Like most pastors, you’ve probably preached on some of the foundational passages in Scripture, such as those dealing with the fruit of the Spirit, spiritual gifts, and the qualities exemplified by Jesus in the Beatitudes.
But here’s a different take on those passages-considering the opposite qualities. You can probably add to these and create additional lists for a whole sermon series on opposites. Fortunately, Scripture offers plenty of application for approaching people who are living “opposite lives.”
Fruit of the Spirit – 2 Corinthians 6:6; Galatians 5:22-23; Ephesians 4:2; Colossians 3:12-15. The opposites of these gifts – love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness, and self-control – seem obvious: hatred, sorrow, impatience, cruelty, dishonesty, rudeness, and self-indulgence. And Scripture points out even more glaring sinful acts to exemplify people living without these fruitful qualities: “sexual immorality, impurity and debauchery; idolatry and witchcraft; hatred, discord, jealousy, fits of rage, selfish ambition, dissensions, factions and envy; drunkenness, orgies, and the like” (Galatians 5:19-21).
Gifts of the Spirit – Romans 12:6-8; 1 Corinthians 12:4-11; and Ephesians 4:7-l 1. Understanding the opposites of these gifts – apostleship, knowledge, wisdom, teaching, evangelism, pastor-teacher – might be less important than using the gifts in a way God doesn’t intend them to be used. The Holy Spirit gives each Christian at least one of these gifts to glorify God and to build up other Christians and the church. If someone uses a gift for selfish gain or to draw attention to himself or herself, that’s an abuse of the gift.
The Beatitudes – Matthew 5:3-10. These qualities are words directly from Jesus: poor in spirit, those who mourn, the meek, those who hunger and thirst for righteousness, the merciful, pure in heart, the peacemakers, and those who are persecuted. Consider the opposites: spiritual snobs who think they know it all about faith; those who are cold and unfeeling toward others; the haughty, proud, and self-willed; those whose desires and appetites focus only on selfish gain; the hard-hearted and unforgiving; those with impure motives; those who stir up trouble; and those who flee from the cause of Christ.
Confront, forgive, and restore – Scripture offers plenty of direction for dealing with people living opposite lives or abusing their gifts. While our human tendency might be to create tabloid headlines or hold grudges, the Bible offers radically different guidance – confront, then forgive and restore. Jesus says, “If your brother sins against you, go and show him his fault, just between the two of you…if he will not listen, take one or two others along” (Matthew 18:15-16). The Apostle Paul wrote, “If anyone has caused grief…the punishment inflicted on him by the majority is sufficient for him. Now instead, you ought to forgive and comfort him…I urge you, therefore, to reaffirm your love for him” (2 Corinthians 2:5-8).
REV. November/December 2002
2ProphetU is an online magazine/website, started by Warren Wiersbe and Michael Catt, to build up the church, seek revival, and encourage pastors.