• Janette Johnson Melson

“A Brother Offended is Harder to be Won than a Strong City"

Updated: Sep 26, 2021


On the way to and from our writers’ retreat in July, I had the privilege to share a car with our vice-president, Terri Gillespie (www.authorterrigillespie.com). I am awed by her ability to be so prolific in her writing. She has published three books and is working on her fourth one, has a YouTube channel where she reviews books and interviews their authors (https://www.youtube.com/channel/UC2iMKu7zt6wB4vmPKqsM7EA), and publishes a daily—yes, a daily devotional (https://authorterrigillespie.com/category/daily-word/). When I questioned how she has time for all that, particularly the daily devotionals, she said that she writes her daily devotionals during her morning time with God. It’s one way she is able to listen to His still small voice. She selects a random Bible verse as a prompt and then writes whatever comes to mind.


Thinking this was a great idea, I gave it a try. I found a random Bible verse generator, set a timer for five minutes, and wrote. I figured there were all kinds of benefits to this: digging deeper in the Word of God; getting close to the Author of those words; strengthening my own author muscles to ward against writer’s block; allowing Him to speak through me, if He so chooses; and creating possible blogs for the future. Well, what you are about to read is the result of that very first prompt. I have been struggling with this issue for quite some time now and have started to write on it before but haven’t had the courage. But when my second, random-generated writing turned out to be about the same topic, I took that as a sign that maybe I should just do it. So here goes.


“A brother offended is harder to be won than a strong city; and their contentions are like the bars of a castle.” – Proverbs 18:19


In this day and age of such political animosity between Christian brothers and sisters, this proverb rings true! And how easy it is for some to be offended. Simply admitting that you voted for a particular person for president is enough of an “offense” that you feel you will never recover. And you can try to explain your reasons for voting a particular way, but they don’t want to hear it. Their contentions are truly like the bars of a castle—nothing is getting through—not reason, not empathy, not grace. And that’s where I feel so defeated as a Christian. We, above all others, should show grace to each other. We are supposed to love each other. Heck, we’re supposed to love our enemies (Matthew 5:44). So even if we consider our fellow Christians to somehow be our enemies because of their politics, we should still love them!


I am what I call politically savvy, in that I don’t go around in a fog having no idea what is going on. I definitely have a side which I am on, but my politics don’t define me. Here are some of the things which define me: Christian, woman, daughter, sister, wife, mother, grandma, friend, author, teacher. The list could go on, but I won’t bore you with it.


What I see now is a troubling trend in our Christian fellowship—namely a lack of fellowship. According to Oxford Languages online, the definition of fellowship is “friendly association, especially with people who share one's interests.” That sounds lovely and something which we Christians should excel at. But we don’t. There have been many things throughout history which have divided Christians, but I think one of the ugliest is politics. According to the same online source, the definition for politics is “the activities associated with the governance of a country or other area, especially the debate or conflict among individuals or parties having or hoping to achieve power.”


I honestly don’t care what your political affiliation is. And yet, there are many who show hate towards those with differing views and tell them they are less-than Christians because of it. I do tend to spend more time with people who basically agree with me with regard to religion and politics. I think most of us do—that whole “birds of a feather flock together” syndrome. (Or maybe it’s just me because I am a conflict-avoider.) But I do have close friends and family who are of different denominations, are agnostic, are even atheists or are on the other side of the political aisle, whom I love and enjoy spending time with. How is that possible? Because, even though we disagree, we love each other and respect each other.


So how is it that those of us within the Christian community can’t do the same? What binds us together (our worship of Jesus Christ and all that that entails) is so much more important than what tries to divide us.


I just wish that we could use the following Biblical principle in our dealings with each other as Christians. Romans 14:1-3 says, Accept the one whose faith is weak, without quarreling over disputable matters. 2 One person’s faith allows them to eat anything, but another, whose faith is weak, eats only vegetables. 3 The one who eats everything must not treat with contempt the one who does not, and the one who does not eat everything must not judge the one who does, for God has accepted them.” Here, Paul is talking specifically about disagreements over what foods a Christian can eat. But I believe that we can fill in the blank with any sin we want and follow the same principle. If we believe that we are the brother/sister whose faith is strong (Come on, how many of us actually believe that we’re the brother whose faith is weak?), then according to God’s Word, we “must not treat with contempt the one” whose faith is weak. And if by some miracle, we recognize that we are the brother/sister whose faith is weak, we must “not judge the one” whose faith is strong. Can you imagine how much sweeter our dialogue with other Christians, even those with whom we strongly disagree on matters of religion or politics, would be if none of us were judging each other or treating each other with contempt? I can. Unfortunately, imagining is all I can do because I have seen a steady stream of judgment, contempt and downright hatred between Christians, even within the confines of my own church family.


Satan is having a field day. He doesn’t have to work hard at all because we Christians are doing the work for him. We are dividing ourselves because of politics, which weakens us and makes it easier for the Evil One to make inroads into our church, our minds and our hearts. The peace that passes understanding for Christians comes from the knowledge that God is ultimately in control, and we know how the story ends. Scripture in I John 4:4 assures us that He wins in the end and that all the chaos and hatred that is swirling around us now is temporary, although painful. “Ye are of God, little children, and have overcome them because greater is He that is in you than he that is in the world.”


Therefore, we must be better versions of ourselves—not the versions which Satan convinces us we are, but the versions which God intends for us to be. May God bless us all in this endeavor.


Love you all!

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