Whom do you serve? Whom do you truly follow?
Remember how Paul warned the Corinthians against divisions. He called them to unity, reminding them of the gospel by which they were saved (1 Corinthians 1:10-17, and following). You understand this concept. Yet I know you. You fear displeasing others more than you fear displeasing Christ. You fear identification with the wrong group or the wrong leader, forgetting that your calling is not to a Paul or to an Apollos but to Christ himself. You avoid discussing difficult subjects because you are afraid of being labeled with the outcasts, of being judged with the zealots, or of being associated with the wrong movements. You appear to fear men and women more than you fear God. Reevaluate your allegiance. Remember the heart of your faith. Remember your first love (Revelation 2:4-5).
Recognize that your silence, though often stemming from fear, does not signify indifference. I know you hold convictions. I know you feel strongly about truth and doctrine. This is good. I can recall many times when you spoke your mind and heart with passion. However, you’ve often spoken too quickly, rushing into discussions to argue your positions, to shoot down opposing points, or to make yourself appear wise. Remember that silence often is best (James 1:19; 3). Don’t be too quick to point fingers or to assert your thoughts on a matter. You are not as wise or as knowledgeable as you think yourself to be. Be very slow to speak, and be even slower to judge. There are of course times to break silence. Don’t misunderstand this reminder: this is not a call to endorse injustice or to embrace apathy; this is a call to gain perspective. You are always more in need than you realize and less wise than you know. Tread carefully, examining well your own heart and motives before you speak a word.
Remember Paul’s words to Timothy: “Have nothing to do with foolish, ignorant controversies; you know that they breed quarrels” (2 Timothy 2:23). Again, although some matters demand a response, many do not, so don’t feel obligated to be knowledgeable in or to respond to every new controversy. Consider the matter thoroughly before you open your mouth, discerning whether or not your input will glorify the Lord and serve the body. If not, keep your mouth shut and don’t waste your time. Save your voice for matters of primary importance, remembering that many disagreements concern questions of secondary importance and deal more with personal convictions than with core truths. Practice humility, laying down your rights to serve your weaker brothers and sisters (Philippians 2:1-11; Romans 14). And consider how often you are the weaker brother, avoiding the arrogant trap of assuming yourself to always be strong. In all things, walk worthily of your calling, working for the unity and the building up of the body toward maturity in the love of Christ (Ephesians 4:1-16).
Recognize that you are far too easily distracted. Keep focused in faith, remembering that God will provide. “But seek first the kingdom of God and his righteousness,” as Jesus has commanded, and leave the rest to the Lord (Matthew 6:33, in the context of 25-34). He knows your needs better than you know them, and he has proven himself willing and able to provide by meeting your greatest need in Christ (Romans 8:32). Furthermore, because he is the source of every good and perfect gift (James 1:16-18), you need not look anywhere else for fulfillment. So fix your eyes on things above (Colossians 3:1-17). Run the race well after the example of your savior (Hebrews 12:1-2). Seek to utilize the gifts God has given you within the body of Christ (1 Corinthians 12).
Rest. I know you are tired. I know you feel weighed down by the responsibilities of life. I know you have unmet desires and unfulfilled hopes. Take heart. Fear the Lord. Remember the mission (Matthew 28:18-20). Remember your place within the kingdom (1 Corinthians 12). Learn to walk as Jesus walked (1 John 2:6). May God be glorified in all you do, and may he increase as you decrease (John 3:30).
Huge thanks to Maci Duncan for her editing suggestions. This post is immensely better than it originally was because of her help.