By Rodney W. Francis
We live in a rapidly changing world. This is especially challenging to Holy Spirit-filled Christians who seek to please the Lord from day-to-day. Even in Christian circles there have been major changes in the way things are done, church services are run, etc. For those who have been Christians for 40 years or more, it seems that the current generation of Christians have a very different conviction of what is right or what is wrong for Christians. Then there is the criticism and opposition that those who are doing the will of God get from other Christians. All these things test our re-actions. As Christians we discover that it is not always easy to “turn the other cheek.”
People are responsible before God for the decisions they make in their lives ~ we are responsible before God as to the way we re-act to their decisions; especially those decisions we do not agree with. As I was thinking about these things one day, I felt the Lord speak to me and say, “Rodney, you have to watch your re-actions. You need to be careful that your re-actions to others are not as bad as what you perceive they have done, or are doing.” That really challenged me, and caused me to re-consider a lot of my re-actions that I felt toward some people that I believed were not living right. Those words have helped me to have a much better attitude toward those people.
There is a principle that “we reap what we sow” (Galatians 6:7-10). That principle applies to every person, whether Christian or non-Christian. In the Book of Esther we have the story of a man called Haman who re-acted against Mordecai, a righteous and God-fearing man. Instead of dealing with his problem Haman allowed it to fester in his heart day after day; to the point where he wanted to get rid of Mordecai. When his family suggested to him to build a gallows and get Mordecai hanged on it, Haman quickly built the gallows and then plotted how to get Mordecai killed by that means. What Haman did not know was that God was keeping watch on those proceedings, and God was working to protect Mordecai from Haman’s sinister desire. The whole plot back-fired on Haman and he finished up being the person who was hanged on his own gallows (Esther 7:10). He reaped what he sowed! And Mordecai was promoted to high honour in the land!
TRUE CHRISTIANITY IS NOT UNDERSTOOD BY THE WORLD
We need to be aware of the truth that “the natural man does not receive the things of the Spirit of God, for they are foolishness to him, nor can he know them, because they are spiritually discerned (“to examine carefully”). But he who is spiritual judges all things, yet he himself is rightly judged by no one” (1 Corinthians 2:14-15 - please take time to read the whole Chapter). Because those who have not been born-again by the Holy Spirit do not know or comprehend the things of the Holy Spirit, they automatically form judgments and criticisms based on what they think they know, and therefore it is easy for them to speak negatively and evil against us. At those times we need to be very careful about how we re-act to what they say and do against us. The Book of Proverbs contains a lot of wise sayings and counsels for us. Here is just one: “Whoever guards his mouth and tongue keeps his soul from troubles” (Proverbs 21:23). It is so easy to try and justify ourselves on such occasions of being criticized, etc. We need to learn quickly to take those happenings to the Lord and commit them to Him, so He can use them to help us to rise up in more victory than to get hurt and irritated by the negative words of others, and finish up downcast and discouraged..
THE TRAGIC RE-ACTIONS OF ABSALOM TOWARDS AMNON AND TAMAR
In 2 Samuel Chapter 13 we read of the tragic happenings of Amnon, who through his lusting after his sister Tamar, listened to the devilish advice of his friend and set-up a situation whereby Amnon could rape his sister Tamar. Foolish Amnon listened to that advice and ‘played sick’ so that his sister would come and minister to him through her cooking abilities. When she ~ in total ignorance of the plot ~ cooked some cakes for Amnon and took them into him, he grabbed her and raped her. When Tamar’s brother Absalom heard about what had happened, his re-action was to pay Amnon back by scheming to kill him. For two years he festered in his re-action of what Amnon had done and was looking for a way whereby he could take revenge on him. Over that time his anger against Amnon grew and grew (2 Samuel 13:22), until he found an opportunity to set-up Amnon and his (Absalom’s) servants killed him. What Amnon had done to Tamar was indeed a very evil act, but Absalom’s re-action became even worse, and did not justify the way that Absalom behaved toward Amnon. We see that Absalom’s re-action to Amnon took control of Absalom’s actions and life ~ so much so that his thoughts and anger became actions two years later. His negative re-actions brought havoc and he became a murderer.
With regards Absalom’s re-action toward the innocent victim of that rape ~ his sister Tamar ~ he took her into her home, where she actually became a recluse ~ it seems she was treated as though she was a guilty, consenting party as well? She remained “desolate” (“to stun, numb, stupefy – render lethargic in a passive sense – make destitute, waste, ruined, made a recluse”) in Absalom’s house (2 Samuel 13:20). It seems that later Absalom had more children and a daughter he named Tamar (2 Samuel 14:27). That meant that every time the name Tamar came up, Absalom would think of his daughter and not his sister. He had a positive love for his daughter Tamar, but for his sister Tamar he had a negative re-action and attitude. Yet she lived inside his very house! How sad it was for Tamar to live after her being raped by another brother! Absalom later met with a cruel death (2 Samuel 18:9-14).
We see from this account that it shows us how wrong re-actions can take over our life and cause us to say and do things that we will live to regret. The Scripture warns us: “Do not be deceived, God is not mocked; for whatever a man sows, that he will also reap” (Galatians 6:7).
GUARD YOUR RE-ACTIONS!
We do not have to agree with the actions and words of what other people do or say, especially other Christians. There are all kinds of negative things going on within what we call “Christian circles”. Let us make very sure that we do not have re-actions that make our attitude and responses to those negative things cause us to become deceived by thinking we are right and they are wrong, etc. Jesus spoke these words for us: “Beware of false prophets (people who are not speaking or living the Truth), who come to you in sheep’s clothing, but inwardly they are ravenous wolves. You will know them by their fruits. Do men gather grapes from thorn bushes or figs from thistles? Even so, every good tree bears good fruit, but a bad tree bears bad fruit. A good tree cannot bear bad fruit, nor can a bad tree bear good fruit. Every tree that does not bear good fruit is cut down and thrown into the fire. Therefore by their fruits you will know them. Not everyone who says to Me, ‘Lord, Lord’ shall enter the kingdom of heaven, but he who does the will of My Father in heaven. Many will say to Me in that day, ‘Lord, Lord, have we not prophesied in Your name, cast out demons in Your name, and done many wonders in Your name?’ And then I will declare to them, ‘I never knew you; depart from Me, you who practice lawlessness’” (Please take time to read the whole chapter of Matthew 7).
- How important it is that we Christians are living in right relationship with Jesus Christ, listening to His voice, and having a commitment to doing whatever He asks of us.
- That way ~ and that way only ~ we will bring forth good fruit.
- Trying to live the Christian life by what we think is right and best is not sufficient.
- It is not about head-knowledge, but revelation knowledge by the Holy Spirit dwelling in us.
- Make very sure that our relationship with Jesus is personal and real.
Do not let re-actions rob us of a wonderful and personal relationship with Jesus. If you are conscious of having some bad re-actions towards others, then please make sure you get it put right. If you need to apologize to someone and ask their forgiveness because of your attitude and re-action toward some-thing they have said or done, be big enough to do that. It will release something within your own spirit so you can know the freedom and peace of God in a much more powerful way. God bless you!