When a Christian is active in God’s family on earth for a many years, he or she experiences many joys and sorrows. He or she experiences the joys of knowing, being encouraged by, and witnessing quality people do incredible things. He or she also experiences the sorrows of seeing some of those same incredible people make some extremely disappointing personal decisions.

There are moments I remember feeling “justified” for doing things that I now deeply regret. There are moments I remember saying things I thought were profound only to discover later that they were only stupid. Unfortunately, life does not have a “do over” button. When “now” anxieties “justify” anxious decisions, later in life [when hopefully we know better because we have learned more] all we can do is live with the regret.

I have seen incredible sacrifice, unbelievable kindness, quiet acts of service, planned thoughtfulness beyond imagination, and forgiveness only because hearts were touched by God. I have witnessed Christians take enormous risks to be kind. I have seen Christians care for people one would not have thought they noticed.

Also, I have seen one elder force another elder to resign because “he is consistently late.” I have had a mature Christian come to my carport before daylight multiple times to put roofing nails under my tires because he was angry with me. I once saw two leading men of a congregation prepare to fist fight each other in a business meeting because they disagreed. I witnessed a congregation’s leadership totally alter their decision process to keep one negative person from vetoing all mission decisions. I have been told by an angry Christian that every problem existing in a congregation was my fault. [None of these incidents occurred at West-Ark.]

In all these situations, Christians felt fully justified in their acts and decisions. Also, all these Christians did some truly godly things. In my judgment, they just got more emotional and anxious about matters than God is. Thus, they decided they were “justified” in settling matters their way instead of God’s way.

When we are dead and not even an asterisk on the horizon, God will still prevail. We need to exercise great care to assist God and not Satan in our anxieties. High on God’s priority list is the godless world learning peace from God’s family.

Paul made this statement to Jewish Christians and gentile Christians who were in such dispute that they treated each other as enemies: “But if you bite and devour one another, take care that you are not consumed by one another” (Galatians 5:15).

David Chadwell

West-Ark Church of Christ, Fort Smith, AR
Bulletin Article, 21 September 2006

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