One of my greatest challenges as a Christian is being judgmental. At times it seems like there is a fine line between standing on the word of God and casting my personal judgments upon another. If I am going to be a dispenser of grace, I have to take into account the dual nature of a Christian. This does not mean that I excuse sin, but I should not be quick to judge a person as lost because of their behavior. As my pastor says, “Sometimes are beliefs don’t match our behavior.”
Pastor Dennis was talking of the time when David pretended to be insane in the land of Gath, the home of Goliath. Saul had been pursuing David to kill him out of jealousy and David fearfully fled to enemy territory instead of relying on God to protect him. This is why in his later years David could write:
“I will behave wisely in a perfect way. Oh, when will You come to me? I will walk within my house with a perfect heart.” (Psalm 101:2)
When we see a person who is a self-professing Christian acting in a carnal way, many times we assume that person isn’t saved. We believe that no real Christian would act in such a way. Some of the most mean-spirited emails have come to my inbox from people casting judgment upon another brother or sister because they have sinned in some way. Unfortunately, I have been guilty of sending such emails, or at least responding in kind.
I need to come alongside a person who is living in sin and help them to see their need for repentance, not cast doubt on their salvation. I should ask them if everything is okay instead of asking them how they could act in such a way if they are a Christian. Even the Apostle Paul, the great church planter, struggled with sinful behavior:
“For the good that I will to do, I do not do; but the evil I will not to do, that I practice. Now if I do what I will not to do, it is no longer I who do it, but sin that dwells in me.” (Romans 7:19-20)
Paul makes a revelatory statement I think many critical Christians forget: that sin dwells in me. You see dear brothers and sisters; we are nothing but sinners saved by grace. You may be thinking; Brother Dave we already know this. Yes, we may know this, but do we act like we know this? Do we love like we know this?
The Apostle Paul writes that the greatest gift a Christian can receive and give is love. A passage written by Paul that is beautifully used in many weddings (it was read at mine), was actually meant as instruction for how the church was to conduct itself:
“Love suffers long and is kind; love does not envy; love does not parade itself, is not puffed up; does not behave rudely, does not seek its own, is not provoked, thinks no evil; does not rejoice in iniquity, but rejoices in the truth; bears all things, believes all things, hopes all things, endures all things.” (1 Corinthians 13:4-7)
It delights Satan when we attack each other with judgmental and self-righteous condemnation at one another because of some waywardness. We use our biblical knowledge as a sledgehammer to convict a brother or sister as actually lost, when in reality we do not really know who truly is saved.
I know the Word tells us that we will know them by their fruit. How many “Christians” have you seen come to Christ after having served faithfully in the church, all the while everyone, including him or her, believed the servant was saved? I know of at least three from my church. James cautions us against responding with the wrong heart:
“Who is wise and understanding among you? Let him show by good conduct that his works are done in the meekness of wisdom. But if you have bitter envy and self-seeking in your hearts, do not boast and lie against the truth. This wisdom does not descend from above, but is earthly, sensual, demonic.” (James 3:13-15)
Some of you may get upset with what I’ve written and reply to me that I am just accepting bad behavior. Save us both the trouble and instead of writing me, ask yourself why you’re getting so upset. Remember, you’re eavesdropping on what God speaks to my heart.
Sometimes our behavior betrays our beliefs. This doesn’t mean we accept the bad behavior. It means we love our brother and sister back to good behavior in Christ.
Why should we do this?
We should do this because the greatest gift we can give is love.
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Copyright © 2016 David Jeffers