In this day of social media, I could spend the whole day countering political baloney and theological blasphemy if it actually paid to do so. The amount of written tripe being spewed out onto the pages of Facebook and Twitter seems infinitesimal and one can barely overcome the sense of need to counter all of it. The problem is most times your counter arguments fall on deaf ears or worse yet return a vicious and vitriolic attack upon you. The Bible gives clear warning about this:
“Do not speak in the hearing of a fool, for he will despise the wisdom of your words.” (Proverbs 23:9)
How many times has this happened to you? You make what seems to be a reasonable and wise rebuttal or response and in return abuse is heaped upon you. Why is that? It is because you have spoken, or in our case written, in the hearing of a fool. I was once told that it is rude to use the term fool, but let’s use it in the Biblical context so no one assumes I’m being rude. What are the characteristics of a fool, according to the Word of God? A fool despises wisdom:
“The fear of the Lord is the beginning of knowledge, but fools despise wisdom and instruction.” (Proverbs 1:7)
Fools not only hate instruction, also known as knowledge, but they also hate to be corrected:
“‘How long, you simple ones, will you love simplicity?’ For scorners delight in their scorning, and fools hate knowledge.” (Proverbs 1:22)
Unlike the man in the Sears commercial, your dropping some knowledge on a fool is not going to be well received. And when that person will not receive the knowledge you are trying to share, you think, “Well that’s stupid!” Yes it is:
“Whoever loves instruction loves knowledge, but he who hates correction is stupid.” (Proverbs 12:1)
Bro Dave! Did you just call those who hate knowledge, stupid?! No, the Bible did…see it? I’m not trying to be rude or silly, I am (or better yet the Holy Spirit is) just trying to teach you and me that it can be in many cases a futile attempt to make some people see the truth. This does not mean we quit standing for the truth, it just means we need to be prudent with whom we share it.
Of course we can and should in general correct error, particularly within the church. Nevertheless we must careful to what we respond. We must first make sure our hearts are in right standing with God and that we are not being judgmental:
“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. Do not give what is holy to the dogs; nor cast your pearls before swine, lest they trample them under their feet, and turn and tear you in pieces.” (Matthew 7:1-6)
So where’s the balance between being judgmental and salt and light? It’s actually quite simple. If God’s Word declares it wrong, then it is wrong and our proclaiming Biblical truth is not being judgmental. However, if we are to compare ourselves to others and then cast judgment upon them, we are being judgmental. Jesus gave us a great example of this:
“Also He spoke this parable to some who trusted in themselves that they were righteous, and despised others: ‘Two men went up to the temple to pray, one a Pharisee and the other a tax collector. The Pharisee stood and prayed thus with himself, “God, I thank You that I am not like other men—extortioners, unjust, adulterers, or even as this tax collector. I fast twice a week; I give tithes of all that I possess.” And the tax collector, standing afar off, would not so much as raise his eyes to heaven, but beat his breast, saying, “God, be merciful to me a sinner!” I tell you, this man went down to his house justified rather than the other; for everyone who exalts himself will be humbled, and he who humbles himself will be exalted.’” (Luke 18:9-14)
I am quite adept at being the Pharisee in Jesus’ parable. So how do I overcome being judgmental and self-righteous? Turn it around. I need to be self-judgmental and righteous. That means I allow the Holy Spirit to have preeminence in my life and show me the areas that need to be surrendered to Him so that I can become righteous—right with God—and Christlike.
That ought to keep me busy for at least the rest of the day…
If you’re receiving these devotionals for the first time and would like to receive them on a regular basis, please email me at firstname.lastname@example.org and use “Please add to Devotional List” as the subject.
Copyright © 2012 David Jeffers