Religious Bullies

Larry was small growing up, but his older brother, Ron, towered above his peers. Larry didn’t fear bullies because he knew Ron was feared by any potential tormentor.

Did you know that you have a fearsome big brother who protects you? I shudder for those who pick on God’s kids because God has promised to settle the score (Genesis 12:3; Romans 12:19).

We have a friend who worked for a large department store chain. He was bullied out of his executive position. Because of losing his job he acquired a small variety store on the boardwalk of a historic beach town. Today his store is flourishing and the department store that wronged him is history.

What if your persecutors are in the church? Galatians 4:29 warns about religious bullies. “The son born according to the flesh persecuted the son born by the power of the Spirit. It is the same now.”

Two broken hearts shared how their different assemblies are in turmoil. In one church, governing elders have stirred up the congregation against a pastor, and in the other the pastor has started a campaign against certain members and leaders. The whole body suffers when a few bullies stir up strife and violate the Scripture’s admonition to care for one another (1 Corinthians 12:25).

Sometimes our defender seems slow in responding. In some areas we won’t recognize how He protected us until heaven (Hebrews 11:39). How are we to live in the meantime?

  • Live by the Spirit who supplies “love, joy, peace, forbearance, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness and self-control”—even in difficult times (Galatians 5:22-23).
  • Practice godly wisdom. “Who is wise and understanding among you? Let them show it by their good life, by deeds done in the humility that comes from wisdom. But if you harbor bitter envy and selfish ambition in your hearts, do not boast about it or deny the truth. Such “wisdom” does not come down from heaven but is earthly, unspiritual, demonic. For where you have envy and selfish ambition, there you find disorder and every evil practice. But the wisdom that comes from heaven is first of all pure; then peace-loving, considerate, submissive, full of mercy and good fruit, impartial and sincere. Peacemakers who sow in peace reap a harvest of  righteousness” (James 3:13-18).
  • Deal with your anger ( Ephesians 4:26).
  • Tell the truth in love (Ephesians 4:15, 25; 5:11).
  • Defend the innocent in the power of the Spirit (Proverbs 31:9; Galatians 5:16).

If you are accused of contributing to the problem for humbly speaking up, remember Paul’s words, “No doubt there have to be differences among you to show which of you have God’s approval” (1 Corinthians 11:19). If you are persecuted for standing for righteousness and truth, “Rejoice, great is your reward in heaven” (Matthew 5:10). The disciples practiced Jesus’ words by shaking the dust off their feet and “being continually filled with joy and with the Holy Spirit” (Acts 13:51-52). Bullies could not rob their joy!

Take heart. Your heavenly Father sees and has promised to take care of you—and them.

Blessings,

Ladies, click here to learn more about our fall Bible Study, Your Invitation to Rest.

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All scripture quotations, unless otherwise indicated, are taken from the Holy Bible, New International Version®, NIV®. Copyright ©1973, 1978, 1984 by Biblica, Inc.™   Used by permission of Zondervan. All rights reserved worldwide.

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