Last week we talked about diversity without division. It's sad to see the world we live in becoming so polarized. Obviously, Paul observed the same thing happening in his world. He had never been to Rome, but he had had many reports from Rome about the conditions in the church there. There was a conflict in the church over whether to eat meat or not. Now, we find that there was disagreement with regard to observing certain days. Paul, inspired by the Holy Spirit, urges the church to accept all sides as brothers in the Lord. We will all give an account for ourselves to the Lord. That being true, we should not pass judgment on one another.
In our day, as in and theirs, there is a dispute over Saturday as the Sabbath. First, let me say that Saturday is the Sabbath. Sunday is the Lord's day! Saturday memorializes the old creation that fell, along with Adam and Eve when they rebelled against God.
Sunday is the first day of the week and as such memorializes the resurrection of Jesus Christ from the dead. Jesus rose from the dead on the first day of the week. Jesus appeared to the disciples on the first day of the week Jesus appeared inside the room to the eleven disciples eight days after the first day of the week. The Jewish way of measuring days meant that it was again Sunday. The Holy Spirit came on Pentecost, the first day of the week. The first sermon was preached by Peter on the first day of the week. Three thousand converts joined the church on the first day of the week. The three thousand were baptized on the first day of the week. The Christians assembled and broke bread on the first day of the week. The Christians at Troas also heard a message from Paul on the first day of the week. Paul instructed the churches to put aside contributions on the first day of the week. Jesus gave the apostle John the vision of Revelation on the first day of the week.
You can see from this list that I am convinced that the first day of the week — Sunday — is the proper day for Christian worship. I don't believe Sunday is a required day of rest but it should be put aside for worship and service to God. We must remember that no matter how convinced we are we must not be critical of those who disagree. We are to…
Jesus gave that command. Listen while I read Matthew 7:1-5, “Judge not, that you be not judged. For with the judgment you pronounce you will be judged, and with the measure you use it will be measured to you. Why do you see the speck that is in your brother's eye, but do not notice the log that is in your own eye? Or how can you say to your brother, ‘Let me take the speck out of your eye,’ when there is the log in your own eye? You hypocrite, first take the log out of your own eye, and then you will see clearly to take the speck out of your brother's eye.…"
Jesus very clearly said, "Judge not, that you be not judged." He was not talking about an observation made about something happening in another person's life. He was talking about being judgmental. Attributing an inner motive to a person is something we should not, and in reality cannot, do. I can only know what I see with my eyes and hear with my ears. We must remember, "There but for the grace of God go I". There must've been some real chuckles in Jesus' crowd when they heard him give the comparison of trying to pick the speck out of your brother's eye while having a log in your own. Obviously it's not possible to have a real log in your eye but our fault could be as large as a log compared to a speck.
So we are to first put our own house in order before trying to correct another. Not only did Jesus make this statement, or command, but…
James restated the command. Listen while I read James 5:9, Do not grumble against one another, brothers, so that you may not be judged; behold, the Judge is standing at the door.
I think it's interesting that James uses the term "grumble" instead of "judge". But he completes his statement the same as Jesus did, "so that you may not be judged". And then James adds to Jesus' command, "behold, the Judge is standing at the door." We will see in a few moments that we have no right to judge others because the only true judge is God himself. What we say is affected by how we say it and what our body language is. You see, our…
Attitude is very important. The way we present ourselves and our tone of voice is a great deal to do with whether we are being judgmental or not. One problem that we have, when it is absolutely necessary to correct another brother, is that we wait until the pressure builds to a point that we can't hold it back. Then we explode, or at least our voice rises and perhaps breaks a little. Then, what could have been good advice becomes a stern lecture that causes the recipient to become defensive. The response often causes the counselor to become more judgmental. It is very important that we be convinced in our own mind concerning matters of disagreement. However, it is possible to disagree agreeably. Our attitude in correcting a brother or sister in the Lord must always be carefully measured. We must…
Be fully convinced but not critical.
In everything we are to honor God. Let's look at what Paul said to the Corinthian church in 1 Corinthians 10:28-33, But if someone says to you, “This has been offered in sacrifice,” then do not eat it, for the sake of the one who informed you, and for the sake of conscience— I do not mean your conscience, but his. For why should my liberty be determined by someone else's conscience? If I partake with thankfulness, why am I denounced because of that for which I give thanks? So, whether you eat or drink, or whatever you do, do all to the glory of God. Give no offense to Jews or to Greeks or to the church of God, just as I try to please everyone in everything I do, not seeking my own advantage, but that of many, that they may be saved.
Now we're back to the subject of meat. This passage makes it clearer than our Romans' passage. In first century Corinth, apparently, meat sold in the marketplace might have been offered in sacrifice to a pagan idol. Paul instructs the church to take a, "don't ask, don't tell" attitude. However, if someone points out that the meat was offered in sacrifice to a pagan idol then they are instructed not to eat it. Not because it would have any effect on the eater but because it might be construed by the person who pointed out the origin of the meat as honoring the pagan idol and his conscience be affected.
Earlier, in First Corinthians Paul had said that he was free to do as he chose but, in the hopes of winning others to the gospel, he would submit himself to others. To the Jews, he lived like a Jew in order to win Jews. If they were bound by the law, he would submit himself to it so that he could win those who were bound by the law, etc.. He said that he became all things to all men, that by all means he might win some.
Now he tells us that whatever we do we are to do it to the glory of God and we are to make every effort to offend no one unnecessarily for the sake of the gospel. We are to approach everything…
With Christ's mind. It is important that we agree, not so much with each other, but with Christ. Listen while I read the magnificent words Paul wrote in Philippians 2:1-8, So if there is any encouragement in Christ, any comfort from love, any participation in the Spirit, any affection and sympathy, complete my joy by being of the same mind, having the same love, being in full accord and of one mind. Do nothing from rivalry or conceit, but in humility count others more significant than yourselves. Let each of you look not only to his own interests, but also to the interests of others. Have this mind among yourselves, which is yours in Christ Jesus, who, though he was in the form of God, did not count equality with God a thing to be grasped, but made himself nothing, taking the form of a servant, being born in the likeness of men. And being found in human form, he humbled himself by becoming obedient to the point of death, even death on a cross.
We are to be in agreement with the mind of Christ. Disagreement with our brother or sister in the Lord always leads to inner turmoil on both sides. That may well be the way the world operates but it should not be the way the church operates. We are continually instructed in Scripture to love one another, to support and encourage one another and to strengthen one another.
Jesus humbled himself by becoming a man, walking on earth among men, bearing our sins on the cross and being buried. The consequence of that, praise God, is that he was raised from the dead giving us victory over death and hell when we put our faith in him.
If he could humble himself in that way then we certainly can humble ourselves before those we disagree with. We have a responsibility to carry the gospel that is much more important than winning the argument. We need to have the mind of Christ …
And His attitude. Let me show you three examples from the gospel of Matthew first: Matthew 9:36, Jesus had been traveling around the country and had been teaching, proclaiming the gospel and healing the sick. Then, When he saw the crowds, he had compassion for them, because they were harassed and helpless, like sheep without a shepherd.
We have a picture of the creator of the universe walking among men looking at their condition seeing that they were like sheep without a shepherd, harassed and helpless. Instead of looking upon them with a superior attitude of disgust he felt compassion for them. Sometimes we might hear someone say, "I feel your pain", and sometimes they really mean it. But sometimes it's just something to say. Jesus really felt the pain of the people.
Jesus could hardly escape the people as he traveled. In Matthew 14:14, we find him traveling by boat only to have the crowds hurry around the shore to meet him when he arrived. Matthew tells us, When he went ashore he saw a great crowd, and he had compassion on them and healed their sick.
Again we find Jesus confronted by many needs. Instead of throwing up his hands and saying, "I can't get away from them!", He had compassion on them and healed the sick.
Another time, recorded by Matthew is found in chapter 15 verse 32. Again he had been teaching and healing and a great crowd had gathered. He called his disciples to him and said, “I have compassion on the crowd because they have been with me now three days and have nothing to eat. And I am unwilling to send them away hungry, lest they faint on the way.”
Then he sat them down, took seven loaves of bread and a few small fish and fed 4000 men besides women and children. Jesus had compassion on the crowd! How much more today does he have compassion on a world of 7 billion people many of whom have never heard the gospel of the Lord Jesus Christ. And at the same time they are harassed and helpless, hungry, sick and tired.
We need to be fully convinced of our position but we are to have a non-critical attitude. That is the example given to us by Jesus. Too often Christians spend their time grumbling at one another while the world literally is going to hell! We must remember that…
Judgment belongs to God.
Jesus, as man, deferred to the Father. I give you two examples from the gospel John. First, John 5:30, here Jesus has been teaching his disciples about the authority he has as the son of God. Listen while I read, “I can do nothing on my own. As I hear, I judge, and my judgment is just, because I seek not my own will but the will of him who sent me. …"
Jesus had just before this said that ultimately judgment will be in his hands. He is to be treated with the same honor as we treat the Father. Yet, while he was on earth, he clearly states (at least twice) that he could do nothing on his own. He can only do the will of the one who sent him. He deferred judgment to the Father while he was on earth. We must have the same attitude as Jesus did. We must defer judgment to God.
A little while later Jesus, knowing that he was near the end, continued to teach his disciples. Listen while I read from…
John 12:47-49, If anyone hears my words and does not keep them, I do not judge him; for I did not come to judge the world but to save the world. The one who rejects me and does not receive my words has a judge; the word that I have spoken will judge him on the last day. For I have not spoken on my own authority, but the Father who sent me has himself given me a commandment—what to say and what to speak.
Jesus very clearly taught that he did not come to judge but to save. While he was on earth he deferred all judgment to the Father.
There is coming a time when he will return to judge. But while he was on earth that was not his purpose. Folks, if it wasn't Jesus' purpose to judge, it certainly isn't our purpose to judge one another.
Remember, Each of us will answer to God. Listen while I read from the last book of the Bible, Revelation 20:11-15 Then I saw a great white throne and him who was seated on it. From his presence earth and sky fled away, and no place was found for them. And I saw the dead, great and small, standing before the throne, and books were opened. Then another book was opened, which is the book of life. And the dead were judged by what was written in the books, according to what they had done. And the sea gave up the dead who were in it, Death and Hades gave up the dead who were in them, and they were judged, each one of them, according to what they had done. Then Death and Hades were thrown into the lake of fire. This is the second death, the lake of fire. And if anyone's name was not found written in the book of life, he was thrown into the lake of fire.
"Books were opened". There are books in the world to come that will be the source of judgment. In the vision that John saw everyone was brought before a great white throne. Everyone was judged by what was written in the books! Folks, if we are to be judged by what is written in the books we are in a lot of trouble! You see Scripture leaves no room for debate. All have sinned and come short of the glory of God, and, the wages of sin is death! When the books are opened our condemnation would be sure except for one thing. There is "another book" called the book of life. Praise God! He has another book! This book is mentioned at least twice before in Revelation as having been written before the foundation of the world. God knew who would be his before he created the earth. He wrote their names in a book to be opened at the end of the age!
Jesus told a parable about a man who planted good seed and afterward an enemy sowed weed seed in the same field. When the weeds came up along with the wheat the field hands wanted to know if they should try to pull the weeds up. The master said that they should not because the division would be made at the harvest. The field is the world. The good seed are God's people and the weeds are planted by the enemy. Judgment will come at the end of the age — the harvest! Are you ready for the harvest? If not come to Jesus for salvation. If you feel a desire to be saved from the judgment to come he will not turn you away!
We're not to judge. We are to be fully convinced but not critical because judgment belongs to God.
It is an easy matter to slip into a critical attitude. In fact it is very common among Christians to be critical of one another. It seems as though, having become convinced of a particular position, we believe that everyone must agree with us. Remember on the playground as a child how important it was for the other kid to agree with you. It was as though their disagreement somehow made our whole idea come into question. And so the argument usually devolved into, "Did so", "Did Not", "Did so", "Did Not", etc.. Well, our attitude should be the same as that of the apostle Paul, "Having become a man I put away childish things." Let's encourage one another to grow up and be mature in the faith. The most important thing is Jesus Christ and him crucified, buried and raised again! Have you put your trust in him? Has he called you?
All scripture quotes from:The Holy Bible : English standard version. 2001. Wheaton: Standard Bible Society.