So many times we have heard people say, “I cannot believe that she is a Christian,” or, “Does he really go to church?” These and other disparaging remarks are made about Christians. Why is this? What is it that the person is saying or doing to render such comments? Obviously, the behavior is unbecoming. We have to realize that an important aspect of our Christianity is our relationship with Christ. Yet, we oftentimes do not portray this in our speech and actions, so we give the world this view of Christians “behaving badly”…Say it ain’t so!
Christ should be reflected in our “walk” and “talk.” This is not about legalities and observing religious rules; rather, it is about our spiritual connection to Christ. When we are not courteous to others or display nasty attitudes, the Christian image is tarnished. If we belong to a social organization or work group, we easily follow their guidelines. Yet, we find it difficult to demonstrate Christian qualities. Every day we hurt each other and can always find a reason to legitimize our words or actions, instead of stopping the behavior…Say it ain’t so!
Youths say that the older folks are hypocrites. The adults berate them when they are wrong, yet they do not set the right example. However, each person is accountable for his or her own behavior. Can a bystander discern who the Christians are in a group of teenagers walking and talking on the sidewalk or in a mall? Will church members continually disrespect each other by being rude and not talking to each other? When will preachers and pastors stop their unethical activities? The way we misbehave is such a turn off to people that we cannot draw them to Christ…Say it ain’t so!
How can we change this perception? One way is by fortifying ourselves with the “fruit of the Spirit” (Galatians 5:22-23) to strengthen our relationship with Christ, which in turn will effect positive changes in our lives and those of the people we encounter each day.
Ways to Fortify Yourself with the Fruit of the Spirit:
Joy – You might not be the kind of person to jump out of bed in the morning in joyful anticipation of the day ahead. However, you can begin by being thankful that you are alive. Stop walking around all down and out, moping, and instead, put a spring in your step and a song in your heart. Uplift yourself and be joyful!
Peace – When all “hell is breaking loose,” find a quiet place to regroup. Do not focus on the problem. Train your mind to concentrate on things that will calm you: recall pleasant childhood memories or that joke that still makes you chuckle even though you have heard it numerous times. Reflect on the awesome power of God and what He has done for you. Keep positive thoughts flowing through your mind to achieve inner peace.
Patience – When a driver cuts you off or someone pushes you out of the way, resist the urge to yell or make a rude gesture. Otherwise, you will fret and stress out over the incident, while the other person is long gone. Do not give in to this temptation; just take deep breaths.
Kindness – Anyone who has been on the receiving end of malicious gossip knows how painful it can be. Let us stop gossiping. Change the conversation, walk away, leave the room, hang up the phone, or simply tell the gossip to stop. There are various ways to show kindness, and a kind word can have a lasting impact.
Goodness – Have you done a good deed recently? Look around you: there is always someone who needs help in some way. Be hospitable and share your goodwill. Simply being a good listener, giving someone a hug, or helping a teenager or neighbor can work wonders for both you and the other person.
Faithfulness – Be true to God and His word. Keep praying, worshipping, and serving Him with enthusiasm. This will enable you to keep negative distractions at bay.
Gentleness – It does not cost anything to be gracious. There is no need to walk around with a chip on your shoulder, angry at everyone. Be humble, thank people for a wonderful service they performed, and greet others with a smile. We are all connected by the strands of our faith and having humility goes a long way in keeping that bond intact.
Self-control – There are times when you may be tempted to snap, but what good will this bring? When faced with trying situations, be cautious. Do not say a word until you are composed. If pressed, you can respond with “I will get back to you later.” Count to ten or bite your tongue. Do whatever it takes to pause before responding; just do not let someone else make you lose your cool.
Love – When you truly have love in your heart and can express it in your words and actions, all obstacles will pale in comparison and you will be able to demonstrate the fruit of the Spirit effortlessly! Keep in mind the lyrics: “Yes they’ll know we are Christians by our love, by our love, yes they’ll know we are Christians by our love!”
We all slipup at times, and an apology can help make amends if we are sincere. However, our behavior can be utterly deplorable. Thus, we must change the way we live and interact with others. Let us not forget who we represent. Let us not make a mockery of Christianity. Let us not give others cause to say of us, “I cannot believe she is a Christian!” Say it ain’t so!