2009-02-05 - The Hardest Part
Not of this World, Part 2
Like 5:3 "Which is easier, to say, 'Your sins have been forgiven you,' or to say, 'Get up and walk'? (NASB)
Learning not to judge is a very difficult thing for me to do, and this is not an easy admission for anyone to make.
In the line of work I do I must make quick decisions to determine the failure in a computer system or piece of software. By the grace of God I am good at what I do. I have been given the ability find problems and fix them quickly. It is part of my nature to be logical dividing problems in half again and again until that is left must be the solution. This is an easy skill to translate to people judging intentions and motives. When it works it can be a tremendous advantage. When it does not work it is equally, if not more so, a disadvantage. Sometimes things are pretty obvious. But people are far more complex than computers will ever be.
I am the man on the pallet. Jesus walks over to me and tells me that every wrong I have ever done has been forgiven.
The Pharisees argued that Jesus did not have the right to forgive sins. Only God could forgive sins. They were correct in this point. Anyone but God claiming the right to forgive sins was speaking blasphemy and deserved to be stoned according to the Law. Jesus' counter was to ask the question - does it matter if I say "Get up and walk" explaining the symptom of the problem, the paralysis, or if I say "your sins are forgiven" and treat the root cause of the problem? Either way Jesus was making the same claim. When the man took up his bed and walked out of the house it would have been hard to argue His claim.
I was dead in my trespasses and sins (Eph 2:1-3).
Jesus forgave me everything that day. Every moment that I would deliberately go against the commandments that my Lord has specified, and sin is always deliberate if we are honest with ourselves. Even when we start with the best of intentions there is a time when we know it is time to escape and we chose either to obey that small still voice or to keep moving like a moth to the flame. Christ forgave all of those deliberate actions - past, present and future. He had to do it. There was no other way to save me. He had to do all the work. I couldn't get up off the pallet to help myself. I didn't even want to be there. But He drew me in and broke my stubborn heart.
A fire was kindled in my heart. It was very much like that first spark that ignites the smallest tinder that smokes and glows with the hope that will turn into a warm, comforting blaze. I knew I was forgiven beyond the doubt of any dark corner of my heart or mind.
Luke 7:1 "Do not judge so that you will not be judged. 2 "For in the way you judge, you will be judged; and by your standard of measure, it will be measured to you. 3 "Why do you look at the speck that is in your brother's eye, but do not notice the log that is in your own eye? (NASB)
Who am I to judge another? Even more frightening - do I want to be judged by the same yardstick I would measure another's actions or thoughts against? The human heart is desperately wicked (Jer 17:9). My heart is human. I know it better than any of you and God knows it better than I know it myself. There have been moments in time during my walk with Jesus that He has allowed me to catch a glimpse over the edge into the abyss that is the human heart. It is a terrible thing to behold, and I believe that the Holy Spirit shields us from the worst of it. I am certain I have not seen the total depth that the human heart is capable of reaching down, and I'm not sure I could bear it even for an instant.
If that is the old man that I struggle against, how do I dare hold a measure up to judge another?
That measure can rarely be held up to another in anger. In a civil society, in spiritual or temporal matters, there are times when anger is justified, but they are more rare than we believe. Anger after September 11th of 2000 was justified. But even in similar situations it should be mingled with the knowledge that we have been forgiven a unimaginable debt ourselves. There but for the the matchless grace of Christ, go I. There are times when the failure of another is brought to light and action must be taken. There are other times when someone's motives seem so clear and our reasoning is flawed. More often than not, anger only clouds our thoughts and creates unnecessary pain.
We must be slow to anger, slow to speak and quick to hear and consider (Jam 1:18-20, Prov 16:32). Where mercy can be given it should be given (Matt 5:7). There are times when we must judge in the affairs of mankind, but we must do so with great care and clear minds.
Grace & Peace,