Hypocrisy: Guilty Condemning the Guilty

Today’s Scripture is Matthew 7:1-5 (NCV),

Don’t judge other people, or you will be judged. You will be judged in the same way that you judge others, and the amount you give to others will be given to you.

Why do you notice the little piece of dust in your friend’s eye, but you don’t notice the big piece of wood in your own eye? How can you say to your friend, “Let me take that little piece of dust out of your eye”? Look at yourself! You still have that big piece of wood in your own eye. You hypocrite! First take the wood out of your own eye. Then you will see clearly to take the dust out of your friend’s eye.

Today’s blog post is by Rita Bewry…

To judge” means “to condemn.” An earthly judge is given authority to condemn (pronounce judgement on) after hearing evidence in support of or against an accused.

Judgement under God’s Law is not delegated to anyone. God gave the Law, and He alone is its enforcer, because only He is uniquely qualified to judge righteously. God is without sin; He knows the facts because He is all-seeing and all-knowing; He is impartial, and He cannot be bought. Why then, does anyone on earth presume to be qualified to judge on moral issues.  All humanity has rebelled against God’s laws, and have been declared guilty before God – the guilty condemning the guilty, is hypocrisy.

We are also known to be harsh judges of people for non-moral reasons, such as outward appearance, race, culture and personal choices. This kind of judgement relies on stereotypes and other dehumanizing standards that have nothing to do with the worth of an individual. God must be particularly miffed when people-groups, as well as individuals, rather than celebrating the shared humanity of all His creatures, choose instead to be separate from, indifferent to, and belittling of others. Do we not get that God is not a boring God? That diversity is His idea?  There is work to be done. Breaking down barriers between individuals and groups must be a function of the church that is achieving God’s purposes in the world.

Although we are commanded not to judge; Jesus did not forbid His followers from making objective judgements. We are called to be discerning in order to distinguish between right and wrong and between truth and falsehood. In fact, we are encouraged to correct someone who is in error: hence Gal. 6:1Brothers and sisters, if someone in your group does something wrong, you who are spiritual should go to that person and gently help make him right again.” Of course, Christ would nudge us to pray for the revelation of our own sin and for forgiveness, before undertaking such a mission.

 

Unfair & Square

Today’s Scripture is Luke 6:27-28,

“But I say to you that listen, love your enemies, do good to those who hate you, bless those who curse you, pray for those who abuse you.”

Today’s blog post is by Olivia Reynolds, Summer Ministry Intern…

I’m a big sister, so I’ve developed a finely-tuned sense of what is and isn’t fair. Since I was the oldest, my parents usually made me wait until I’d reached a certain milestone before I got something I really wanted. For example, I couldn’t get a cell phone until I turned thirteen, even though I whined that all my friends already had phones and couldn’t I pleeeeease just have one?

I eventually received my long-awaited Motorola Razr, but I was horrified when my sister and brother (two and four years younger than me, respectively) got their own phones soon after. They didn’t have to wait like I did.  I whined again.  It just wasn’t faaaaaaair.

Sometimes the life Jesus calls us to live isn’t fair, either. Jesus’ original audience was used to Old Testament law and the retributive “eye for an eye” approach to justice. It must have seemed strange when this revolutionary rabbi told his disciples to show mercy and generosity even to their enemies. Jesus asks us to give our time, our money, and our love without expecting to be repaid.

The goal of the Christian life isn’t to get what we deserve. In fact, we’ve already received incredible grace, way beyond what we deserve! When I find myself being cynical or critical or just plain grouchy because life seems unfair, I have to be reminded that I don’t need to settle the score. God’s love for me far outweighs my complaints.

Spiritual growth isn’t about the things I achieve or the benefits that I store up for myself. It’s about becoming more like Jesus, so that the rest of the world sees grace and goodness.

Today, I’ll pray that when we’re faced with tough circumstances or difficult people, God reminds us that we’re called to a higher standard. I’ll ask that He gives us peace and strength to look beyond what’s “fair” and do what’s right.

Let’s Stay Together…

Today’s Scripture is Romans 15:5-6, 13…

“Now may the God of patience and comfort grant you to be like-minded toward one another, according to Christ Jesus, that you may with one mind and one mouth glorify the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ…Now may the God of hope fill you with all joy and peace in believing, that you may abound in hope by the power of the Holy Spirit.”

Today’s blog post is written by Olivia Reynolds, Summer Ministry Intern…

Something I love about the epistles of Paul is that he makes things personal. Usually near the end of each letter, Paul sends his love to fellow Christians, offering them reminders and blessings. It kind of reminds me of a parent sending their child off to school or camp—”Don’t forget your lunch! Remember to be polite! Have lots of fun, we’ll miss you!”

But the stakes for Paul and the early church were much higher than kindergarten or summer camp. New Christians faced persecution from the state and ostracization from their friends and neighbors. So Paul prays that God will give the Christians in Rome the gift of unity—the ability to come together as a whole, to glorify God “with one mind and one mouth.” That might sound unrealistic, and to some extent, it is—life in any community sometimes creates conflict and disagreement. But as these verses remind us, our God is the God of patience, comfort, hope, joy and peace. If we’re striving to cultivate those values in ourselves, we’re working toward the kingdom of Heaven. And it’s important that we do that together!

So let’s take a minute to reflect on our relationships. If you’re finding that there’s resentment or stubbornness in your heart against a fellow believer, use this opportunity to make things right. It’s a tough way to stretch, I know, but resolving those conflicts can be such a relief!

After all, remember that we serve the same amazing God and share the same transformative hope. That’s more important than anything that divides us.