How Should We Be Treating One Another?
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During a conversation on recent events, the topic of how we treat each other came up. People have very strong feelings about everything from the government to recent health requirements. The trouble begins when your co-worker, friend, family or member of your church congregation thinks differently than you do. It has caused some hard feelings and arguments that are breaking up relationships. In the conversation I was having, the question of how we should treat one another came up. I had to stop and think. How would Jesus handle it and what can Scripture teach us?
As Christians should we stand our ground and force our opinions onto others? Should we get angry when others do not agree with us? Do we call others selfish, sheep, foolish or busybodies? Things can get very divisive if we are not careful with our words and that has become the problem. No matter what side someone is taking on any given subject, if they consider their opinion to be the only right one there can be problems. Both sides can often quite effectively argue why their beliefs on any given topic are Christian-based. However, rarely is anyone able to change the opposing person’s viewpoint to their way of thinking.
The first event that came to my mind was when Simon Peter cut off the ear of the servant of the high priest when Jesus was being arrested (Matthew 26:47-50 Matthew 26:47-50  And while he yet spoke, see, Judas, one of the twelve, came, and with him a great multitude with swords and staves, from the chief priests and elders of the people.
 Now he that betrayed him gave them a sign, saying, Whomsoever I shall kiss, that same is he: hold him fast.
 And immediately he came to Jesus, and said, Hail, master; and kissed him.
 And Jesus said to him, Friend, why are you come? Then came they, and laid hands on Jesus and took him.
American King James Version×). The disciple was reacting to the situation. He didn’t stop to think. He instead followed his emotions, striking out to protect Jesus, but probably also out of fear. I think that is what is happening with today’s Christians as well. Some people are afraid of what is happening, they want to protect others and themselves and they feel they are being good Christians by doing so. Others feel that being afraid or reacting is not having enough faith in God and that others are overreacting. Is one opinion more Christian than the other?
How did Christ react to the injury? First, He told Peter to put away his sword. He went on to explain that He could call down angels to save Him if he wanted to (Matthew 26:52-54 Matthew 26:52-54  Then said Jesus to him, Put up again your sword into his place: for all they that take the sword shall perish with the sword.
 Think you that I cannot now pray to my Father, and he shall presently give me more than twelve legions of angels?
 But how then shall the scriptures be fulfilled, that thus it must be?
American King James Version×). But there was also something else Jesus did. He reached out and healed the servant of the high priest (Luke 22:51 Luke 22:51And Jesus answered and said, Suffer you thus far. And he touched his ear, and healed him.
American King James Version×). He could have easily let the man bleed and called him out for his deeds but instead, He was compassionate toward him—someone who was against Him. Are we compassionate toward others or are we calling others out?
Colossians 3:1-2 Colossians 3:1-2  If you then be risen with Christ, seek those things which are above, where Christ sits on the right hand of God.
 Set your affection on things above, not on things on the earth.
American King James Version×reminds us that we are to set our minds on what is above, not on what is on earth. We are then told to put anger, wrath, malice, railing, and shameful speaking out of our mouths (:8). The passage then says, “Therefore, as the elect of God, holy and beloved, put on tender mercies, kindness, humility, meekness, longsuffering; bearing with one another, and forgiving one another, if anyone has a complaint against another; even as Christ forgave you, so you also must do. But above all these things put on love, which is the bond of perfection. And let the peace of God rule in your hearts, to which also you were called in one body; and be thankful.” (Colossians 3:12-15 Colossians 3:12-15  Put on therefore, as the elect of God, holy and beloved, bowels of mercies, kindness, humbleness of mind, meekness, long-suffering;  Forbearing one another, and forgiving one another, if any man have a quarrel against any: even as Christ forgave you, so also do you.  And above all these things put on charity, which is the bond of perfection.  And let the peace of God rule in your hearts, to the which also you are called in one body; and be you thankful.
American King James Version×).
Scripture continually teaches that we are to love and live peaceably with one another. We are also told to admonish those who are disorderly and be longsuffering toward all (1 Thessalonians 5:13-14 1 Thessalonians 5:13-14  And to esteem them very highly in love for their work's sake. And be at peace among yourselves.
 Now we exhort you, brothers, warn them that are unruly, comfort the feebleminded, support the weak, be patient toward all men.
American King James Version×). We are being disorderly when we argue with others or are accusatory. We must be longsuffering, which the Oxford dictionary defines as: “having or showing patience in spite of troubles, especially those caused by other people.”
There are many scriptures that can guide us in how we should act and how we should think, more than can be mentioned in this article. While we can all find a few scriptures to back up how we feel about current events, it is important to look at the whole picture. If we take time in prayer and study, we can let God’s Word guide us in our actions. Not necessarily in what we are doing or thinking, but in how we are acting or reacting to others.
Romans 14:19 Romans 14:19Let us therefore follow after the things which make for peace, and things with which one may edify another.
American King James Version× reminds us to “pursue what makes for peace and for mutual upbuilding” (ESV). Hebrews 12:14-15 Hebrews 12:14-15  Follow peace with all men, and holiness, without which no man shall see the Lord:  Looking diligently lest any man fail of the grace of God; lest any root of bitterness springing up trouble you, and thereby many be defiled;
American King James Version×says, “Strive for peace with everyone, and for the holiness without which no one will see the Lord. See to it that no one fails to obtain the grace of God; that no 'root of bitterness' springs up and causes trouble” (ESV). God wants us to be peaceful people and to show His love through our relationships with each other. Christians are repeatedly told to love one another throughout scripture.
When we argue and accuse we are not showing love for each other. “Whoever restrains his words has knowledge, and he who has a cool spirit is a man of understanding” (Proverbs 17:27 Proverbs 17:27He that has knowledge spares his words: and a man of understanding is of an excellent spirit.
American King James Version×, ESV). Sometimes someone innocently expresses their opinion and another becomes offended and angered by it because their beliefs lean in another direction. We are told that “Good sense makes one slow to anger, and it is his glory to overlook an offense” (Proverbs 19:11 Proverbs 19:11The discretion of a man defers his anger; and it is his glory to pass over a transgression.
American King James Version×, ESV). Sometimes there is no “right” answer, even if we think there is. It is best to slow down and remember that a differing opinion of itself is not a sin and not something to get angry about. The adage of agreeing to disagree is a good one in most cases.
When Christ spoke of anger He related it to the commandment not to murder. He said, “But I say to you that everyone who is angry with his brother will be liable to judgment; whoever insults his brother will be liable to the council; and whoever says, ‘You fool!’ will be liable to the hell of fire” (Matthew 5:22 Matthew 5:22But I say to you, That whoever is angry with his brother without a cause shall be in danger of the judgment: and whoever shall say to his brother, Raca, shall be in danger of the council: but whoever shall say, You fool, shall be in danger of hell fire.
American King James Version×, ESV). I recently heard the statement, "When people turn away from God, they start fighting one another." Scary thought! Are we turning from God when we argue? Based on the scriptures to be patient, to love one another and to be longsuffering I would say so.
Infighting has always been a problem in God’s Church. We see it throughout the Bible. Those who scouted out the Promised Land for ancient Israel were afraid to go in, but one disagreed (Numbers 13:21-33 Numbers 13:21-33  So they went up, and searched the land from the wilderness of Zin to Rehob, as men come to Hamath.
 And they ascended by the south, and came to Hebron; where Ahiman, Sheshai, and Talmai, the children of Anak, were. (Now Hebron was built seven years before Zoan in Egypt.)
 And they came to the brook of Eshcol, and cut down from there a branch with one cluster of grapes, and they bore it between two on a staff; and they brought of the pomegranates, and of the figs.
 The place was called the brook Eshcol, because of the cluster of grapes which the children of Israel cut down from there.
 And they returned from searching of the land after forty days.
 And they went and came to Moses, and to Aaron, and to all the congregation of the children of Israel, to the wilderness of Paran, to Kadesh; and brought back word to them, and to all the congregation, and showed them the fruit of the land.
 And they told him, and said, We came to the land where you sent us, and surely it flows with milk and honey; and this is the fruit of it.
 Nevertheless the people be strong that dwell in the land, and the cities are walled, and very great: and moreover we saw the children of Anak there.
 The Amalekites dwell in the land of the south: and the Hittites, and the Jebusites, and the Amorites, dwell in the mountains: and the Canaanites dwell by the sea, and by the coast of Jordan.
 And Caleb stilled the people before Moses, and said, Let us go up at once, and possess it; for we are well able to overcome it.
 But the men that went up with him said, We be not able to go up against the people; for they are stronger than we.
 And they brought up an evil report of the land which they had searched to the children of Israel, saying, The land, through which we have gone to search it, is a land that eats up the inhabitants thereof; and all the people that we saw in it are men of a great stature.
 And there we saw the giants, the sons of Anak, which come of the giants: and we were in our own sight as grasshoppers, and so we were in their sight.
American King James Version×). The Bible doesn’t elaborate but there must have been some debate. Surely Caleb did not just say, "Let’s go!" and shut down when others said they were afraid. Caleb is called faithful so we can assume he was zealous in his argument and there was probably much debate. In this case, the people were mistaken and punished, but the debate surely left some hard feelings between Caleb and the others.
When Job was at his lowest, his friends began to think he had done something wrong. They accused him of causing his own woes even though he had done nothing wrong. They were being self-righteous and God considered punishing them for their misrepresentations. Job reminds his friends, “But wisdom and power belong to God. Good advice and understanding are His.” (Job 12:13 Job 12:13With him is wisdom and strength, he has counsel and understanding.
American King James Version×, Easy to Read Version). He then goes on to say, “I know as much as you do. I am as smart as you are. But I don’t want to argue with you. I want to speak to God All-Powerful. I want to argue with God about my troubles” (Job 13:2-3 Job 13:2-3  What you know, the same do I know also: I am not inferior to you.  Surely I would speak to the Almighty, and I desire to reason with God.
American King James Version×, Easy to Read Version).
Wise words. We shouldn’t argue among ourselves but in all things, go to God to find what is right and good. What you and I think is right is irrelevant. It is what God thinks that matters. God does not make mistakes. Are we living God’s way, according to His will? Are we showing love for Him and each other? How we treat each other is important to God. In the end, that’s all that matters.