Paul about Paul and others: “Brethren, join in following my example, and observe those who walk according to the pattern you have in us.” (Philippians 3:17)

Paul to Timothy: “Let no one look down on your youthfulness, but rather in speech, conduct, love, faith and purity, show yourself an example of those who believe.” (1 Timothy 4:12)

Paul to Titus: “Likewise urge the young men to be sensible; in all things show yourself to be an example of good deeds, with purity in doctrine, dignified, sound in speech which is beyond reproach, so that the opponent will be put to shame, having nothing bad to say about us.” (Titus 2:6-8)

If we are committed to Jesus Christ, let us show others Jesus Christ in our lives by the way we act. If we are committed to godliness, let us show others godliness in the way we behave. If we are committed to being God’s people, let us show others what it means to be God’s people in the ways we talk and act.

Are we perfect? Never! Yet, may our love for each other be greater than the flaws we see in each other (Ephesians 4:32). That is the incredible love God has for each of us. Though He accurately knows the flaws in each of us, He loves enough to forgive. How can we be God’s children and do less than love each other—even if we disagree?

I was recently reminded of how incredibly easy it is to be misunderstood. All any of us can do is be sincere, honest, kind, and as consistent as humanly possible. None of us will ever know how often brothers and sisters are compelled to explain something we did or said. How can we repay such unknown but necessary kindness? By being kind enough to explain when others misunderstand someone in Christ. May we not doubt another’s Christian commitment to Christ because we disagree with his or her convictions! May he or she not reject us!

Every religious group I have known understands how to squabble! Most can squabble with genuine expertise! Rare is the group that has more expertise in kindness and forgiveness than it has in squabbling. The secret in eliminating squabbling is not found in controlling others—it is found in controlling yourself!

May we be a people wherever we are who know how to be kind and encouraging, but who refuse to squabble. If you wish to be a striking example who cannot be ignored, have the courage to be a kind person rather than a contentious person. Such will never be easy, but it will consistently represent God well by exhibiting godly manners!

When you deeply believe something, be consistent in your life with your faith, but act like a believer in your interaction with others. In the first century, Jewish and gentile Christians did that with gaps bigger than anything we face. May we learn to be as patient as God and as gentle as Jesus. May our patience and gentleness be reflected in our holy manners! May people consider what we say because they are impressed with our lives of consideration! Being in Christ results in our becoming a people of holy manners!

David Chadwell

West-Ark Church of Christ, Fort Smith, AR
Bulletin Article, 5 July 2007

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