I have to say that one of the things that gets under my skin more than anything else is encountering ‘Christians’ whose talk, attitudes, and actions do not reflect the title they claim to bear. I am not talking about those days when a brother slams his finger with a hammer and swears at the top of his lungs. I wish I could say I haven’t done that but I have. I am talking about those who have no problem letting people around them know they go to church, participate in church activities, or even wear a cross for all to see, and yet seem to make absolutely no effort whatsoever to keep their language clean, to refrain from gossip, or to further workplace dissension and bad attitudes.
“If then you have been raised with Christ, seek the things that are above where Christ is seated at the right hand of God. Set your minds on things that are above, not on things that are on earth. For you have died and your life is hidden with Christ in God... Put to death therefore what is earthly in you: sexual immorality, impurity, passion, evil desire, and covetousness, which is idolatry... In these you too once walked, when you were living in them. But now you must put them all away: anger, wrath, malice, slander, and obscene talk from your mouth. Do not lie to one another, seeing that you have put off the old self with its practices and have put on the new self, which is being renewed in knowledge after the image of its creator.” (Colossians 3:1-3,5,7-10 ESV)
We often see our own faults most clearly in other people. Perhaps I am so sensitive to Christians not living according to their title because for a long time I did not attempt to live any differently, even though I claimed to be a follower of Christ. When I was in college the first time I even took a bit of pride in believing that I could be a Christian and not let it affect how I talked, because after all, I thought, at least I am not profaning the name of God. I am not sure if I was a Christian in those days. I certainly did not live like it. And I can still remember clearly the day I read “..put them all away... obscene talk from your mouth.” It hit me like a Mack truck plowing into a watermelon!
I am not proud of my former fleshly living and I certainly will not try to justify it, but maybe, just maybe, the Lord allowed me to act like that for a time so that I might one day write about the experience. When we associate with other Christians, we have a God-given obligation to work to keep one another accountable. Further, if that brother or sister is unwilling to return to obedience than we are to keep from close associating with that person. It sounds harsh, but it is for our protection as well as making a clear statement about their need for repentance. (For more about this, see 2 Thessalonians 3:6-15.)
If this article has been convicting to you, and you realize that you yourself are living in disobedience to the Word of God, then praise God for it and begin today to live according to the way of Christ. It is not by your power that you might accomplish this, but through Christ and the power of the Holy Spirit in you, so repent and pray for strength and purity of heart and mind. – Amen!
“And whatever you do, in word or deed, do everything in the name of the Lord Jesus, giving thanks to God the Father through him.” (Colossians 3:17 ESV)
Scripture quotations are from the ESV® Bible (The Holy Bible, English Standard Version®), copyright © 2001 by Crossway, a publishing ministry of Good News Publishers. Used by permission. All rights reserved.