Wednesday, February 27, 2008

The Word on Wednesday...

"I care very little if I am judged by you or by any human; indeed, I do not even judge myself. My conscience is clear, but that does not make me innocent. It is the LORD who judges me. Therefore judge nothing before the appointed time; wait till the Lord comes. He will bring to light what is hidden in darkness and expose the motives of men's hearts. At that time each will receive his praise from God." 1 Corinthians 4:3-5

"You, then, why do you judge your brother? Or why do you look down on your brother? For we will all stand before God's judgement seat." Romans 14:10

Have you ever judged someone because of the way they looked, what they wore, the way they acted, or because of something they said? Or, have you been the victim of being judged because of your appearance, what you believe, something you did? Have you ever questioned someone else's character, faith or walk with the Lord, or has your character, faith or walk with the Lord ever been questioned? Matthew 7:1-5 says, "Do not judge, or you too will be judged. For in the same way you judge others, you will be judged, and with the measure you use, it will be measured to you." (Ouch!) "Why do you look at the speck of sawdust in your brother's eye and pay no attention to the plank in your own eye? How can you say to your brother, 'Let me remove the speck out of your eye,' when all the time there is a plank in your own eye? You hypocrite, first take the plank out of your own eye, and then you will see clearly to remove the speck from your brother's eye." (If there actually is one, I might add.)

From the verses in 1 Corinthians 4 and Matthew 7, God makes it clear that He is the judge. He even calls those who think they have the right to judge others a hypocrite! So many non-believers that I have encountered, are so turned off by Christianity and the church, because they say that Christians are hypocritical and judgemental. It is really hard for me to argue with that, especially when I have encountered Christians who have the nerve to judge/question fellow brothers' and sisters' Christ likeness and walk with the Lord. My bible says that it is our job as Christians to go out into the world, witness and bring non-believers to know Christ, not sit in church and knit-pick our fellow brothers and sisters in Christ. When this happens I can picture my Lord on His throne, shaking His head in disappointment. James 4:11-12 says, "Brothers, do not slander one another. Anyone who speaks against his brother or judges him, speaks against the law and judges it. When you judge the law, you are not keeping it, but sitting in judgment on it. There is only one Lawgiver and Judge, the one who is able to save and destroy. But you- who are you to judge your neighbor?" Well said!

It is those same judgmental Christians who try to push their convictions on everyone around them. Have you ever been around someone who takes an issue and tries to make the answer black or white, right or wrong, for everyone in every situation? This person knows what you should and should not watch, eat, drink, wear, believe, spend your time on, listen to, and so forth. Now don't get me wrong, clear absolutes from God's Word do exist. But there are areas- grey areas- where God just doesn't give us a clear word. These situations require us to be wise, discerning and use our own Spirit-led judgment.

The key is to focus on the kingdom of God, which is "righteousness, peace and joy in the Holy Spirit." It's building each other up and not creating dissension over nonessential issues. It means not going beyond what Scripture says, imposing our own standards on others or making following Jesus more difficult than necessary. Romans 14:22 says, "So whatever you believe about these things keep between yourself and God. Blessed is the man who does not condemn himself by what he approves."

I have a major conviction about listening to any kind of secular music. I believe that God has placed it on my heart to only listen to Christian music. Am I going to tell others not to listen to any kind of secular music? Never! I also have a major conviction about drinking soda. Eight years ago, God convicted me that I was not eating/drinking healthily- I had a chips and a Pepsi pretty much everyday for lunch. It is a well known fact that soda can eat away the corrosion from a car battery- think about what it must do to our bodies! I decided that I needed to quit drinking sodas right then. I didn't have another sip of any kind of soda for almost 4 years. For the past several years, I have only had a Sprite about 4-6 times a year. Am I going to look down on or judge someone else who drinks soda? No, that would be absurd! Romans 14:17-18 says, "For the kingdom of God is not a matter of eating and drinking..." (whether it be soda, alcohol, cookies or bon-bons,) "but of righteousness, peace and joy in the Holy Spirit, because anyone who serves Christ in THIS way is pleasing to God." I think that too many Christians look at people and see them through their own eyes rather than God's eyes. The church's main problem is not tolerance, but judgement and lack of mercy. Unfortunately, so many Christians are too caught up in the works (what we do or don't do.) God says that our works are like "filthy rags." It is by FAITH that we are saved, not by works (the things we do or don't do.)

Have you cultivated your own convictions on the gray areas? That's fine, but don't use them as a club to harm others. And don't be too quick to pass judgment on others who live out their Christian lives differently from you. Instead, "speak and act as those who are going to be judged by the law that gives freedom, because judgment without mercy will be shown to anyone who has not been merciful. Mercy triumphs over judgment!" (James 2:12-13).

One last scripture reference: "May the God who gives endurance and encouragement give you a spirit of unity among yourselves as you follow Christ Jesus, so that with one heart and mouth you may glorify the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ. Accept one another, then, just as Christ accepted you, in order to bring praise to God." Romans 15:5-7

O Lord, please help me to be solid on truth but compassionate and sensitive to my brothers and sisters on matters of opinion. Help me to strive to work with them for the Glory of God rather than knit-pick our differences. I love you, Jesus!

9 comments:

Caroline said...

AMEN AMEN AMEN
TO GOD BE THE GLORY!!!!! Thank you for speaking such truth today!

Jessica said...

You are right- too many times we get caught up in the "works" aspect of church, and not the great commission. If we are walking in God's will, communicate with him about ALL aspects of our lives, and have a deep, gratifying personal relationship, then our job is to reach out to the world and share Christ's love. I have had this debate NUMEROUS times with close friends who are penecostal holiness. When we get so caught up in what other people think and about issues that really don't amount to much other than opinions, we forget what is important, and that is sharing Christ with the world. If the word of God doesn't back it up, don't do it. If the word of God does back it up, I believe it is acceptable in His eyes. Thank goodness we have the word of God and are not living in old testament times.

Mandy said...

Thanks for the great reminder again today!! I really enjoy you doing this each Wednesday and reminding us of His word!! This is the one thing that I think everyone struggles with. It is so easy to see someone or something and instantly judge it or to worry about what someone else thinks or says about you!!

Tamara said...

Very well said! I'm so glad I have a sister that walks with Christ & is such a good example to others. Thank you for your Word on Wednesday's. It is so uplifting & reminds us of things we might forget about sometimes.

Candy said...

You are such a blessing to share the word with us each week. :)

The Holloway Family said...

You are so right, I'm sure that I'm guilty of judging someone at some point in my life but that is something that I try VERY hard not to do. I have been judged by others before for not holding the same convictions they do. I have also been judged for things I supposedly did based on hearsay. I know how hurtful that can be, especially because no one is perfect so we have no right to judge others!

Angela said...

Wow, this is the first time I am commenting but have been reading your blog on and off for a while. I believe this is so true. By the way, I love Christian music and it is all I listen to. It is such a worship time for me when I listen to Christian music (here we have KLOVE)...whether I'm alone in the car or with my kids, it is a special time to let the music "speak" to me.

Leigh said...

I could not agree with you more. Well said. I get evry fustrated at this very thing so often. I hear people what is right, or wrong, how people shold dress, behave. I think it is all in how you LIVE your life through Christ. That is the best testimony you can truly give.

Martha said...

I just stopped by to read your blog again...I've been reading off and on for a while. I just love this post! I love the verse in Romans 14 that you shared. Thanks for reminding us what the bible says about living the Christian life!