How much do we truly identify with our new nature as Christians vs the natural conditions we face on this Earth? Jesus said we would face trials and tribulations. There’s no getting around them, but do we identify with them more than we identify with who we are in Christ? Do we allow them to be our excuse or our cop-out for bad behavior when we should use restraint or allow the Holy Spirit to guide us into better behavior?
John 16:33 “I have told you all this so that you may have peace in me. Here on earth you will have many trials and sorrows. But take heart, because I have overcome the world.”
Matthew 5:47-48 If you are kind only to your friends, how are you different from anyone else? Even pagans do that. But you are to be perfect, even as your Father in heaven is perfect.
Jesus is our best example of how to treat others, think of him when he was being beaten and scourged, he didn’t lash out. Not that we should take illness as our lot, we shouldn’t, because he paid the price for us, but while we are enduring, we should remain humble. He is our refuge and healer.
I know Christians who face serious illnesses with Grace and mercy. If you were to meet them for the first time, you would never know how ill they are. I’ve even known friends who were dying of cancer and never uttered a word to others about their condition, except when they were in horrific pain. Otherwise, they kept a cheerful attitude facing the world with dignity and never complained. Then I’ve known others who cry over the smallest paper cut as if they needed great attention and care, leading others to think they were the ones dying with their dramatization. And some who scream or are short fused with their family when they feel the slightest twinges of problems, or scream at them when they did nothing wrong. Who in these instances are allowing the light of godliness to shine through?
2 Peter 1:5-9 In view of all this, make every effort to respond to God’s promises. Supplement your faith with a generous provision of moral excellence, and moral excellence with knowledge, and knowledge with self-control, and self-control with patient endurance, and patient endurance with godliness, and godliness with brotherly affection, and brotherly affection with love for everyone. The more you grow like this, the more productive and useful you will be in your knowledge of our Lord Jesus Christ. But those who fail to develop in this way are shortsighted or blind, forgetting that they have been cleansed from their old sins.
I’m not saying we should hide our feelings, but we shouldn’t use our conditions for ill behavior. For instance, if you’ve had a bad day at work or driving home in traffic, do you take it out on your family when you get home? That isn’t godliness. It’s allowing your circumstances to control your outlook and ruin other people’s days, when they weren’t the cause of your situation. If you feel ill, should you snap at those around you? Should you bark orders and expect others to wait on you hand and foot? No, and they shouldn’t feel obligated to do so either. They may feel sorry for your condition, but it isn’t their fault that you have the medical or emotional condition you have. I’ve known families that cater to one person with an illness because they play a guilt trip on others for their lot in life, making everyone in the family wait on them hand and foot. By the same token, I’ve known family members who ignore family members who seem to have one illness or problem after another. Neither attitude is right. There should be a balance; a give and take. The one who seems to keep having medical issues certainly never asked for them and needs understanding and compassion. They need acknowledgement from their family, not a ‘sweep it under the rug’ as if it doesn’t exist. Certainly, we have a hope that any illness or calamity will be healed by the blood of Jesus, but in the meantime, show them you care without making their condition a reason for them to act out. Obviously, some conditions may limit them from physical abilities they’ve had before, but it shouldn’t limit the one suffering the ability to show kindness, mercy, and grace. In fact, if anything, it should do the opposite and make them more compassionate and tenderhearted towards others. Sadly, that isn’t always the case and many lash out in anger.
James 1:26 If you claim to be religious but don’t control your tongue, you are fooling yourself, and your religion is worthless.
When I see this in Christian brothers and sisters I want to say, “Get over yourself! Who is your source?! What are you drawing on? What makes you entitled to special favors and treating others poorly?!” I’m not saying I’ve never been grouchy when I feel ill, I have and normally I catch it and apologize quickly to anyone I’ve said any harsh words to, but I don’t live there. I’m talking about people who live in that state and wear it like a badge. You are not defined by whatever “fill in the blank” condition you have, you are defined by God and who he created you to be! You are his righteousness and his holy ones, act like it and treat others how you want to be treated. You are not this disease, this condition, this illness, this whatever. You were created in the image of God…. Think about that… Created in the Image of God…
Ultimately, if we are Christians, we will grow and have the fruit of the Spirit, which does not burden others or put upon them or put forth angry words or speak harshly. What are the fruits of the Spirit?
Galatians 5:22 But the Holy Spirit produces this kind of fruit in our lives: love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness.