestly say that your heart and mind is right, that you have approached everything according to the will of the Lord, yet, the one for whom you are burdened has rejected correction, then, keep praying.  Really, that is all, and one of the most important things, you can do.  Depending on the matter, there may be other steps required, as seen in Matthew 18, or in 1 Corinthians 5.  

     As I see it, the primary way in which any of us can deal with disappointments, is praying to God.  He knows us, so well.  He knows if our hearts are right, or askew.  He knows how to mend, heal, guide, correct... For whichever party, or both, that needs it.

     Also, we need to avoid belittling the one (s) who has disappointed us.  I am reminding myself, here.  It is easy to think less of someone, when they do wrong in our sight. Remember, though, we are all but flesh; you may have, or will be, a disappointment to someone, someday.  How do you want to be treated, if and when that time comes for you? "Therefore all things whatsoever ye would that men should do to you, do ye even so to them:  for this is the law and the prophets." Matthew 7:12

     How we treat each other, is a mark of our belonging to Christ, John 13:34-35.  We never ought to approve sin, Isaiah 5:20.  Yet, sin is a reality, in this life.  How we handle those inevitable disappointments, shows our Christian maturity and love.

     What, though, if it is not sin?  That, my dear sisters, is a topic for another day...
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