Friday, October 15, 2010

Judge not ???

10/15/10 Friday
It’s an unsettled morning. There are concerns about our finances, and with that questions of the wisdom of us both going to the three day Kairos event at Ft. Stockton. What do we do with the dogs and cats? We can’t afford to board them and boarding them would require they get shots. The whole VA seizing our checks thing is hitting us hard and will continue to do so into next year. All of this because some bureaucrat in Toledo didn’t fill out the right form or do their job.

Everything is a fight, an uphill battle against unseen forces that disrupt relationships and cause problems everywhere we go. This morning I read Colossians 3:1 to Cherie. It says to set your mind on things above, not on earthly things. That’s hard to do when earthly things threaten to overwhelm you. I encouraged her that we need to make the sacrifice of going to Fort Stockton as through it we would be serving the Lord together.

I sometimes wonder why we always have to struggle, when others seem to have it so easy. There are some who preach and believe that the ones who struggle have problems because they are not right with God, while the ones who prosper do so because they are right with God. With that comes a sense of superiority, a pride that says “I’m better than you are”. But I read that “All who live Godly in Christ Jesus SHALL suffer persecution” and when I review the lives of the apostles I find Paul writing this; “10 We are fools for Christ, but you are so wise in Christ! We are weak, but you are strong! You are honored, we are dishonored! 11 To this very hour we go hungry and thirsty, we are in rags, we are brutally treated, we are homeless. 12 We work hard with our own hands. When we are cursed, we bless; when we are persecuted, we endure it; 13 when we are slandered, we answer kindly. Up to this moment we have become the scum of the earth, the refuse of the world.” (1 Corinthians 4) Who can argue that Paul was not a man of God? Of course he was, yet his life wasn’t easy by any stretch of the imagination. I tell Cherie that we face such opposition because God has great plans for us. There have been moments when the thought crossed my mind that if that were true it would be easier to not serve God, the temptation to take the easy road. But I can’t do that, for I know the end of the easy road is not pleasant and final.

It seems that every morning turns into a bible study. When I went to look up the “we are in rags” reference I did what I always do, read the context of the scripture. I do this because it is unwise to pick out sentences from the scripture to make a point. This is how many make the bible say what they want it to and thus perpetuate error. In reading this area of Corinthians I find an interesting revelation on “Judgment” so lets take a moment to explore it.

“Judge not, lest you be judged” is the scripture known by more who don’t believe in, or follow, God than any other. It’s quickly quoted and thrown up whenever there is any indication that a questionable activity is brought up. This has been thrown at me recently by some we’ve had trouble with. This is found in Mathew 7:1 "Do not judge, or you too will be judged. 2 For in the same way you judge others, you will be judged, and with the measure you use, it will be measured to you.” And it’s important to note the complete statement. The way we judge others will be a part of our judgment when it comes down to that day. Understand that all will be judged, Christian and non Christian alike and the idea that Christians will stand before God without any accountability for the life they lead is a deceiving lie, and a dangerous one to believe. There will be a separation of the sheep and goats and then there are those who will be given places of honor and various rewards based on their deeds. Sure, we are saved by faith, not by works, but time and again the bible says we will be judged on our deeds. Like James said “Show me your faith without works and I’ll show you my faith by my works. Faith without works is dead”.

1 Corinthians 3 expounds a little on this when it says “10 But each one should be careful how he builds. 11 For no one can lay any foundation other than the one already laid, which is Jesus Christ. 12 If any man builds on this foundation using gold, silver, costly stones, wood, hay or straw, 13 his work will be shown for what it is, because the Day will bring it to light. It will be revealed with fire, and the fire will test the quality of each man's work. 14 If what he has built survives, he will receive his reward. 15 If it is burned up, he will suffer loss; he himself will be saved, but only as one escaping through the flames.”

Speaking of laying foundations let me explain what Paul is addressing when he wrote this. There was great division in the Corinthian church, as there is in all of Christianity today so Paul certainly desired to create unity and combat this. The division was based on personalities and it appears that different factions were following different individuals. There is always a danger in looking at a person in that doing so often means you’ve taken your eyes off of Christ. I know great public speakers who have the power to mesmerize their audiences and in doing so create a loyalty that sometimes belies common sense. With that power comes pride and with pride comes a fall. It’s a pattern that has been repeated throughout the history of man. That doesn’t mean all powerful speakers are bad. Many indeed are servants of Christ and do a great work but one must always examine things and keep their eyes on the author and finisher of our faith, Jesus Christ.

So understanding what Paul is addressing let’s go on. In 1 Corinthians 4 Paul writes “2 Now it is required that those who have been given a trust must prove faithful. 3 I care very little if I am judged by you or by any human court; indeed, I do not even judge myself. 4 My conscience is clear, but that does not make me innocent. It is the Lord who judges me. 5 Therefore judge nothing before the appointed time; wait till the Lord comes. He will bring to light what is hidden in darkness and will expose the motives of men's hearts. At that time each will receive his praise from God.”

This judgment is one of esteem, whether one person is better than the other. Paul makes clear that it is the Lord who makes this judgment and of course we all know we will face it. One important point to make is a central theme found throughout the bible, both old and new testament. That is that everything done in darkness will be brought to light, there are no secrets when it comes to that, and the core of all judgment is the motive of the heart. I say again what I’ve said so many times before, it’s not what you do, it’s why you do it.

This type of judgment is clearly dealt with by James, the brother of Jesus. In chapter two we read;
1 My brothers, as believers in our glorious Lord Jesus Christ, don't show favoritism. 2 Suppose a man comes into your meeting wearing a gold ring and fine clothes, and a poor man in shabby clothes also comes in. 3 If you show special attention to the man wearing fine clothes and say, "Here's a good seat for you," but say to the poor man, "You stand there" or "Sit on the floor by my feet," 4 have you not discriminated among yourselves and become judges with evil thoughts? 5 Listen, my dear brothers: Has not God chosen those who are poor in the eyes of the world to be rich in faith and to inherit the kingdom he promised those who love him? 6 But you have insulted the poor. Is it not the rich who are exploiting you? Are they not the ones who are dragging you into court?

James says “Have you not become judges with evil thoughts?” How we have seen, and felt this attitude, this sense of “we’re better than you are”. Understand that pride is at the core of all sin, all evil. Any thought of your personal superiority over someone else has pride at its root and pride opens a door for deception. Here enters in two more core principles of our faith. First is Jesus’ command that we love our neighbor as our self. In order to do that you must hold that neighbor to be just as good as you, or perhaps even better than you. Think about it, love them as you love your self. This principle is throughout the word of God and admittedly isn’t easy to practice. It requires a humbling of yourself and the ability to recognize your tendency to judge. This kind of self examination is a daily practice we should all do, for without it we will continue is sin and in dishonoring our Lord. Jesus, who is since the beginning of time, who is God, came to earth and humbled Himself. He washed the disciple’s feet, and let men whip, beat, spit on Him, mock Him, and kill Him, for us, so that we, whom He loves, might have eternal life.

And thus He practiced the principle of love and also the second principle. It is expressed in many ways, The first shall be last and the last first, the rich poor and the poor rich, the exalted will be humbled and the humble exalted, the foolish wise and the wise foolish, and the least shall be the greatest. Jesus said "Truly I say to you, there is no one who has left house or brothers or sisters or mother or father or children or farms, for My sake and for the gospel's sake, 30 but that he will receive a hundred times as much now in the present age, houses and brothers and sisters and mothers and children and farms, along with persecutions ; and in the age to come, eternal life. 31 "But many who are first will be last, and the last, first."

So who are we to judge someone as being less than we? Such is a dangerous thing to do. When that man came by the farm yesterday I saw him for what he was, a man in need, and did the best I could to help him. I am not any better than he is despite owning a house and having a truck to drive. I’ve walked in his shoes, wandering the streets not knowing where my next meal would come from with only the clothes on my back as my possession. Jesus died for him just as much as He died for me, and you.

We take heart in James’ words found in the first chapter of his letter “9 But the brother of humble circumstances is to glory in his high position ; 10 and the rich man is to glory in his humiliation, because like flowering grass he will pass away. 11 For the sun rises with a scorching wind and withers the grass ; and its flower falls off and the beauty of its appearance is destroyed ; so too the rich man in the midst of his pursuits will fade away.” While our life is a struggle we keep our eye on the goal and take comfort in these principles.

Now here comes the flip side on judgment. In the next chapter of 1 Corinthians we find this 5:1 It is actually reported that there is immorality among you, and immorality of such a kind as does not exist even among the Gentiles, that someone has his father's wife. 2 You have become arrogant and have not mourned instead, so that the one who had done this deed would be removed from your midst. 3 For I, on my part, though absent in body but present in spirit, have already judged him who has so committed this, as though I were present. 4 In the name of our Lord Jesus, when you are assembled, and I with you in spirit, with the power of our Lord Jesus, 5 I have decided to deliver such a one to Satan for the destruction of his flesh, so that his spirit may be saved in the day of the Lord Jesus.

In chapter 4 Paul said don’t judge anyone before the “Day” (referring to the day of judgment) and here he says that he has judged this man already. Is this a contradiction? Nope, not at all for it is a different kind of judgment. Jesus said to “Judge not” and later that we must “Judge with a righteous judgment”. All of us must make judgments every day throughout our day. We must determine if something is right or wrong, healthy or unhealthy, and so on. For the case of the man with his father’s wife it’s a pretty clear cut picture that something is wrong. We are required to make these judgments. Paul’s statement to “Turn this one over to Satan” sounds pretty harsh but in reality it’s a plea of sorts to save his soul. Like Jesus said in Mathew 16:24 Then Jesus said to his disciples, "If anyone would come after me, he must deny himself and take up his cross and follow me. 25 For whoever wants to save his life will lose it, but whoever loses his life for me will find it. 26 What good will it be for a man if he gains the whole world, yet forfeits his soul? Or what can a man give in exchange for his soul?

I’ve got to go meet my wife so will finish this later.

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