I can’t believe that Cassandra is wearing that…it’s so low and short! This is two weeks in a row that the Smiths have missed church. Wow, he really drives fast…that kinda contradicts the Jesus fish on his tailgate. Hey, that couple over there…don’t they go to First Baptist, and they never prayed before their meal.
Have you ever done that kinda thing? Me too. You know what happens sometimes when we do that? We sometimes think, I may be bad, but I’m not as bad as so-and-so. I think that’s one of the reasons that some of us enjoy watching some really goofy reality shows. We may think those people are really nuts…they are so wacko…they are depraved. Hey, I don’t do that so Jesus must be so much more pleased with me. There was a Pharisee who did this kinda thing with a tax collector. And the Pharisee got the thumbs down and the tax collector got the thumbs up because he cried out for God’s mercy. Luke 18 says he went home justified.
But sometimes the pendulum swings in the opposite direction. If there’s one section of Scripture that unbelievers and believers know, is this: “Don’t judge.” But if you do a little spade work you’ll find out that that phrase doesn’t stand on it’s own.
We often have the bar higher for others and may wrongly judge motives and attitudes that cause them to do something or not do something. We don’t know people’s motives, we only see actions. We’re warned in Matthew 7 that the bar that we set high for others is going to be high for ourselves in God’s sight.
But then the text gets into saw dust and two-by-fours. It’s tough to see a piece of saw dust in someone else’s eye on a normal day but if you’ve got a two-by-four in your own eye, good luck. You can’t see well with a plank hanging out of your own eye.
So we’re told to do self-assessment. Wow. We are to humble and grieve and repent over the sin in the mirror. It should rock us. It should stun us. It should cause us to cry out for forgiveness and grace.
And then and only then are we to come alongside a bro…not at them. When we start to see our own sin for what it is we will be more compassionate and a little more tender to our brothers and sisters when they sin. We weren’t meant to grow in Christlikeness outside of the community of the faith…and that’s another blog for another time.
We live is a church world that often doesn’t like to confront sin. We expect them to work it out on their own or we accept their sin and don’t say anything. Or we do the opposite. We come at a guy or gal a hundred miles an hour with a running clothesline. (For those of you scratching your head, it’s a wrestling move that will knock you on your can in under a nano-second). So you hammer them and leave them bleeding and bruised and battered and run off after they’ve been confronted.
When Paul wrote to the Thessalonians he said this: So, being affectionately desirous of you, we were ready to share with you not only the gospel of God but also our own selves, because you had become very dear to us. (1 Thessalonians 2:8 ESV)
They shared the gospel, very, very important…foundational…most important…but Paul didn’t stop there. He shared his life…the text says our own selves. It is so much easier to receive the truth when we know the person. It’s hard to receive the truth from a guy or gal at church who we hardly know who take the hit and run approach. One time my wife received a lengthly, nasty letter that was signed ‘in Christian love’ from someone she barely knew. Whatever. But someone who has walked with us through the good times and bad, we are likely going to be more receptive. I have received a rebuke or two from someone I knew loves me. And he had the good of my soul and the glory of God on his radar.
So, please get to know the people in your church body. Have them over for lunch. Babysits their kids. Hang with them after prayer meeting and Bible study. Linger with them in conversation after church. Hey, even camp with them this summer. Talk with them beyond the weather and sports and kids. Talk with them about Jesus and the Word. These are the kinds of people that we know love us and care for us and they are family. These are the kinds of people who are more receptive when we get our humble on and have the conversation about their sin. We risk when we do that. Sometimes they don’t receive it well right away but later on they might. Christians were meant to mature together in the body. Let’s risk it and have the conversation for the good of our friend and the glory of God. And let’s be just as receptive when they come to us.