(The Abundant Life Series – Batch 2)
The following is a letter I wrote to a Church I once attended some years ago, which was going through quite a lot of turmoil and a breakdown in the relationships shared with each other. The devil was aggressively on the loose, right among the gathering and while I myself was far from perfect, the extent of the discord, dissension and disunity, broke my heart.
I felt compelled to write to the members of that Church about this problem and so I did. However, for some reason, I never summed up the courage to give the letter to the individual members as I had planned to, although I made enough photocopies of it for everyone, together with the Article by another author I was recommending that they read. I was convinced that it would have had a positive impact on their lives and cause them to reconsider and repent of their actions but still, I never distributed the copies.
I was therefore puzzled later on, as to why the Lord had allowed me to go through all the trouble to write the letter and to make the copies, when he knew that those Church members would never receive it.
Nevertheless, several years later, although I had not a clue back then that I would one day utilize social media in such a major way for ministry purposes, here I am. This has been due to the Lord and all the material he has downloaded into my spirit over the years and still continues to do, as I spend time in his Word.
I now have a public forum upon which to share the letter, although I could have never dreamed in 2010 or thereabout when I initially wrote it, that this would be the case.
It sometimes makes me wonder what other great exploits God has in store for my life. I feel like in Christ, I am a bundle of limitless potential and there is no telling what God will do with me or how far he will enable me to go, in the future.
I found the letter I had written and the Article attached, in an old suitcase and thought, maybe I wrote it for such a time as this! Then and there, I decided to upload it to one of my Pages and so I did. I have made a few tweaks here and there but this is mainly what I wrote to the Church I attended back then:
Dear fellow saints,
Galatians 5:16-25 urges Christians to walk in the Spirit so that we would not fulfill the lusts of the flesh. It goes on to list in detail, the works of the flesh, which run counter to the fruit of the Spirit. 1 Corinthians 11:26-32 also requires each Christian to engage in a continuous process of self-examination, for, as verse 31 states, “…if we would judge ourselves, we should not be judged.”
In a recent devotion, I meditated on this scripture and in particular, on the works of the flesh that the Lord Jesus Christ wants each Christian to ‘take off’, so that room can be made to facilitate the ‘putting on’ of the fruit of the Spirit.
Galatians 5:16-25 reads:
- “This I say then, Walk in the Spirit, and ye shall not fulfil the lust of the flesh. For the flesh lusteth against the Spirit, and the Spirit against the flesh: and these are contrary the one to the other: so that ye cannot do the things that ye would. But if ye be led of the Spirit, ye are not under the law.
- Now the works of the flesh are manifest, which are these; Adultery, fornication, uncleanness, lasciviousness, idolatry, witchcraft, hatred, variance, emulations, wrath, strife, seditions, heresies, envyings, murders, drunkenness, revellings, and such like: of the which I tell you before, as I have also told you in time past, that they which do such things shall not inherit the kingdom of God.
- But the fruit of the Spirit is love, joy, peace, longsuffering, gentleness, goodness, faith, meekness, temperance: against such there is no law. And they that are Christ’s have crucified the flesh with the affections and lusts. If we live in the Spirit, let us also walk in the Spirit.“
This scripture is one that I have read on countless occasions but there have always been a few terms of which I was never clear as to the specific meaning. On that particular morning of my devotions, I went in search of the scriptural meaning of the terms ‘variance’, ‘emulations’, ‘seditions’ and ‘heresies’ and was led, I believe, by the Holy Spirit to a particular Article, authored by Ferrell Jenkins.
You can google this Article when you are done reading my Note. It is entitled: ‘Variance, Emulations, Wrath, Strife, Seditions, Heresies’ by Ferrell Jenkins and can be found using the following link:
This Article has been a blessing to me, personally, in my process of self-examination. It is in this vein, that I now feel compelled to share it with you, in the hope that you will also be edified and that some collective benefit, to the glory of God’s Kingdom may be derived.
This Article deals strictly with Galatians 5:20. It therefore does not begin to address the many other serious issues plaguing Churches today and promoting strife, discord, variance and dissension, like gossiping and badmouthing.
The participants of same are described synonymously in the Bible as “whisperers”, “backbiters”, “tattlers”, “talebearers” and “busybodies”. These very real issues are addressed at length for our admonition in Matthew 12:36-37, Romans 1:29-32, 1 Timothy 5:13, Proverbs 20:19, Proverbs 21:23, Proverbs 16:13, 24, 27-28 and Proverbs 18:7-8.
These issues are also addressed in Numbers 12 in terms of God’s displeasure with the act of ill-speaking among brethren and the consequences of the individual participant or participants and the collective body of Christ.
Numbers 12 which features Moses, his biological sister Miriam and his biological brother Aaron, reads:
- “And Miriam and Aaron spake against Moses because of the Ethiopian woman whom he had married: for he had married an Ethiopian woman. And they said, Hath the Lord indeed spoken only by Moses? hath he not spoken also by us? And the Lord heard it.
- (Now the man Moses was very meek, above all the men which were upon the face of the earth.) And the Lord spake suddenly unto Moses, and unto Aaron, and unto Miriam, Come out ye three unto the tabernacle of the congregation. And they three came out. And the Lord came down in the pillar of the cloud, and stood in the door of the tabernacle, and called Aaron and Miriam: and they both came forth.
- And he said, Hear now my words: If there be a prophet among you, I the Lord will make myself known unto him in a vision, and will speak unto him in a dream. My servant Moses is not so, who is faithful in all mine house. With him will I speak mouth to mouth, even apparently, and not in dark speeches; and the similitude of the Lord shall he behold: wherefore then were ye not afraid to speak against my servant Moses?
- And the anger of the Lord was kindled against them; and he departed. And the cloud departed from off the tabernacle; and, behold, Miriam became leprous, white as snow: and Aaron looked upon Miriam, and, behold, she was leprous. And Aaron said unto Moses, Alas, my lord, I beseech thee, lay not the sin upon us, wherein we have done foolishly, and wherein we have sinned. Let her not be as one dead, of whom the flesh is half consumed when he cometh out of his mother’s womb.
- And Moses cried unto the Lord, saying, Heal her now, O God, I beseech thee. And the Lord said unto Moses, If her father had but spit in her face, should she not be ashamed seven days? let her be shut out from the camp seven days, and after that let her be received in again.
- And Miriam was shut out from the camp seven days: and the people journeyed not till Miriam was brought in again. And afterward the people removed from Hazeroth, and pitched in the wilderness of Paran.”
It appears that Miriam may have been the instigator of this ill-speaking of Moses with Aaron, given the fact that she was the one that received the punishment of leprosy and not Aaron or maybe Aaron avoided this particular punishment, given that he and his sons were given the responsibility of ministering to God in the priest’s office. I do not know.
All this is speculation but what we are sure of is that they both participated in badmouthing Moses for the decision he made.
It is important to note that verse 15 clearly states that, as a result of the punishment meted out by God to Miriam for her speaking against Moses, the entire congregation was delayed in its journey and could not move forward until she had been brought in again.
This reinforces the fact that, despite the best efforts of the majority, the spiritual progress, journey or effectiveness of the ministry of an entire church congregation, can be impeded and at times halted or frustrated, by the undermining tattle-tale efforts of the minority.
It is worthy to note, that Miriam and Aaron felt justified in speaking against Moses, erroneously believing that the circumstance was of such a nature, that it required or behooved them to say something, if only to voice their disapproval. Yet, it is also worthy to note, that despite their apparently noble motivations (or so they deceived themselves into thinking), the Bible states in verses 9 -10, that God’s anger was kindled or ignited like a flame, against them, resulting in the departure of his presence. When God’s presence left them, what came instead was a curse.
It is clear therefore, that we cannot just say things recklessly to one another about our brothers and sisters in the Lord and not expect God’s judgment in some form or fashion. It is not something that God tolerates but hates, as those within the body of Christ are all his children and therefore are part of his family.
God expects peace and unity in his family and it is clear that in his just estimation, there could be no circumstance that could arise in a Church or among Churches, which could be of such a proportion or magnitude, as to warrant or justify the private ill-speaking of another brother or sister or the idle and mindless babbling of the affairs involving others. This applies whether it be between just two parties or a group of believers. It also applies even where we are convinced and have irrefutable proof that the subject of our chatter is guilty of some wrongdoing. For, God has already laid down specific procedures and outlined the forum, whereby all contention or potentially contentious issues are to be settled, in the spirit of love.
Romans 8:33-34 states boldly:
- “Who shall lay any thing to the charge of God’s elect? It is God that justifieth. Who is he that condemneth? It is Christ that died, yea rather, that is risen again, who is even at the right hand of God, who also maketh intercession for us.”
Ephesians 4:30 clearly states that we ought not to “…grieve…the holy Spirit of God, whereby ye are sealed unto the day of redemption.” Verses 31-32 of Ephesians 4 states further, that we should:
- “Let all bitterness and wrath and anger and clamour and evil speaking be put away from you with all malice: And be ye kind one to another, tenderhearted, forgiving one another, even as God for Christ’s sake hath forgiven you.”
2 Timothy 3:16-17 declares, that “All scripture is given by inspiration of God and is profitable…”, not just for doctrine but also “…for reproof, for correction, for instruction in righteousness: That the man of God may be perfect, thoroughly furnished unto all good works.”
I trust that we will humbly continue to allow the Holy Spirit to do his work, uninhibited in our hearts and minds and that we will remain sensitive to our individual accountability before God.
(Written in 2010 or thereabout)
Dear Reader, here is name of the Article I found online again and the link. I think you will be greatly edified by it, even as I was.
Variance, Emulations, Wrath, Strife, Seditions, Heresies by Ferrell Jenkins