A Game of Cat and Mouth
Females have a reputation for not getting along with one another, being associated with interpersonal "drama." Recently, in a piece describing ways to destroy a church, many of the destructive behaviors and actions - finding fault or being critical of others and harboring hostile feelings - were attributed to women. I love the lyrics to DC Talk's What if I Stumble, "The greatest single cause of atheism in the world today is Christians who acknowledge Jesus with their lips then walk out the door and deny Him by their lifestyle. That is what an unbelieving world simply finds unbelievable."
While there is no shortage of "Christian" women in America, many "Christians" apply their own definition of Christianity, definitions that are often antithetical to Truth and do not include a complete, repentant surrender of our hearts to the Prince who was sacrificed for us.
Now, at a time when the association between faith and lifestyle is often tenuous, is a good time for women to evaluate how we treat others.
Matthew 5:9 - Blessed are the peacemakers, for they shall be called children of God.
Sooner or later, women will have to deal with "drama" within their circles. Will you try to bring peace to the situation or just wash your hands of the drama? Will you be the one sowing the discord? If you're on the receiving end, will you strive for peace or add to the conflict?
Proverbs 12:18 - Reckless words pierce like a sword, but the tongue of the wise brings healing.
Women tend to lean on each other, and we are called to be accountable to one another as followers in Christ. Will you go out of your way to bring healing to someone who is hurting, or ignore them because you have to deal with "more important" matters? When you hear gossip, will you repeat it, even when you know you shouldn't? Will you work at bridling your tongue? Can you imagine what would happen if we all learned to speak only positive affirmations of one another?
Matthew 7:1-2 - Judge not, or you too will be judged. For the same way you judge others, you will be judged, and with the measure you use, it will be measured to you.
Women are criticized for being judgmental about other women's hair, makeup, shoes, clothing, how they speak, and countless other traits or attributes. The worst part about this criticism is that women are maligned if they don't measure up as well as if they are deemed to be too "perfect." Seems too good? Bring her down. Not good enough? Shun her. When these critical thoughts enter your mind, will you put an immediate stop to them, or will you allow harsh judgments to take root and give voice to the criticisms?
John 7:24 - Judge not according to the appearance, but judge righteous judgment.
The command to judge with "righteous judgment" seems contradictory, but there are two sides of the judgment coin. We are told to not judge on appearance. That commandment is like the well-known quote by Martin Luther King, Jr., "I look to a day when people will not be judged by the color of their skin, but by the content of their character." In other words, we are not to judge others on appearance, but on character. Ironically, today we have switched the command so that we talk readily about someone's appearance, but we avoid speaking out on hot-button issues. Yet, the Bible is clear: when we avoid calling evil, evil, we offend God. Being lukewarm isn't an option. We are either for God or against Him. We cannot believe God is holy and just, then encourage or become complacent regarding sin. Too often, we are afraid to speak out against sin. Is it better to affirm sin or to speak the Truth in love?
Proverbs 20:19 - Whoever goes about slandering reveals secrets; therefore do not associate with a simple babbler.
We have all come into contact with persons who know everything about everyone - at least there are plenty of people who act like they do. In order to fit in, we listen, participate, or remain silent. But, we know that if someone gossips to you, they will gossip about you. Therefore, our best approach is to explain in love that we are not willing to participate in gossip. If someone continues to speak badly of others in our presence, we can be sure our lives are the subject of gossip in other circumstances, as well.
Romans 2:3 - Do you suppose, oh man - you who judge those who practice such things and yet do them yourself - that you will escape the judgment of God?
The Bible has a lot to say about being a hypocrite - people who are quick to tell others what they are doing wrong and then behave just like the one whom they criticized. Do you condemn others or put them down to make yourself appear superior? Are you holding others to a standard you don't set for yourself? We all do wrong and are called to be accountable to one another. We stumble and make mistakes, and when someone is doing something wrong we are to tell them - in love - as they should to us. But neither self-righteousness nor hypocrisy is Christ-like -especially when we're less than perfect ourselves.
John 13:34-35 - A new command I give you: Love one another. As I have loved you, so you must love one another. By this everyone will know that you are my disciples, if you love one another.
We are to love the Lord with all our heart, soul, strength, and mind. This is the second greatest commandment. If we, as women, simply loved everyone with Christ-like love, what would our world look like? Can you imagine non-believers looking at us and saying, "Wow, what's different about them?" They would want to know us and, therefore, know God by how we treat others. If we continue to treat our fellow Christians poorly, why would anyone who doesn't know God want anything to do with us? Maybe that's why church attendance has plummeted.
The Christian standard is high. We claim to be saved by grace through faith but don't live it out as completely as we should. We are to be known by our fruits. We are free from the bondage of sin. We are imperfect and will stumble. We will say things we know we shouldn't. We'll catch ourselves judging others on their choice of outfits and listen actively to words we would never want said about us or our families. It will take work, but we can only take one step at a time. Don't be the reason others walk away from the Gospel of Jesus Christ. Instead, in this tumultuous time, let us all strive to be like Christ.
But be transformed by the renewing of your mind.
Then you will be able to test and approve what God's will is -
His good, pleasing and perfect will.
Breanna Haupt is a graduate of Youngstown State University and is currently a Ronald Reagan Memorial Intern for Concerned Women for America's Beverly LaHaye Institute.
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