Friendly fire is defined as weapon fire coming from one’s own side, especially fire that causes accidental injury or death to one’s own forces.
“Do all things without complaining and disputing, that you may become blameless and harmless, children of God without fault in the midst of a crooked and perverse generation, among whom you shine as lights in the world, holding fast the word of life, so that I may rejoice in the day of Christ that I have not run in vain or labored in vain.” Philippians 2:14-16
We are lights in the world and when we are working together in the work of the Lord, Paul exhorts us to “do all things without complaining and disputing”. The unsaved people we seek to serve in our local communities take notice of this behavior because it is so unusual.
An outlet for complaining
With social media there is a very big outlet for complaining. Often when someone is cut off by another driver, or has received bad customer service, they take to social media and publicize their complaints. A broadcast medium for all that is wrong with the world from politics to the behavior of other people to the weather.
Nothing is off limits to the social media world. It’s difficult not to get caught up in this world of discontent.
We can be guilty of friendly fire
When we participate in our assemblies’ activities with hearts of discontent and voice them, we can be shooting wildly and a friend can get caught in the spray of fire and become injured.
Godly people struggle to keep outreaches or ministries going, to add new life to them, to get others involved and to really impact the unsaved for the glory of God. We do not always see the doubts they experience about whether to continue on. We may be surprised that our one word of complaint is just what it takes for someone to give it up and take themselves out of action.
Or perhaps another believer considering getting involved to help in a ministry is swayed by a comment not to get involved or worse yet, an unsaved witness to the complaining loses interest in an outreach intended to teach them Christ’s love for them.
There is an alternative way
So what can we do to prevent friendly fire and discontent? Paul was no stranger to friendly fire and he has given us some tips on avoiding it in our assemblies.
1. “Rejoice always, pray without ceasing, in everything, give thanks” 1 Thes 5:16
This is so contrary to the world we live in but we are told that this should be the prevailing attitude in our lives. Praying throughout our days not just about each other’s struggles and needs but praising God for blessings. Being thankful in what? In everything!
2. Present yourself as a sacrifice.
This thought comes from Romans 12:1-5. If we are a sacrifice, any hardships are not in vain. We endure because we know that we are a sacrifice for the glory of God as a privileged representative of Christ who suffered for us as a lamb, silent before his shearers. We are a sacrifice and we are all part of one body belonging to each other!
We take care of our own and have each other’s backs. We also need to take care of the pride issue within ourselves. “By pride comes nothing but strife.” Proverbs 13:10.
3. Be considerate.
“We who are strong must be considerate of those who are sensitive about things like this. We must not just please ourselves. 2 We should help others do what is right and build them up in the Lord. For even Christ didn’t live to please himself.” Romans 15:1-3a
If we are strong, we are capable of making others strong. Being self-serving is fruitless in the body of Christ.
4. Allow the Word to change you.
“ Such things were written in the Scriptures long ago to teach us. And the Scriptures give us hope and encouragement as we wait patiently for God’s promises to be fulfilled.” Romans 15:4-5
The Word gives us hope and encouragement. Reading His Word will equip us with Christ-like attitudes that love to please others!
5. Do it for the Lord!
What greater motivation is this from the Lord in Matthew 25:40? “I tell you the truth, when you did it to one of the least of these my brothers and sisters, you were doing it to me!” So what we are doing for each other, we are doing it as unto the Lord himself. What an honour and privilege and a great inspiration to lift one another up!
6. Watch your words
As we carry on in our own assemblies, seeking to serve the Lord together as one body, let us be mindful of how our words can impact people. Are we using them to build each other up or tear each other down? Do we really need to point out faults to one another?
7. Help, don’t hinder
Can we ask “How can I help?” rather than complain, “This is so unorganized” or “Changing this makes it more difficult for me.” Can we stop focusing on discovering errors and instead work on how to be a solution to problems? Can we take the time to be thankful even in the midst of error or failure and persevere with joyful hearts?