How often have you come across someone who in one of the first few moments of getting to know each other asks you what church you attend? I have learned, over the course of years, that there are certain subjects you don’t broach with people and religion is suppose to be one of them. So, you stand there and either proudly throw out the name of your church and how involved you are, or, as Scott and I did for years, say that you don’t have an affiliation. The judgmental looks that ensue from such words of blasphemy always shocked me, so I learned to temper my answer by saying we are still looking for the right fit. Was that a lie? No. Look at us now, attending Plymouth, and very proud as well as feel it is a good fit for our family.
Many of these people, that I have had the chance to get to know beyond the first introduction, have taught me something quite profound. There is a vast difference between being religious and having religion. Have I said these words before? Often, and I think it deserves its very own posting. Why the big deal? Because it is a dishonor to God and to the particular religions that many people represent when they stand firmly ensconced behind a religion’s title/name yet their day to day lives have absolutely no representation of what God’s values really teach.
It is hypocrisy at its best. You go to Church every Sunday or for some Saturday or Friday and add in Wednesday. You teach Sunday school to the congregation’s youth. You host religiously inspired meals and events at your home. People see you as the body of what Christ would be proud. And then, in your private lives, you break the rules/laws of the Bible. From obscure rules such as, “Don’t wear clothes made of more than one fabric,” (Leviticus 19:19) “Don’t cut your hair nor shave,” (Leviticus 19:27) and then we get into more meaty parts of laws that so many don’t follow:
You are to forgive the trespasses of your brethren. Gen. 50:17; Matt. 6:12; Matt. 18:21-22, 35; Luke 11:4.
Forgive those you have a quarrel against as Christ forgives us. Eph. 4:32; Col. 3:13.
If your brother trespass against you, rebuke him; and if he repent, forgive him. Luke 17:3.
If your brother trespass against you seven times in a day, and seven times in a day turn again to you, saying, I repent; you shall forgive him. Luke 17:4.
If any has caused sorrow, forgive and comfort him lest he be overwhelmed by the sorrow. 2 Cor. 2:5-7.
If you do not forgive others God will not forgive your trespasses. Matt. 6:14-15; Matt. 18:29-35; Mark 11:25-26.
Whenever you stand praying, forgive, if you have anything against anyone. Mark 11:25.
You shall love your neighbor as yourself. Lev. 19:18; Matt. 19:19; Matt. 22:39; Mark 12:31; Luke 10:27-28; Rom. 13:9; Gal. 5:14; James 2:8.
Christians commanded to love one another as Christ has loved you. John 13:34-35; John 15:12-14, 17; Rom. 12:10; 1 Thes. 4:9; Heb. 13:1; 1 Pet 1:22; 1 Pet 2:17; 1 Pet 3:8; 1 John 2:9. 1 John 3:11; 1 John 4:7, 11; 2 John 1:5.
Let us not love in word or in tongue, but in deed and in truth. John 3:18.
We should walk in and pursue love. 1 Cor. 14:1; Eph. 5:2.
He that does, not love his brother does not love God, for he that loves God loves his brother also. 1 John 4:20-21; 5:1-3.
Through love serve one another. Gal. 5:13.
He that loves not his brother abides in death and walks in darkness. 1 John 2:9-11; 1 John 3:14-15.
Let all that you do be done with love. 1 Cor. 16:14.
Love works no evil, and thus is the fulfilling of the law. Rom. 13:89 10; James 2:8.
Let love be without hypocrisy. Rom. 12:9.
We are to fervently love one another with a pure heart. 1 Pet. 1:22.
Love should be promoted and maintained. Heb. 13:1.
We should be tolerant and forbearing towards one another in order to show our love. Eph. 4:2; Eph. 6:9; Col. 3:13.
The fruit of the Spirit is love, joy, peace, patience, gentleness, goodness, faith. Gal. 5:22.
Love covers a multitude of sins. Prov. 10:12; 1 Pet. 4:8.
Open rebuke is better than love carefully concealed. Prov. 27:5.
Honesty and Sincerity:
Honesty is to be provided to everyone and in all things in life you do. Rom. 12:17; 2 Cor. 8:21; 2 Cor. 13:7; 1 Tim. 2:2; Heb. 13:18
We should think on honest things. Phil. 4:8.
Respect what is right and honest in the sight of all men. Rom. 12:17.
We are to walk honestly. Rom. 13:13; 1 Thes. 4:12.
Sincerity characterizes our love to Christ. Eph. 6:24.
A godly sincerity should characterize our whole conduct. 2 Cor. 1: 12.
He who is near to God speaks the truth in his heart. Psa. 15:1-2.
Dishonest gain condemned. Ezek. 22:13, 27.
The preaching of the gospel to be with sincerity. 2 Cor. 2:17; 1 Phil. 1: 16; Thes. 2:3-5.
Christians exhorted to be sincere. 1 Cor. 5:8.
Those with an honest and good heart hear and keep the word of God and bring forth fruitful work. Luke 8:15.
We should pray on behalf of others that they may be sincere. Phil. 1:9-10.
You shall not lie to one another. Lev. 19:11; Zeph. 13:3; Eph. 4:25; Col. 3:9.
Lying is iniquity and an abomination to God. Prov. 6:16-17, 19; Prov. 12:22; Isa. 59:2-4.
We should pray to be delivered from lying lips that speak contemptuously against the righteous. Psa. 31:18; Psa. 120:2.
The righteous should hate and avoid lying. Psa. 13:5; Psa. 119:163; Prov. 13:5; Isa. 63:8; Zeph. 3:13.
Acquiring treasures by lying is the fleeting fantasy of those who seek death. Prov. 21:6.
Should not respect or keep company with those that lie. Psa. 40:4; Psa. 101:7.
It is better to be a poor man than a liar. Prov. 19:22.
Lying is a sign of apostasy. 2 Thes. 2:9; 1 Tim. 4:1-2.
A lie lasts for but a moment, but truth shall be established forever. Prov. 12:19.
Lying is an inherent attribute of the wicked. Psa. 58:3.
Punishment and judgment for lying. Psa. 5:6; Psa. 63:11; Psa. 120:3-4; Prov. 19:5, 9; Jer. 50:36; Rev. 21:8.
About Hatred and Malice:
Thou shall not hate your brethren in your heart. Lev. 19:17; Col. 3:8; 1 John 3:15.
Wrath is a work of the flesh. Gal. 5:20.
It is wicked to have hatred cloaked by deceit. Prov. 10:18; Prov. 26:24-26.
Hatred stirs up strife Prov. 10:12; Prov. 15:18.
Hatred is inconsistent with the ways of God. 1 John 2:9, 11; 1 John 4:20.
Blessed are you, when men shall hate you, and ostracized you, insult you, and spurn your name as evil, for the sake of Christ. Luke 6:22.
Let none of you think evil in your heart against your neighbor. Zech. 8:17.
Whosoever is angry with his brother without cause shall be in danger of judgment. Matt. 5:22.
Show no malice nor desire ill will towards your brethren. Job. 31:29-30; Psa. 35:12-14; 1 Cor. 14:20; Col. 3:8.
Christian growth requires that you set aside all malice and guile. 1 Pet 2: 1.
Malice works as leaven and is incompatible with sincerity and truth. 1 Cor. 5:8.
There is a time to hate. Eccl. 3:8.
Christian liberty is not to be made a cloak for maliciousness. 1 Pet 2:16.
We should hate those that hate God. Psa. 139:21-22.
A servant of God is to be gentle to all men. 1 Thes. 2:7; 2 Tim. 2:24; Titus 3:2; James 3:17.
About Disputes, Adversaries, and Strife:
Rejoice not at the misfortunes of your adversaries. Job 31:2829; Prov. 24:17.
We are to love our personal adversaries. Matt. 5:44; Luke 6:35.
Pray for and forgive those that hate and persecute you. Matt. 5:44; Luke 23:34; Acts 7:60.
Do not desire the death of your adversaries. 1 Kings 3:11.
We are not to curse adversaries. Job 31:30.
Do not hastily strive with your neighbor, but discuss your cause with him. Prov. 25:8-10.
Do not strive with a man without cause. Prov. 3:30.
Christians exhorted to avoid foolish and ignorant disputes over words, fables, unlearned questions, or matters about the law or genealogies that give rise to mere speculation, knowing that they generate strife, envy, abusive language and evil suspicions. 1 Tim. 1:4; 1 Tim. 6:4; 2 Tim. 2:14,23; Titus 3:9.
The LORD hates him that sows discord among brethren. Prov. 6:16, 19.
Withdraw from disputings between men of corrupt minds, who are destitute of the truth, and suppose godliness is a means of gain. 1 Tim. 6:5.
Strife in your heart is dishonorable. 2 Cor. 12:20; James 3:14.
Pride is a cause of strife and contention. Prov. 13:10; Prov. 28:25.
Do not grumble and complain against one another, lest you be condemned. James 5:9.
We should do all that is possible to avoid strife between brethren. Gen. 13:8.
Christians are not to walk in strife. Prov. 26:17; Rom. 13:13.
We are to avoid those who cause divisions and offenses contrary to biblical doctrine. Rom. 16:17.
You are not to act out of strife but do all things without disputing. Phil. 2:3, 14.
Christians should submit to a petty assault or wrong rather than engage in strife and conflict (should turn the other cheek). Matt. 5:39-40; Luke 6:28-30; 1 Cor. 6:7.
A wrathful man stirs up strife, but he who is slow to anger pacifies contention. Prov. 15:18.
We should seek God’s protection from strife and conflict. Psa. 35:1; Jer. 18:19.
It is honorable for a man to stop striving, since any fool can start a quarrel. Prov. 10:12; Prov. 20:3.
We should praise God for delivering and protecting us from strife. 2 Sam. 22:44; Psa. 18:43.
If your adversary is hungry, feed him; if he thirst, give him drink: for in so doing you shall heap burning coals upon his head. Rom. 12:20.
Strife is a work of the flesh. Gal. 5:20; James 4:1-2.
It is a fool’s lips that start contentions. Prov. 18:6.
Strife leads to confusion and every evil work. James 3:16.
Promoters of strife should be expelled. Prov. 22:10.
The beginning of strife is like releasing water; therefore stop contention before a quarrel starts. Prov. 17:14.
The list does not end here. It seems to me that we are all in violation of one or two of these laws, myself included. Sometimes in today’s society it is difficult to stand behind what we are suppose to value in our religion but to do so must mean we need to reach a place of being religious even if that means that we enter an arena we are not fully comfortable. An arena that others will laugh at or cast you out. Having religion is one thing but being religious takes on a whole different meaning, and way of living.
If you carry your teachings in a manner of religious practice than when you leave the church, synagogue, house of worship you are going to return home and see that neighbor you’ve gossiped about, made hurtful accusations toward, unfriended because the other neighbors have told you too, and you’ll say you are sorry. You will cast your hatred aside and realize that you have violated so many of God’s laws by these self serving acts of hatred. You will pick up the broken body of this person, this family, and tend to their wounds showing mercy, talking, explaining and allowing God’s work to heal them. If you hold your religion in the palms of your hands you will find that the spirit does not want you inflicting pain, but to help heal their pain, even if it means standing against others that do not harbor the laws of God. The sword is sometimes swallowed best whole and fast.