26 When he came to Jerusalem, he tried to join the disciples, but they were all afraid of him, not believing that he really was a disciple. 27 But Barnabas took him and brought him to the apostles. He told them how Saul on his journey had seen the Lord and that the Lord had spoken to him, and how in Damascus he had preached fearlessly in the name of Jesus. 28 So Saul stayed with them and moved about freely in Jerusalem, speaking boldly in the name of the Lord. 29 He talked and debated with the Hellenistic Jews, but they tried to kill him. 30 When the believers learned of this, they took him down to Caesarea and sent him off to Tarsus.
Oh how our reputations precede us. Not only for bad but also for good. Though Saul was working in the Spirit and being obedient to God there was still a bit of humanity that slowed his ministry. With that God used a bit of humanity to help Saul. SO many Christians shrug off how they may look terrible in the eyes of others. In this case Saul had truly been doing something terrible. However, in many cases Christians will do things that seem so terrible to others and DON’T care what they look like. They assume God will take care of defending their ministry. Unfortunately I am reminding you that God promises the defend us for suffering for His sake, not our pride’s sake. Saul is now walking with the Spirit and doing the CORRECT thing, but the actions themselves do not change how he looks to other people. His actions alone did not reshape his reputation. Instead, God used Saul’s relationship with someone else to help him. Many Christians speak “boldly” (arrogantly and proud) about things and speak in “love” (rude, not Spirit sensitive, and downright disrespectful) and “count on God to change it” (my lack of attention is His problem). Fortunately, God is patient. God is kind. God is loving enough to not strip those who are acting arrogantly from the face of the Earth like He did with Ananias and Sapphira. We need to realize the necessity for other people, the need for us to love and cherish our relationships. Though God COULD speak through your disgusting actions and show your heart, He uses humans. God uses humans to sharpen one another and prompts us to work as a team for His mission. We need to stop being quick to poke out the eye of every brother or sister who disagrees with us under the guise of “I report to God alone.”
Let me simplify this: Hatefulness is not loving just because it has to do with God. Stop acting like being hateful, rude, and straight ignorant towards people and acting like you are following the Spirit of God. Christ was only aggressive a few choice times and those were times when people who were following God were openly perverting the truth and acting like God had said it… Ya know… against the people who do exactly what I have stated above… You’ll be hard pressed to find Scripture that says “Stand up and be a lion!” Instead you’ll find an overwhelming amount that says lay down your rights, your entitlements, and everything else for the sake of loving others in Christ’s name.
Your reputation proceeds you. If you have burned bridges on all sides perhaps that was God’s grace deterring the majority from being able to hear your false Gospel… Your directive is love. Love, not REDEFINING LOVE! Stop. Hate does not equal love, and redefining love is just the first step in agreeing that WE can redefine everything… which leads to apostasy-.
Oh Lord help me not to be deceived and think that my arrogant selfish actions are “loving” and “bringing righteous judgement!” Instead remind me daily that it is YOUR job to judge the unsaved, and it is MY job to show them the grace YOU showed me. Help me not to become self righteous. Help me to not forget that I was exactly where they are. Remind me to treat them the way I WOULD LIKE YOU TO TREAT ME!! 🙂 Amen.
Whew… maybe your reputation precedes you. Maybe it’s not a good reputation. Maybe it’s something You thought was good, but are now realizing is not what God would have you display. Go reconcile some relationships, and be intentional about walking with the Spirit!