May 27, 2017

The Disposition of a Christian

By Donald Willis         

Paul (Gal. 3:27) affirmed that one is “baptized into Christ” and has therefore “put on Christ.” Galatians 2:20, “I am crucified with Christ: nevertheless I live; yet not I, but Christ liveth in me: and the life which I now live in the flesh I live by the faith of the Son of God, who loved me, and gave himself for me.” Christians have a new life, spiritually born again, children of God, saved from sin! How should one live?

Disposition is defined as “the predominating bent of one’s mind or spirit” (Webster’s New World Dictionary). Bent means “an inclining, tendency” (Webster). With Christ living within, what should be the bent of one’s spirit? What is the bent of Christ’s spirit? Since Christ Jesus lives in us, each Christian should exemplify his attitude.

A Christian is humble. God hates the haughty look (Prov. 6:16-19). Jesus rebuked the pride of the Pharisees (Matt. 25:5-12). Paul cautioned, “. . . through the grace given unto me, to every man that is among you, not to think of himself more highly than he ought to think, but to think soberly, according as God hath dealt to every man the measure of faith” (Rom. 12:3). The lyrics of an old song said, “it’s hard to be humble, when you are perfect in every way.” The taught get-ahead disposition is a strong positive self-assertion. James 4:10, “Humble yourselves in the sight of the Lord, and he shall lift you up.” What more could one say?! Some act as though they are indispensable; as if a thought is not good unless I suggest it! “. . . In lowliness of mind let each esteem other better than themselves” (Phil. 2:3).

A Christian is forgiving. Everyone needs forgiveness, often! All make massive mistakes in thought, intent, and action! Jesus taught us to pray, “Forgive us our debts, as we forgive our debtors” (Matt. 6:12); followed by the caution in Matthew 6:15, “. . .  if ye forgive not men their trespasses, neither will your Father forgive your trespasses.” Frightening, isn’t it! If I cannot forgive, I cannot be forgiven! Note: Colossians 3:13, “Forbearing one another, and forgiving one another, if any man have a quarrel against any: even as Christ forgave you so also do ye” (my emphasis, DW ). Christ lives in me! As Christ forgives, so also must I forgive. “Their sins and iniquities will I remember no more” (Heb. 10:17). That is how God forgives. Sin is cleansed, remitted, forgotten! Recall Jesus (Luke 17:1-5) teaching us to forgive when an individual has sinned against us and asked forgive- ness. Even if one does the same thing seven times in one day, and seven times asks forgiveness, we are to give it! This is difficult! This is why the disciples said, “Lord, increase our faith.” “You remember that he did the same thing last year on two different occasions. I am willing to forgive, but I am going to watch and see if he can be true this time. I just don’t trust him.” What hope does one have with a wrong disposition? Fail to forgive, fail to be forgiven!

A Christian is peaceable. Matthew 5:9, “Blessed are the peacemakers: for they shall be called the children of God.” Romans 14:19, “Let us therefore follow after the things which make for peace, and things wherewith one may edify another.” An old joke, but too often true: “One was asked if they ever wake up grumpy And they reply, no I let him sleep as long as he desires. Is that me, or you? Grumpy, argumentative, disagreeable, frustrating, difficult. A Christian is to be like Jesus Christ. He taught us to be peacemakers. Follow after things that make for peace! One arriving late for a business meeting said, “I do not know what you are discussing, but I am against it!” Another, “There will never be a unanimous decision as long as I am a member here.” Christians often act this way! “If he is for it, I am against it!”“I just cannot get along with George!” How would Christ desire that one act?!

A Christian is grateful. Paul commanded, “. . . be ye thankful” (Col. 3:15). The grateful heart finds it easy to say “thank you.” Ten lepers were cleansed, one returned to thank Jesus. Where were the nine (Luke 17:12-19)? Ten sinners were cleansed, how many returned to thank him? What about Sunday night and Wednesday night? Oh, one does not have to attend all of those services. Grateful? Count your many blessings, see what God has done!

A Christian is tolerant. Jesus cautioned against “mote finding” (Matt. 7:1-5). All have growth difficulties. Some are looking to find fault. One can develop eyestrain at- tempting to find faults in others. The worse fault is the inability to see my own mistakes! One said, “I can see the mistakes of others better than of myself.” Another said, “I could see my own mistakes . . . if I had any!” Please read 1 John 1:8, 10; Romans 3:10, 23. Some trusted in themselves that they were righteous, and despised others (Luke 18:9ff ). Lord, look how much wonderful work I do: I attend all the services, I give more than others, I teach a class at the building, I even brought one of my neighbors to services. The other humbly requested, “God, be merciful to me, a sinner!” You remember which one God heard! How did Paul suggest handling a Jewish adherent? one without law? a weak individual? Read 1

Corinthians 9:20-22. If we show no tolerance (you complete the thought) . . .

A Christian is easily entreated. James 3:17, “But the wisdom that is from above is first pure, then peaceable, gentle, and easy to be entreated, full of mercy and good fruits, without partiality, and without hypocrisy.” Other translations: open to reason (RSV ), conciliatory (Moffit), easily persuaded (Alford), ready to be convinced (Good- speed), easily obeying (Thayer). My translation would say not stubborn or self-willed! Elders (Titus 1:7) must not be self-willed! Listen to one another! Be easy to reach when one is anxious to discuss a matter with us. Do not be a “know it all.”

A Christian is courageous. It takes much courage to be a Christian. Paul was in prison, about to die. He wrote to Timothy to encourage him. Do not permit what is happening to Paul discourage Christians. 2 Timothy 4:6-8, “For I am now ready to be offered, and the time of my departure is at hand. I have fought a good fight, I have finished my course, I have kept the faith: Henceforth there is laid up for me a crown of righteousness, which the Lord, the righteous judge, shall give me at that day: and not to me only, but unto all them also that love his appearing.” The foe will ever attempt to find us on a bad day. “Wherefore take unto you the whole armour of God, that ye may be able to withstand in the evil day, and having done all, to stand. Stand therefore. . .” (Eph. 6:13- 14). One cannot stand for something without standing against something else!

Galatians 2:20: “I am crucified with Christ: nevertheless I live; yet not I, but Christ liveth in me: and the life which I now live in the flesh I live by the faith of the Son of God, who loved me, and gave himself for me.” These

are characteristics demanded what he demands that we be!

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