Many years ago, while pastoring in Moab, Utah, I came across a poster in a Christian Bookstore that featured two bulls head to head trying to gain ground on the other. Below the picture was the caption, “Lord, please forgive others when they don’t see things my way.” Of course I had to buy it! Then I put it on the bulletin board in the foyer of the Moab Christian Center. Needless to say, I got a lot of mileage out of that poster. Why? Because I believe that we can all relate it. What brought this to my mind was something someone was saying on television the other night. The man speaking said, “My father said that there were two ways of doing things, the wrong way and his way.”
It is God’s will that those in the Body of Christ endeavor, by the power of the Holy Spirit, to walk in unity and love with one another, to be tolerant of one another as we are growing together in Christ. Paul instructed the members of the Ephesian church with these words, “…with all humility and gentleness, with patience, showing tolerance for one another in love” (Ephesians 4:2). And just how are we to do that? The Apostle expands on that thought in his letter to the Philippians, “If therefore there is any encouragement in Christ, if there is any consolation of love, if there is any fellowship of the Spirit, if any affection and compassion, make my joy complete by being of the same mind, maintaining the same love, united in spirit, intent on one purpose. Do nothing from selfishness or empty conceit, but with humility of mind let each of you regard one another as more important than himself; do not merely look out for your own personal interests, but also for the interests of others” (Philippians 2:1-4).
There was a time in my life that being right was so very important. But over the years I then found that in winning the battles, I often alienated family and friends. And so many times, the battles were not even worth fighting. Today, I regret the wounds that I inflicted and the relationships that were broken because I had to be right. In His mercy, God began to show me that I was called to prove myself in love, not called to prove myself right. He began to deal with my heart by revealing to me the One Another admonitions in the New Testament. Here I found 29 admonitions to put others before myself and my feelings, with the Philippian passage perhaps being the most powerful of all, “…regard one another as more important than yourself.” This was the attitude that filled the heart of Jesus as He walked this earth. The creator of all became the servant of all.
Join me in a moment of fantasy. Just imagine, if you would, a body of believers that are individually committed to regarding one another as more important than themselves. Imagine the possibilities! Imagine the testimony! It need not be a fantasy, because all things are possible through Christ (Philippians 4:13). But it has to begin somewhere and with someone and since I have no control over the thoughts and words and actions of others, it must first begin with me.
Father, forgive me when I feed the desire to be right. Forgive me for taking offense at others when they never meant to be offensive. Teach me that others do not need to see things my way on every issue. Give me grace to hear by brothers and sisters from the heart and to love them dearly whether or not they ever see things my way. And in this may the light of Jesus shine in and through my life. Amen.