Sunday, September 14, 2014

Earning Respect

     "We must need to tell it like it is and let the chips fall where they may.  Sin is sin and you have better stop it."
     This kind of approach demonstrates a great lack of understanding concerning human nature. Condemnation almost always solicits self-defense.  Most people will naturally respond to censor with resistance.  On the other hand, most people naturally tend to respect and admire those by whom they feel loved and accepted, and within that context are receptive to counsel and even reproof.  We earn the right to offer correction by earning respect.
     Paul is clear.  It is the revelation of God's good and loving character that generates repentance in the human heart.  When we understand this fundamental reality, we will find ourselves more inclined to uplift the cross of Jesus than to point out sin.
    3.  We condemn others when we are blind to our own need for God's mercy.
     This is why it was so easy for the Pharisees to condemn the woman caught in adultery.  They didn't realize that her sin was no more sinful than their own.  But when Jesus wrote out their transgressions on the ground they fled away in shame; see John 8:1-11.
     Like the Pharisees, we are often quick to demand the execution of justice because we don't  see our own need of mercy.  None are so quick to condemn as those who are caught in the snare of spiritual pride, but those who recognize their own soul poverty will be slow to judge others.
   So inseparable is God's forgiveness of us from our forgiveness of others that Jesus said, "If you forgive men their trespasses your heavenly Father will also forgive you.  But if you do not forgive men their trespasses, neither will your Father forgive your trespasses."  Matthew 6:14,15.  
     There is no greater evidence that God's love has penetrated the heart than a willingness to allow His love, through us, to "cover a multitude of sins" in others.  1 Peter 4:8.
     Conversely, there is no greater proof that a person is not abiding under the conscious reality of God's  forgiveness than a disposition to find and condemn the faults of others.  The greatest privilege and responsibility of one who is forgiven is to forgive.
     4.  We condemn others when we view salvation as something we earn by doing good.
     They say, misery loves company.  I think they are right, whoever they  are.  When we obey God's requirement merely out of a sense of obligation in order to be saved, we find no real joy in our religious experience.  We do what we have to do because we have to do it, not because we really want to.  And, in all honesty, we want others to share the grueling burden we bear.
     If I feel obligated, you had better feel obligated too.  If I can't do this or that without feeling guilty, you had better not either.  If you do, I'll be more than happy to let you know that you're not towing the line.
     The Pharisees had this problem.  They carried themselves with an atmosphere that reminded everyone that they alone were righteous.  They were always defining for others what they should and should not do.  Always miserable, but always right.

     (I hope I don't fall under the title 'Pharisee'.  I know for a fact that I have been there but hope to never stoop that low again.  I want people to respect me for my Christian beliefs and not feel that I think that I am holier  than they are.  Pray for me and I will pray for you.  Grandma Joan.)

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