Here comes the judge

Did you enjoy the Superbowl? I did, except the halftime show. No surprise there, right?  It is quite alright to acknowledge that what I was seeing was an artform that I do not understand or appreciate, but, when I assign a value to that which is not my preference, I make myself a judge.  We who are disciples of Jesus are taught to lay down the gavel.

Our Lord’s words are well-known:  “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.” (Matthew 7:1-2, NIV)  These are among the most abused and misunderstood words in the Bible. They are often used to excuse others from accountability or as a reason to justify choices that are plainly wrong. Jesus never asked us to suspend our good sense, to set aside a discerning heart that sees the truth, or to refuse to seek positive change. What He asks of us, as His disciples, is to be kind and patient, not quick to condemn, ready to step into the messes of humanity to work to make them better.  

The Message, a paraphrase of the Bible, helps us to grasp His meaning. “Don’t pick on people, jump on their failures, criticize their faults— unless, of course, you want the same treatment. That critical spirit has a way of boomeranging. It’s easy to see a smudge on your neighbor’s face and be oblivious to the ugly sneer on your own. Do you have the nerve to say, ‘Let me wash your face for you,’ when your own face is distorted by contempt? It’s this whole traveling road-show mentality all over again, playing a holier-than-thou part instead of just living your part. Wipe that ugly sneer off your own face, and you might be fit to offer a washcloth to your neighbor.” (Matthew 7:1-5, The Message)

In that passage Jesus talks about a person trying to get a speck of sawdust out of another’s eye while have a post in his own eye! When we see what appears to be failure, Jesus is not teaching us to turn a blind eye or excuse it. Genuine love seeks the best and speaks the truth. Is it a loving choice to watch a person going full speed towards their own destruction and say nothing? The answer is obvious. But we can only help others when we are able to see our own need, our own failures without excuse. Then, we can act in compassion.

Our model is none other than God as He works with you and me. He is a God of amazing love; merciful, and redemptive! We know this and are comforted by it. When we fail, when we are willful;  He does not sweep down upon us to slap us down in rage. Instead, the Spirit comes with persistent conviction, urging us to turn around. He shows us the Way and offers forgiveness. And, He leads us through the process of spiritual growth that changes us from the inside out. In this age of cancel culture and harsh judgments, we who are loved by the Savior must lead the way in redemptive behavior, seeking to restore, not erase. In our personal relationships we must take care to contextualize the words and actions of others, acting with compassion.

And, we must remember that our preference is not the same as God’s principle!  In his letter to the Romans, Paul reminds those Christians to keep Jesus first, over their personal convictions about dietary habits, days of worship, and other religious issues.  “Who are you to condemn God’s servants? They are responsible to the Lord, so let him tell them whether they are right or wrong. The Lord’s power will help them do as they should. … For we are not our own masters when we live or when we die. While we live, we live to please the Lord. And when we die, we go to be with the Lord. So in life and in death, we belong to the Lord. … For the Scriptures say, “ ‘As surely as I live,’ says the Lord, ‘every knee will bow to me and every tongue will confess allegiance to God.’” (Romans 14:4, 7-8, 11, NLT)

Got a brother in the Lord who’s failing?
Love him to life, starting with prayer for understanding. Meet him where he is.

Wrestling with how to help that person who
keeps making the same self-destructive choice? 
Frame your response with loving kindness
that seeks transformation without condemnation.

Here is a word from the Word for this new week. Pray for the perspective of an eternal being, Christ above all. “Since, then, you have been raised with Christ, set your hearts on things above, where Christ is seated at the right hand of God. Set your minds on things above, not on earthly things. For you died, and your life is now hidden with Christ in God. When Christ, who is your life, appears, then you also will appear with him in glory.” (Colossians 3:1-4, NIV)

(Video of this blog at this link)

______________

Before The Throne Of God Above

Before the throne of God above
I have a strong and perfect plea
A great High Priest whose name is Love
Who ever lives and pleads for me
My name is graven on His hands
My name is written on His heart
I know that while in heav’n He stands
No tongue can bid me thence depart
No tongue can bid me thence depart

Hallelujah
My life is found in Jesus Christ
Hallelujah
For I am His and He is mine

When Satan tempts me to despair
And tells me of the guilt within
Upward I look and see Him there
Who made an end to all my sin
Because the sinless Saviour died
My sinful soul is counted free
For God the Just is satisfied
To look on Him and pardon me
To look on Him and pardon me

Behold Him there the risen Lamb
My perfect spotless righteousness
The great unchangeable I Am
The King of glory and of grace
One with Himself I cannot die
My soul is purchased with His blood
My life is hid with Christ on high
With Christ my Saviour and my God
With Christ my Saviour and my God

I bow before the cross of Christ
And marvel at this love divine
God’s perfect Son was sacrificed
To make me righteous in God’s eyes
This river’s depths I cannot know
But I can glory in its flood
The Lord Most High has bowed down low
And poured on me His glorious love
And poured on me His glorious love

Charitie Lees Bancroft | Vikki Cook

© 1997 Sovereign Grace Worship (Admin. by Integrity Music)

CCLI License # 810055

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