September 24, 2007

No doctor prescribes criticism

I’ve a big toe that aches when the humidity rises and the temperature drops. Sometimes I talk about it as if it were not part of my body but something that has invaded me. “That dratted toe is giving me trouble again,” or “It must be going to rain because that stupid toe is hurting.”

Romans 12:5 says, “So we, being many, are one body in Christ, and individually members of one another.”

When I read it, I thought of the times I’ve talked about another Christian in the same way I’ve talked about my toe. I’ve complained about them as if they are an alien or an enemy instead of part of Christ’s body, and, according to this verse, part of my own self.

I’m trying to wrap my mind around that. When another Christian is suffering, I know that I suffer too; the Bible says it and I feel it. I can also rejoice when they rejoice, but what about when they are floundering? This verse suggests that I will feel something then as well, because we are “members of one another.”

God always uses pain to let us know something is wrong. In this case, the pain I feel is a result of another Christian doing things contrary to the faith. I am not above that myself so can identify with their problem, but instead of empathizing or being helpful to right the wrong, I respond by criticism. Not good.

When I feel something in the Body is out of joint, I should be of offering help and comfort, not reacting the same way as I do to that big toe—forgetting that it is my toe and becoming ridiculously critical.

The lesson from this analogy is ridiculously simple. Being critical doesn’t do a thing for an aching toe, nor does it do a thing for a straying Christian. If I want my toe to behave, I offer it some medication, or warm it up, or give it a little twist, depending on the particular needs of that toe on that day. Yakking at it or about it does nothing.

God put me in the Body of Christ so that I can do my part, just as others are to do their part. If someone (me included) goes lame, aches, functions at less than their best, or just refuses to do anything, that part needs help, healing and encouragement. Filing a complaint doesn’t do it.

I can help by letting that person know I care (and I do, or I wouldn’t be responding to their ailment). I could come alongside with a word of encouragement, or take them to the Great Physician in prayer. I could put my arm around them to warm them up, or offer a helping hand if that would be appropriate.

My toe hurts this morning. Instead of being annoyed with it, I’m going to let it remind me that my doctoring methods in the Body of Christ are sometimes very senseless, even harmful. This toe can remind me to be more considerate when other Christians have painful problems. Instead of complaining about them when I sense what their ailment is doing to the Body, I’m going to let that ache be a signal to stop yakking and start looking for a way to bring healing.

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