Something I seem to lose track of from time to time. Most people who know me understand it, the fact that my ego has a tendency to become the size of a small town. I condescend for the sake of legitimacy, it appears to work or at least it used to. Funny thing is now I have insight…and foresight. I use to lack both until hindsight kicked in and kicked me, right where it hurt.
It is fair to suggest I have hurt many. It is also fair to say I have done so with reckless abandon and no concern for humanity and emotion, at least at times. For many years I traipsed on the hearts of those around me, with the belief that I was not only superior, but if not me, then who was going to point out their flawed logic and lack of understanding. It’s as if I never left that blissful age of ignorance and youthful exuberance, where one is always right and how dare you question me, you idiot!!
Then something odd occurred, I got saved and found Jesus and invited Him into my heart and began re-learning all the blessed truths I had grown up with. I found truth and a deeper understanding of life, not just here on earth but for all eternity. Fantastic, some would say. Praise God, others would shout. It’s about time, even more would yell.
Now for the really odd…so hang on. Just when I should be practicing and preaching this good news that I have recently found (again), I find myself reading the New Testament with a sense of alarm. Of course there is the amazing and powerful section in Matthew 22:34-40 that speaks of loving God first and then your neighbor. That all of God’s Law and the Prophets hangs on these two commands, these pegs that hold everything else up.
But while Jesus was explicitly clear about loving God and our neighbor, about loving our enemy and living a life for God, He was also very clear about a few other key traits that followers of Him must do. For instance, grow up. We are kingdom subjects and we need to live like it. Living generously and graciously toward others, the way God lives toward us. You notice there is no mention of God living in animosity towards us right? You notice that God is not at war with us, or do you have a new version of the Bible I haven’t read yet? Oops, there’s that sarcasm again, sorry.
Jesus was blunt, at times even a bit sarcastic himself. In Mark 7:18 Jesus asked the crowd if they “were being willfully stupid”, in regards to the real source of pollution. It’s not what goes in, it’s what comes out, like vomit but from the heart. “Obscenities, lusts, thefts, murders, adulteries, greed, depravity, deceptive dealings, carousing, mean looks, slander, arrogance, foolishness, all these are vomit from the heart”.
So is my intolerance a version of arrogance all over again? Or is the intent of my heart to see that others find Jesus and understand that we are to leave this old life behind and begin anew? That when you find Jesus and invite Him in, you learn that you have to let go of childish ways and graduate to His ways. There is no walking on the fence. There is only one way, for no one goes to the Father except through Jesus Christ the Son.
So many would suggest that we as Christians have no place to judge. In truth we all fall short of the glory of God. However when a brother or sister is failing, aren’t we instructed to admonish and to hold accountable and correct? Pardon me for finding a neat way around using the word “judge” here. If you claim to be walking with God but blatantly go against His word, aren’t I as a loving Christian supposed to expose this problem to you and if you refuse to listen, aren’t I suppose to go to 2 or 3 others within the community or church as a step towards reproof?
With this said it is also important to remember the plank in one’s own eye before pointing out the one in your friend’s eye. However, provided you are living right, it is clearly our duty to be examples to the lost, as well as other believers who are in need of that “shining light”.
This is the blond hair of a tightrope we must walk between self-righteousness and self-aggrandizement. The difference between believing you are right and behaving smugly, and knowing you are right and aggressively waving your knowledge in everyone’s faces.
Let me put it this way, instead of using the word “judge” which infers I am wearing some black robe and waving a gavel, how about if you picture me as a signpost with a very important message. That message is an imperative one that if you miss you alone may be held responsible for your lack of observance. Remember that the NEW Covenant has been written on our hearts, there is no escaping that.
Too often we mistake the concept of judging someone with the very real fact of condemning them. If you are that guilty already, me pointing out your shortcomings, right or wrong on my part, is a clear indication you missed the message on the signpost.
So in retrospect, let’s cut to the chase here. First, I am as lost as you are in so much as I need His grace and have no hope of eternity without it. I must have Jesus at the center of my heart and my life and confess the very real sins for which I commit everyday. Those sins are not committed out of some sort of spite, I am a fallen man in a fallen world and need nothing except the real forgiveness that our Lord offers through his Son’s death on the cross. My accepting that is the first and greatest step towards eternity with Him (P.S. there’s your signpost message, don’t miss it).
Second, recognize that I am not here to “judge” you. Get over yourself for once and figure out real quick that this is not about you, it never has been. God wants you to be saved but this life is not yours, it’s His.
Third, no matter who you are or where you’ve been or what you’ve done in this life, Jesus accepts you now. Don’t stress over the stains, we all have them. Don’t freak out about the mess, He will help you clean it up. But remember, if I am pointing out a stain it’s not cuz I think you’re a bad person. I want nothing more than for you to make this life beautiful by bringing glory to Him because you are of Him.
Lastly, I would be honored to be counted as your brother. It would bring me great satisfaction to be holding your hand when we walk into His presence. I am first His servant in this life and as such wish for many others to be saved by Him and live lives that impact the Kingdom.
Take the next step and take responsibility for yourself as a kingdom subject. First by being humble in His sight, and then by seeking to be humble to this world, as Christ was humble in our sight.
Peace and Love to you all.