When new believers enter church life they are faced with gathering with others from all walks of life, people with an wide assortment of backgrounds and lifestyles and we are told to love them as we love ourselves. There will be times when that love will be challenged within us, when others may say or do things that may not seem right in our eyes, and when we may think that 'somebody needs to sort those people out'. It is at those times that we need to be careful they we do not sit in judgement upon them and come to our own conclusions about whether or not they deserve to be part of God's people.
Therefore you are inexcusable, O man, whoever you are who judge, for in whatever you judge another you condemn yourself; for you who judge practice the same things (Romans 2:1)
When we come to Christ and receive His gift of forgiveness and eternal salvation, we begin a process of transformation. We come into the church just as we are, but as God's Holy Spirit and the Word of God enter our heart small miracles begin to happen inside us. We begin to become a little more like Jesus on the inside first, then often we start to reflect that change on the outside as well.
But it takes time, and for some of us it may take a lifetime before we notice major changes. But God is very caring and patient toward His children, and so should we be toward our new brothers and sisters in the church.
The Christian life is more like a marathon rather than a sprint. Sometimes we are enjoying the victory and then there may be other times when we are living in defeat and just barely hanging onto God's grace.
It is at these times of defeat that we learn lessons of humility and just how much we need God's help to get us through each day. It is here that we learn the importance of extending grace to others, because we realise that we too need God's grace extended to us.
In all things we need to desire to become more like Christ in every area of our lives, both our inner thoughts and desires and our outward behaviours.
So what can we learn from how Jesus lived and taught His disciples?
(Matthew 7:1-2) “Judge not, that you be not judged. For with what judgment you judge, you will be judged; and with the measure you use, it will be measured back to you
And why do you look at the speck in your brother’s eye, but do not consider the plank in your own eye? Or how can you say to your brother, ‘Let me remove the speck from your eye’; and look, a plank is in your own eye? Hypocrite! First remove the plank from your own eye, and then you will see clearly to remove the speck from your brother’s eye.
Who is blind but My servant, Or deaf as My messenger whom I send? Who is blind as he who is perfect, And blind as the Lord’s servant? Seeing many things, but you do not observe; Opening the ears, but he does not hear.”
The 42nd chapter of the Book of Isaiah talks about the coming Messiah, Jesus is described here as God's servant, His elect one, a covenant, and a light. All these descriptions identify different aspects of Christ's ministry on the earth, but we also see the scripture verses above describing the servant as blind and deaf. I was uncertain as to the meaning of these verses until I was reminded of the amazing grace that Jesus showed to those He ministered to.
If there was ever anyone who had the right to judge and condemn people for their sins, it was Jesus Christ. He alone of all mankind was able to live a perfect life, free of sin. He alone had earned the right to be our Judge, and yet it seems that He continually showed mercy rather than judgement in much of His ministry.
Jesus Christ knew of every sin of the people He ministered to but chose not to judge, He chose not to see or hear their sins, but rather to show mercy
Jesus 1st and 2nd Coming
Jesus 1st coming: He came as Servant and Saviour
Jesus 2nd coming: He comes as our King and Judge
It's very important that all of God's children learn how we are to live ourselves, and how we are called to treat others, that they also may be won to Christ through our life and love.
There is a day coming when Jesus Christ shall return as King of Kings and shall judge the world in righteousness, but until that day we are appointed by Him to go forth and preach the good news of salvation through faith and by grace.
(Acts 17:31) because He has appointed a day on which He will judge the world in righteousness by the Man whom He has ordained. He has given assurance of this to all by raising Him from the dead.”
What Manner of Spirit Are We Of?
(Luke 9:54-56) And when His disciples James and John saw this, they said, “Lord, do You want us to command fire to come down from heaven and consume them, just as Elijah did?” But He turned and rebuked them, and said, “You do not know what manner of spirit you are of. For the Son of Man did not come to destroy men’s lives but to save them.” And they went to another village.
James and John were named by Jesus as 'The Sons of Thunder' and I think it's safe to assume that these brothers were pretty boisterous and always ready for action. However, on this occasion Jesus had to correct their actions and teach them afresh that His Spirit and His commission was Not to bring judgement, but love and hope.
It's the Holy Spirit's job to convict, God's job to judge, and my job to love - Billy Graham
Judging According To The Flesh
(John 8:15) You judge according to the flesh; I judge no one.
Judging according to the flesh in recent times has become one of the most destructive past times of many Christian believers. I firmly believe that God is the only person who can truly judge fairly, because He is the only one with all the facts.
Many times we look at someone and make a snap judgement about them, but we have no idea what they may have been through in life, the challenges they have faced, the tragedies that have left deep scars upon their minds and souls. However God knows, and many times through the life of Jesus Christ we see the amazing compassion He showed for those that the world had written off as being unworthy or unclean.
It seems that the people who upset Jesus the most were religious people who showed little or no compassion toward their fellow man. They had God's word but used it as a stick to beat others with, rather than show the mercy and kindness that our Saviour taught us through His own example. These are those who judge according to the flesh and forget that they too will always need God's mercy in their lives.
(Romans 2:4) Or do you despise the riches of His goodness, forbearance, and longsuffering, not knowing that the goodness of God leads you to repentance?
The Great Commission
(Matthew 28:19-20) Go therefore and make disciples of all the nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit, teaching them to observe all things that I have commanded you; and lo, I am with you always, even to the end of the age.” Amen
All of God's people have a role in this great commission of sharing His love and salvation through Christ. Each of us has a responsibility to use our God given gifts and abilities to shine Christ's light and love into the world.
But you can't skin a fish and eat it unless you first catch it! In the same way we can't teach people how to walk with God until they first receive salvation!
We can accomplish this in many ways, by simply showing kindness and smiling at a stranger, by making a meal for a sick neighbour or sharing the gospel over lunch with a work colleague.
We all have something to give and evangelism should always start in your own home, and with those you love the most. As we fall in love with Jesus more and more throughout life He begins to shine out of us, and those around us begin to wonder why we are different. God always goes ahead of us and as we grow more sensitive to the leading of the Holy Spirit, is able to direct us to those who are ready to listen to the good news of the gospel.
(Luke 5:30-32) And their scribes and the Pharisees complained against His disciples, saying, “Why do You eat and drink with tax collectors and sinners?” Jesus answered and said to them, “Those who are well have no need of a physician, but those who are sick. I have not come to call the righteous, but sinners, to repentance.”
Calling Sinners To Repentance
It's important that the modern church resembles Jesus much more than we resemble the Pharisees. The Pharisees were those who benefitted from and liked to enforce the status-quo within the Jewish religion and yet they were not spiritual enough to recognise the Messiah that they proclaimed and hoped for.
New testament believers can also fall into this inflexible state within church life when religious appearances begin to mean more to them than truly worshipping God in spirit and truth.
A heart relationship with God is only possible if we walk in humility with Him each day, and then we become qualified to also lead others to repentance, because that is how we live ourselves.
(John 4:23) But the hour is coming, and now is, when the true worshipers will worship the Father in spirit and truth; for the Father is seeking such to worship Him.
How did Jesus do it?
(Mark 12:37b) .. And the common people heard Him gladly
'The common people heard Him gladly' is a statement that every believer should meditate upon and try to understand and implement in their own lives. If we come across as weird or religious fanatics the common people will not hear us. Unbelievers are looking to see something different and special in your life before they will begin to listen to what you have to say.
People need to know how much you care, before they care how much you know!
(John 16:8) And when He has come, He will convict the world of sin, and of righteousness, and of judgment
Evangelism is hard work if you are doing it on your own without the guidance of help of the Holy Spirit. While we show God's love and care to people the Holy Spirit is talking to them Himself, convicting their conscience of sins reality, that Jesus is the answer to being saved, and of the unrelenting approach of Judgement Day.
“Trying to do the Lord's work in your own strength is the most confusing, exhausting, and tedious of all work. But when you are filled with the Holy Spirit, then the ministry of Jesus just flows out of you." - Corrie Ten Boom
Developing The Spirit of Grace Within The Church
I believe it's important that we are not only a light shining into a dark world guiding unbelievers into the kingdom of God, but that we also allow the Holy Spirit to impart to us His wisdom and grace to shepherd a new generation of believers that God will bring into the church.
It will become increasingly important that the existing believers within God's church are truly caring and accepting of these people, just as someone was caring and accepting of us when we entered God's family.
Many of these new believers may be coming out of lifestyles that 'church people' may consider strange or even bizarre, and we need to love and welcome them rather than just look and judge them.
It's important that we should never forget where we came from ourselves and that we should live a life as close to Christ's example as we possibly can
(Romans 14:12-13) So then each of us shall give account of himself to God. Therefore let us not judge one another anymore, but rather resolve this, not to put a stumbling block or a cause to fall in our brother’s way
(James 2: 8,12-13)
If you really fulfill the royal law according to the Scripture, “You shall love your neighbor as yourself,” you do well; ..So speak and so do as those who will be judged by the law of liberty. For judgment is without mercy to the one who has shown no mercy. Mercy triumphs over judgment.
You might also want to see how Jesus taught about and treated these people
The Prodigal son (Luke 15: 11-32)
The good Samaritan (Luke 10: 25-37)
The woman caught in Adultery (John 8: 1-12)
The How To: Series
You may also wish to access previous blogs in this series:
How To: Find God's Pathway in Life
How To: Keep Spiritual Oil in Your Lamp
How To: Resist Temptation Successfully
How To: Find Forgiveness and Cleansing
How To: Get Your Prayers Answered
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