Links Daily Devotional

Unity Barks

…with all humility and gentleness, with patience, bearing with one another in love, eager to maintain the unity of the Spirit in the bond of peace. (Ephesians 4:2-3, NIV)

The golfer’s swing is a living organism; each part has a function and is deeply interrelated with the others. Change the stance and watch the path of the swing change; change the backswing and the downswing changes; change the grip and see revolution throughout!

It is often easy to see someone else’s swing faults, or their wayward alignment, and we are soon tempted to point them out… but not without an internal battle: What will my friend think of me if I tell him about it? What about her confidence? Is this something I should even mention?

I once tried to give my husband a golf lesson. After he enjoyed the first tip, I went on to share nine more things to work on all at once, to his dismay and my frustration. Sometimes we give good unwanted advice, and sometimes just plain bad advice! How are we to know what to say and do? What about when it comes to questions of faith and doctrine?

In local golf fellowships, believers from different Christian backgrounds often gather together to enjoy the game of golf, and also share in fellowship and Bible study. This is good and enriching! But it can also be challenging, because even though we have a family bond in Christ, we do have differing opinions. Jesus Christ is all we need, but what we believe about him and the Scriptures is just like the interrelated parts of our golf swing—our beliefs affect how we respond to adversity, issues of Christian liberty, and even how we think and speak!

So we will inevitably face conflict amongst brothers and sisters, and just like with our friend’s golf game, we are going to wonder whether we should say something, and how to say it. We stand in need of bathing our hearts in the Lord’s mercy and grace in the face of our own sin in considering this, and we need fruits of humility, gentleness, and patience and love to show forth.

A deaf ear is not always the answer. A good dog barks when his master is attacked, and so we too need to bark when the truth of Scripture is being attacked or twisted. Some of us probably need to bark less, as there is nothing less effective and more annoying than a dog who barks at every dust mote. But some us need to start barking, because that is what a faithful and loving dog does when an intruder enters. And some of us desperately need to listen more to other dogs barking around us!

It may seem like foolishness that God would work through us sinful people, but in his wisdom, that is one of the ways he has chosen to refine his Church. Sometimes what we do or say as a means of grace feels more like a means of rebuke, tainted by the plank of pride in our eye. But there is beauty in that even our sin of pride humbles us and reveals our need for mercy. And sometimes not saying anything uncovers a plank of cowardice instead. Conviction of sin rightfully keeps all believers alike at the feet of Jesus, needing his grace.

We so quickly forget that his body, the Church, is a living organism of indwelt treasured people, despite their impurities. We need to trust the Holy Spirit’s power in each believer, who is at work fixing us and others. In this trust we will find patience for each other. Jesus has gripped us, aligned our stance toward God, and our swings are daily being conformed to his image: we can trust him.

Isabelle Beisiegel
September 24, 2014
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