Friday, 23 September 2011
Judge Not

Of all the people with television ministries, I would have to say that my favorite is Joyce Meyer. Actually, she is the only one I watch anymore. I like her down to earth, tell it like it is personality. I like how she sticks to the Word and always gives God all the glory. I like her so much that I “liked” her on Facebook. What I didn’t realize is that when I “liked” her, it meant that I would start getting messages from her. They don’t seem to come on any particular schedule – at least not one that I have noticed yet. They just seem to show up now and then, and they always seem to be exactly what I need to hear at the time.

That was the case when I was studying and thinking about what to write for the blog. I knew that the topic would be judgment and I had some scriptures and thoughts about it, but I couldn’t seem to pull it together. Later, when I was on Facebook, I saw that I had a new post from Joyce. This is what she said: “Judging people is a fruit of not loving people.”

As Christians, we all want to bear good fruit. We want to have those fruits of the spirit listed in Galatians 5: love, joy, peace, longsuffering, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness, self-control. I had never really thought about having bad fruit. I guess that would be things like bitterness, hate, racism, self-centeredness, gossiping and being judgmental. Judging people, when it is not our place and when it is by our own standards, is what grows out of not loving people. If we truly loved them, we would not judge them.

Exodus 2:13-15
And when he went out the second day, behold, two Hebrew men were fighting, and he said to the one who did the wrong, “Why are you striking your companion?” Then he said, “Who made you a prince and a judge over us? Do you intend to kill me as you killed the Egyptian?” So Moses feared and said, “Surely this thing is known!”

We’ve heard people say, “Who died and made you king?” when someone has gotten a little too bossy or judgmental. That’s pretty much what this Hebrew man was saying to Moses. It was hypocritical of Moses to judge this man considering he was himself a murderer, having killed the Egyptian. Later, God would promote Moses into a position where he would serve as a judge of the people. Exodus 18:13 says, “And so it was, on the next day, that Moses sat to judge the people; and the people stood before Moses from morning until evening.” In fact, Moses spent so much time judging the people, he couldn’t get anything else done. Fortunately he had a very wise father-in-law, Jethro, who showed him that he would be better served by appointing qualified men to serve as judges for the people. (You can read more about it in Exodus 18. It is a good lesson for someone who has taken on too much responsibility.)

John 7:24
Do not judge according to appearance, but judge with righteous judgment.

There is a big difference between being a judge and judging someone. A true judge is someone with position and authority. The dictionary defines judge – the noun – as: 1. a public officer authorized to hear and decide cases in a court of law; a magistrate charged with the administration of justice; 2. a person appointed to decide in any competition, contest, or matter at issue; authorized arbiter; 3. a person qualified to pass a critical judgment. So unless you have been elected or appointed to serve as a judge in some official capacity, it is not your responsibility to judge others. But we are human, and by our nature we tend to be judgmental. To judge others – the verb – means to form a judgment or opinion of; decide upon critically; to infer, think, or hold as an opinion; conclude about or assess. Most of our judgments are superficial, based on what we casually observe. Judgmental thoughts or statements should make you cringe. She’s a loser. He is a deadbeat. They are trashy people. She thinks she is better than everyone else. He’ll never amount to anything.

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.

So how do we overcome our judgmental ways? By loving people. If judging people is the fruit of not loving people, then loving people is the way to get rid of that bad fruit. Loving people means seeing past their present circumstances of who they are now and seeing them how Christ sees them, as who they can be – saved and spirit-filled and doing the works and will of God. It is His will that none should perish. That’s what the Word says. Wisdom will tell you, “That guy is a drug dealer or is an alcoholic.” Judgment will say, “That guy is a loser and bad news and is going to Hell.” Love says, “That guy needs God in is his life. I am going to pray for him.”

John 12:46-48
I have come as a light into the world, that whoever believes in Me should not abide in darkness. And if anyone hears My words and does not believe, I do not judge him; for I did not come to judge the world but to save the world. He who rejects Me, and does not receive My words, has that which judges him—the word that I have spoken will judge him in the last day.

Judgment causes us to write people off. It is an unrighteous judgment because it isn’t our place and it isn’t within our realm of authority. We have to stop writing people off. They need God and it is our job to point the way. We need to be like those guys with the signs that say $5 pizzas hot and ready, turn here. We need to be a light for those who don’t know God. We should be walking billboards that say, “Salvation – no charge, the price has already been paid. Turn here for redemption and freedom! This offer is good for eternity!” In the above scriptures from John 12, Jesus says that He didn’t come to judge world, but to save the world. If you are being judgmental then you are not being like Jesus. We will all be judged by the Word of God one day, each according to their works (Revelation 20). When you are showing people the way of salvation, then you are being Christ-like.

Luke 6:36-38
Therefore be merciful, just as your Father also is merciful. “Judge not, and you shall not be judged. Condemn not, and you shall not be condemned. Forgive, and you will be forgiven. Give, and it will be given to you: good measure, pressed down, shaken together, and running over will be put into your bosom. For with the same measure that you use, it will be measured back to you.”

The principal of getting what you give, or reaping what you sow, is a sound one. If you want mercy, be merciful. If you don’t want to be judged unfairly, then don’t judge others. If you want forgiveness, you have to be forgiving. If have a need, then give and you’ll get it back -- multiplied. Remember that you were once among the unsaved. What if someone had written you off because you were a loser, or a deadbeat, or an alcoholic, or a druggie, or just a lost soul with no direction or purpose in life? Thank God that He doesn’t give up on us. He has made a way for all to come to repentance. Be glad that man isn’t your judge.

1 Corinthians 11
For if we would judge ourselves, we would not be judged. But when we are judged, we are chastened by the Lord, that we may not be condemned with the world.

The best judging we can do is to judge ourselves. We need to do a daily check to make sure that our hearts and mind and behavior all line up with what we believe and what we know of God’s word. Self-correction is always less painful. Don’t write yourself off, either, when you make a mistake. We have a merciful, forgiving, loving God.

If you find yourself thinking or speaking judgmentally about another person or persons, then self-correct. Stop yourself and say, “I am going to pray for that person.” Or ask yourself if there is anything you can do to help that person. Sometimes you can’t and all you can do is pray. But isn’t that better than writing them off and condemning them? For with the same measure that you use, it will be measured back to you. Nobody died and made you king. Jesus died so that we might all be saved. He is the King of kings and our Lord of lords. He loves people and we should love them the way He does. Then we’ll see the good fruit grow in our lives and be a blessing, not a curse, in the lives of others.

Posted on 09/23/2011 7:05 AM by Susan Nelson
Friday, 9 September 2011
Here Comes the Bride

They had a “back to school” dance last week at the elementary school where I work. I’m not sure how much actual dancing gets done, but I think it doesn’t matter. The kids just have fun being with their friends and listening to the music. We didn’t have dances in elementary school when I was a kid. The first dance I remember going to was in eighth grade. This was in the disco era, so we were doing “The Hustle” and I think another dance was called “the bus stop”. It was a lot of fun, until the DJ decided to play a slow song.

I was an awkward 14-year old then and new to the school. The slow song was my signal to go to the bathroom or hide out near the refreshment table, because I knew no one was going to ask me to dance. As the year progressed and I got to know more people, I would be occasionally asked to dance a slow dance. I was a pretty good dancer when it came to faster paced music, but I had two left feet when it came to slow dancing. My biggest problem was (and still is) that I tried to lead and I could never relax and enjoy the dance. Though I was excited to be asked, I couldn’t wait for the song to be over.

A few Sundays ago, I danced the most graceful, beautiful, and enjoyable dance. It was more like a waltz than the body-hugging sway of my junior high days. Picture Belle and the Beast from the Disney film. For once, I didn’t want it to end. For once, I wasn’t trying to lead but was allowing myself to be transported and twirled around the floor, almost like we were floating on air. I was dressed in a beautiful white lace wedding gown with a long train, which I held fan-like in one hand. My partner was dressed in a black tuxedo with tails. I couldn’t see his face, but I felt his presence – strong and commanding. I felt safe, secure and loved, which only added to the enjoyment of the dance.

I wouldn’t say that this happened all in my head, but rather in my spirit. It was during the Praise and Worship portion of our service at church. We had some soft music playing and some people were being prayed for at the altar. While this was going on, I found myself swaying to the music and quietly talking with God – trying to put away all other thoughts and cares and focus on Him. It was then that I had this vision of myself as a bride dancing with the bridegroom. It probably lasted only a few seconds, though it felt longer, and when I opened my eyes, I heard “here comes the bride.” And I felt such a peace and wonder and excitement.

Isaiah 62:5
For as a young man marrieth a virgin, so shall thy sons marry thee: and as the bridegroom rejoiceth over the bride, so shall thy God rejoice over thee.

We need to remember that the Church is the bride of Christ. I am not talking about my church or your church, but The Church – the whole body of believers worldwide. We can break into all the little denominations we want, but God sees us all as The Church. In an earlier article (“A Better Place”, 3-18-11), I wrote about the Jewish wedding customs and how they were a pattern for the relationship between Christ and the church. The bride and bridegroom imagery is used throughout scripture. Jesus is the Bridegroom, and He is waiting for the Father to tell Him when it is time to return and claim His bride. In the meantime, He has prepared a place for us to be with Him in Heaven. As the bride, we are to be preparing ourselves and to be ready for when the day comes, because no one knows the day or the hour (Matthew 24:6).

Matthew 25:10-12
And while they went to buy, the bridegroom came, and those who were ready went in with him to the wedding; and the door was shut. “Afterward the other virgins came also, saying, ‘Lord, Lord, open to us!’ But he answered and said, ‘Assuredly, I say to you, I do not know you.’

Matthew 25 tells the story of the 5 wise and the 5 foolish virgins. When the call came that the bridegroom was coming, the foolish ones didn’t have enough oil in their lamps and had to run out and buy some. They weren’t ready when He came and He didn’t wait around for them to get back from the store. He left with the wise that were ready. The question I have to ask myself, and that each of us should ask ourselves, is this: am I among the wise or the foolish? If today were the day that Jesus comes back for His bride, would I be going to the marriage supper or would I be left behind?

When you are at a wedding and hear the music to, “Here Comes the Bride”, you know that the marriage is about to take place. Many people are pointing to the signs that indicate that the time of Jesus’ return is drawing near. It could be today or still be many years off – again, no man knows the day or hour. But certainly, it is drawing closer. We shouldn’t focus so much about when, but about how we are conducting ourselves until that day comes. Are we living the life that God has called us to? Are we sharing the Good News with the unsaved?

One of my favorite parts of a wedding is the reception – especially if it is a dinner/dance event. The reception usually kicks off with an introduction of the bridal party, followed by the wedded couple’s first dance as husband and wife. Then the party begins! We shouldn’t look at the coming of Jesus as an end, but the beginning of a never-ending celebration of our life with Him. As Christians, our ultimate goal is to spend eternity with Him. So make sure you have yourself ready and keep your dancing shoes on! You never know when you will hear “Behold, the bridegroom cometh; go ye out to meet him,” and you certainly don’t want to be late for your own wedding.

Posted on 09/09/2011 5:10 AM by Susan Nelson
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