For the entire law is fulfilled in keeping this one command: “Love your neighbor as yourself.” But if you bite and devour each other, watch out or you will be destroyed by each other.” (Galatians 5:14-15)
The man sitting in my office spoke of his 22-year-old son, who died two weeks earlier. He died on a gurney at the hospital from a heroin overdose.
The man, shattered and raw, said to me during our first meeting, “I’m so afraid to talk about it. I would be walking into a very dark and cold cave. I am afraid I might never come out.”
The man continued:
“What really angers me is he had an opportunity to go into a recovery program, but some people were bad mouthing the program and it turned him off. Now he’s dead. I wouldn’t have cared if the drug program was a prison camp! If those people would have kept their mouths shut my boy might still be alive!”
As a psychologist, I have heard people bad mouth, “bite and devour,” recovery programs for 35 years:
“AA is for religious freaks.”
“Teen Challenge is a Jesus prison camp.”
“Celebrate Recovery doesn’t help REAL alcoholics.”
“The Betty Ford Treatment Center is a resort, not a recovery program.”
But like the man in my office, would you really care if it were your son or daughter lying dead on a gurney? What if one of those programs could save your child’s life?
So, what has this to do with Christians who “bite and devour” one another?
In the verse above Paul described legalism as an act of “biting and devouring.” An ugly display of law versus love. Paul reprimanded Christians for bad mouthing grace and demanding a perfect “program” for salvation!
Do Christians today bad mouth one another’s church programs? How do you think that appears to the nonbeliever? What about the Christian who is struggling with his faith?
We must remember there are people lying on gurneys of death. Our sons and daughters who need the grace of Jesus. Our friends and neighbors who are hurting, broken and searching for the answers of life.
There are no perfect Christians. No perfect churches. No perfect drug programs. God chose imperfect people to share a perfect gospel.
Love one another like it was your son or daughter on the gurney. Let them hear the loud, clear message of love, grace and forgiveness in Jesus!
Dr. David Zuccolotto is a former pastor and clinical psychologist. For 35 years he has worked for hospitals, addiction treatment centers, outpatient clinics and private practice. He is the author of The Love of God: A 70 Day Journey of Forgiveness.