Therefore I, a prisoner for serving the Lord, beg you to lead a life worthy of your calling, for you have been called by God. Always be humble and gentle. Be patient with each other, making allowance for each other’s faults because of your love.

Ephesians 4:1-2 (NLT)

My wife and I stopped for lunch after church a week or so ago. Only in heaven was it understood why, on a Sunday afternoon, this particular restaurant ran out of the primary food item for which it is known worldwide. Needless to say, their food was not as “fast” as normal, and it was noticed by one customer who had no issue with expressing their displeasure with their wait time—to the point that their complaints became uncomfortably personal to the staff. One sweet young lady behind the counter even went so far as to thank us for being nice as we left. I don’t know if the greatly offended customer was a Christian—hope not—we don’t need that kind of PR.

Students of the Bible know that Paul’s words above were written to believers as they lived, worked, and worshipped with other Christians. It’s certainly not my intent to press a passage out of its context to apply to another circumstance. However, I don’t think it’s a stretch to apply Paul’s teaching that the humility, gentleness, and love with which we treat one another MUST “spill out” into the world that is starving for something that is undeniably different. It accomplishes little if our love for each other demonstrates that we are Jesus’ disciples when we deny that same mercy and grace to others.

I’m left to wonder that if our patience and kindness can be reserved for only those we are “commanded” to love, how truly genuine is it? We know that, even though we might disagree on various issues, we can worship in unity and peace and extend love to each other because we are family through the blood of Jesus. Yet, many congregations have born witness to their communities of the damage that can be done to “the family” when humility and gentleness are sacrificed on the altar of personal opinions or agendas. 

The Holy Spirit is grieved any time someone has the audacity to claim, “Yes, I’m a Christian, but . . . .”