Sunday, July 15, 2007

What we see in others

"Wherefore henceforth know we no man after the flesh. . . .if any man be in Christ, he is a new creature; old things are passed away; behold, all things are become new." The believer has been changed by God who now sees Christ in us, a sweet smelling savor. There has been major heart surgery, actually a transplant, and an exchange has been made: His righteousness for our sins. We have been given a new identity. We have been made ambassadors with the ministry of reconciliation, and again, amazingly given the righteousness of Christ himself. (II Corinthians 5)

With these things in mind, we are told to henceforth know no one after the flesh. The critical argumentative nature has been dealt with at the cross. Why do we take up our old dead attitudes towards each other? These things ought not so to be, as James says. We frequently behave as though nothing has changed. What an insult to the One who brought about our conversion from those old ways!

I was struck by that phrase in verse 16 of chapter 5 of II Corinthians. Our dealings with each other as believers have a new dimension, new thought patterns, and a new way of speaking. Hasty cruel degrading speech is replaced with patience, long suffering, understanding, compassion, forgiveness, and in general giving each other a break. Instead of being quick to think and say the worst of someone, God gives us the ability to see the best and to edify. Anyone can tear down. We have all been trained well at that.

Rare it is that turbulant situations are met with calm, peaceable wisdom. That is what God does. That is the response that only He can cause to become perfectly natural and normal. The cross is his perfect remedy for our needy speech condition. "Set a watch, O Lord, before my mouth; keep the door of my lips." Ps. 141.3

It is not a short-lived determination to avoid speaking ill, but a reminder that the old man who complains and criticizes has been dealt a death blow. That is no longer us! The "real us" has been changed. When we see in ourselves the work of Christ in transforming our behavior, we can then see the same amazing work in others.

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