Human life is sometimes easy to figure out and at other times is nothing short of a mystery. There are times when we think we understand ourselves but cannot find a reason for the peculiarities of others. We consider it to be an advantage to be ignorant of ourselves, but we can easily see through the whys and wherefores of others, where they should change for the better, while we give ourselves too much slack for the worse.
Like the Quaker who said to his wife, “Methinks the whole world is queer, except me and thee, but at times I am not even sure about thee!” That substantiates the line of worldly thinking that supposes that men can never understand women, or vice versa, that women can never understand men. The ideal Christian marriage is that husband and wife are being fulfilled to the extent that they are progressively able to understand their spouse over the course of time. Love is nurtured, wherein the understanding of each other is increased, and the undesirables are cast into a mental waste basket and disposed of along with the other mental trash of the week.
In the dynamics of human relationships, the richness of give and take increases the value of being connected as we try to lovingly understand each other. A larger congregation can absorb better the cantankerous ones while a smaller congregation has the same percentage of people who are difficult but scarcely enough ideal people to absorb their peculiarities. Here is a list of what constitutes strong characteristics that are desirable. We might suppose the strengths as being our fortunate lot. It is easy to see only our strengths, while some others, who are “hung up” on us as a person, can only see our weaknesses. As the Bible says, “Why dost thou judge thy brother? Or why dost thou set at naught thy brother? For we shall all stand before the judgment seat of Christ” (Romans 14:10). The Bible calls on the church to address the sins of the members of the church but forbear with each other’s in-house weaknesses. (Oh Lord, help us to do each part with love.) Many church problems can arise when some sins are overlooked, and some weaknesses are overcooked.
Here is my list of twenty strengths and their corresponding weaknesses.
2. Restless/Aggravate, agitate
3. Rise/Put others down
5. Preacher/Never wrong
7. Dad/Always right
12. Early at it/Self-congratulating
16. Expressive/Complain, find fault
17. Collector/Show off
18. Traveler/Stories of self
19. Quiet/Lack of concern
20. Excellent memory/Snoopy
We judge ourselves by what we intended to say and do, whereas we judge others by what we thought we heard them say and by what we thought we saw them do. We are naturally kind to ourselves.
Our human weaknesses will likely be noticed and mentioned by those who have not appreciated us over time. Whereas those who always have thought well of us will think of our strengths when they see us or when our names are mentioned. We scarcely think of ourselves as being stuck in such a humanness of variable judgmentalism. Choosing to love the unlovely and choosing to trust those whom we are not sure about is the way of release for ourselves. There is grace from God whenever we desire to do His will, live as Jesus lived, and think of others more highly than ourselves.
These things of human judgment can be lessened by a growing discipline in Christlikeness and by thinking less of self and more about others. On this context Jesus said, “For if ye love them which love you, what thank have ye? For sinners also love those that love them. Be ye therefore merciful, as your Father also is merciful. Judge not, and ye shall not be judged: condemn not, and ye shall not be condemned: forgive, and ye shall be forgiven” (Luke 6:33, 36, 37). There is also the classic principle given by Jesus, “Therefore all things whatsoever ye would that men should do to you, do ye even so to them: for this is the law and the prophets.” This verse is given in Matthew 7:12, which is easy to remember as we recognize it applies to seven days of the week and twelve months of the year (7x12).
The helpful grace of God teaches us to work on it when our inclinations are toward pride and selfishness, to where our strength can increase toward more favorable Christlikeness and our weaknesses decrease. Our dispositions and native characteristics are seldom completely changed but can be modified by the sanctification of the Spirit.
We are not discouraged by the fact that we cannot be brought to perfection in this life; God has assured us of being perfect in the life to come, in heaven. We are encouraged to know that the teaching by the grace of God is toward being “a peculiar” people, as those who are divinely “His very own, redeemed from sin, and purified unto God,” partially restated from Titus 2:11-14. That text says, “For the grace of God that bringeth salvation hath appeared unto all men, teaching us that, denying ungodliness and worldly lusts, we should live soberly, righteously, and godly in this present world; looking for that blessed hope, and the glorious appearing of the great God and our Savior Jesus Christ; who gave himself for us, that he might redeem us from all iniquity, and purify unto himself a peculiar people, zealous of good works.”
The two words, “teaching” and “soberly” are translated into the word “discipline” in Luther’s German. “Discipline” is a direct link to “disciple,” which involves being taught mentally, along with a conscious mental assent, as in agreeing with Christ, and a mental consent to follow up and do accordingly in life as His disciple.
The Bottom Line is that everyone needs the crisis of saying “no” to Satan and their own fleshly desires, and saying “yes” to Jesus. From there we give consent to follow Jesus as a disciple of His and accept His discipline all through life. Conversion is the personal crisis in a moment of decision for Christ. Christian growth is the day-by-day cleansing from our personal weaknesses, which can be sins, even after we are born again. The grace of God saves us in a moment of a crisis decision, and His grace disciplines us in an intentional denial of self and the acceptance of His way to live in a continuing renewal.