Be Nice!

Today’s Scripture is from James 4:11-12 ,New International Version (NIV),
 
“Brothers and sisters, do not slander one another. Anyone who speaks against a brother or sister or judges them speaks against the law and judges it. When you judge the law, you are not keeping it, but sitting in judgment on it. There is only one Lawgiver and Judge, the one who is able to save and destroy. But you—who are you to judge your neighbor?”
Today’s blog post is by Peter Borsella,
 
As I’ve been summer stretching with the rest of you I’ve been more focused on doing things I normally wouldn’t do, but this verse is calling me to stretch myself and stop doing something I might already be doing.
 
Does James really have to state the obvious about not speaking evil of each other?  Yes, I suppose in the same way “do not murder” is obvious.  God knows my heart and knows I need to hear these instructions anyway, particularly since Jesus told us that if I have hatred in my heart I’m just as much a murderer as the one who acts on it (see Matt 5:21-22).
 
James is addressing us as brothers and sisters, which means he’s speaking to we who are already part of God’s family, connected together through Christ, all living with the same Holy Spirit inside of us.  And yet, like little children we have to be told by our Father not to bad-mouth each other and “be nice.”
 
Even more convicting is the idea that when we speak ill of each other we are not honoring Christ’s message of love and unity, and, we are taking God’s place in judging each other.  Our words have the power to help unite us together or divide us against each other.
 
Sometimes slandering is hiding under gossip about someone.  I do this.
Sometimes backbiting is hiding under complaints about someone.  I do this, way too much.
Sometimes bad-mouthing is hiding under anger when we’ve been wronged by another.  I do this, too.
 
As Christ’s body we are called this day to love each other in unity, not harm each other in judgement. 
Today, I will be nice.

Unfair & Square

Today’s Scripture is Luke 6:27-28,

“But I say to you that listen, love your enemies, do good to those who hate you, bless those who curse you, pray for those who abuse you.”

Today’s blog post is by Olivia Reynolds, Summer Ministry Intern…

I’m a big sister, so I’ve developed a finely-tuned sense of what is and isn’t fair. Since I was the oldest, my parents usually made me wait until I’d reached a certain milestone before I got something I really wanted. For example, I couldn’t get a cell phone until I turned thirteen, even though I whined that all my friends already had phones and couldn’t I pleeeeease just have one?

I eventually received my long-awaited Motorola Razr, but I was horrified when my sister and brother (two and four years younger than me, respectively) got their own phones soon after. They didn’t have to wait like I did.  I whined again.  It just wasn’t faaaaaaair.

Sometimes the life Jesus calls us to live isn’t fair, either. Jesus’ original audience was used to Old Testament law and the retributive “eye for an eye” approach to justice. It must have seemed strange when this revolutionary rabbi told his disciples to show mercy and generosity even to their enemies. Jesus asks us to give our time, our money, and our love without expecting to be repaid.

The goal of the Christian life isn’t to get what we deserve. In fact, we’ve already received incredible grace, way beyond what we deserve! When I find myself being cynical or critical or just plain grouchy because life seems unfair, I have to be reminded that I don’t need to settle the score. God’s love for me far outweighs my complaints.

Spiritual growth isn’t about the things I achieve or the benefits that I store up for myself. It’s about becoming more like Jesus, so that the rest of the world sees grace and goodness.

Today, I’ll pray that when we’re faced with tough circumstances or difficult people, God reminds us that we’re called to a higher standard. I’ll ask that He gives us peace and strength to look beyond what’s “fair” and do what’s right.