A few years ago I attended a pastors conference in California. I was scheduled to share on missions along with a few other speakers from across the United States. To be honest, I didn't like one of the other plenary speakers at this missions conference. This man had written some articles that I thought were really destructive to the work of God.
As I remembered the things he wrote, I began to get very upset over the whole situation. I couldn't believe he was invited to the conference to speak on missions. As I started to speak before the assembly full of people, I made an unkind, unloving comment about him. I considered myself justified in what I said because I thought the damage he did to the kingdom's work was great.
Directly from this missions conference, I flew to India. While I was there, the Lord began to speak to my heart and show me how I had spoken wrongly. As soon as I came back to the GFA office in the United States, I knew what I needed to do. I had to call and ask forgiveness from the man who invited me to speak at that conference. But what I said was not just a private thing—it was public, involving many people. So when I called him, I said, "Would you please do me a favor? Next time you write to all of the pastors who attended that conference, would you please tell them I ask their forgiveness for having made that statement? It was not in the spirit of love or the spirit of Christ that I spoke it, and I am sorry."
Pride vs Humility
Do you think this was easy for me to do? Not at all! Each one of us has our pride, our knowledge and our own way we think is right. But what we know will never justify us saying anything rude or unkind.
Remember the famous chapter in 1 Corinthians that says, "Though I speak with the tongues of men and of angels, but have not love, I have become sounding brass or a clanging cymbal. And though I have the gift of prophecy, and understand all mysteries and all knowledge, and though I have all faith, so that I could remove mountains, but have not love, I am nothing. And though I bestow all my goods to feed the poor, and though I give my body to be burned, but have not love, it profits me nothing" (1 Corinthians 13:1–3).
The beauty of this whole incident is that when I humbled myself and sought forgiveness, this man whom I had spoken against responded back to me. He had received the letter that was sent to all who attended the conference and read of my asking forgiveness. He called me and thanked me for my humility, saying, "Brother K.P., no wonder God is using you so much. No wonder God's grace is upon your life." And I said, "Thank you for saying that to me." God knows how hard it was for me to humble myself and ask for forgiveness. But He is faithful to give us the grace and strength to submit to others and admit when we are wrong.
God's Kind of Patience and Love
But this doesn't mean we must always say "yes, yes" to everything. Maybe we know that someone's actions or beliefs are wrong or the way we've been treated is not right. We don't just pretend these things are okay for the sake of keeping the peace. Instead, what we need to do is commit these situations to God and let it go into His hands, praying for our brother or sister, asking God to give us wisdom and to work things out His way. William Barclay once said, "In our dealings with men, however unkind and hurting they are, we must exercise the same patience as God exercises with us. It is simple truth that such patience is not the sign of weakness but the sign of strength; it is not defeatism, but rather the only way to victory."
In 1 Corinthians 5, Paul describes a situation of a man living in blatant, unconfessed sin. It took great love for Paul to put this man out of the church. Maybe it sounds horrible and unkind, but Paul did it with a firm, tough love. And look at the result. In 2 Corinthians 2, that man was restored to fellowship again. This kind of love—God's kind of love—always brings unity to the Body of Christ. It is a tough yet humble love that gives in but doesn't give up.
If we really desire to be like Jesus and to walk in love and power as He did, we must humble ourselves.
Dr. K.P. Yohannan
Founder & Director of Gospel for Asia
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About 5 Minutes with K.P.
5 minutes with K.P. is a short devotional that first appeared in our ministry magazine, GFA World and is written by Gospel for Asia's Founder and Director, Dr. K.P. Yohannan.