Posted in Ephesians, Hebrews, Matthew, Micah, Proverbs

Why We aren’t the Judge

“All the ways of a man are right in his own eyes, but the Lord weighs the motives.” Proverbs 16:2

For years growing up my brother, Jimmy and I would come home from school, eat a bowl of cereal, and watch Gilligan’s Island. From time to time the entire episode would be about something that happened on the island in the past.

Skipper would start telling about the event and all of a sudden we were back there; but it was all from Skipper’s perspective. He was in the middle; he was doing the right thing while those around him were doing questionable things.  He was the hero; that’s how he remembered it.

The episode would return to the present, and then another character would start to give their version of the story (Ginger, the professor, sometimes Mr. Howell) and in their memory they were the hero. And then finally, Gilligan would start talking about it and we’d go back a third time. Where others’ versions had Gilligan at blame, Gilligan always had himself being somewhat heroic. Yes, bad things happened but he was actually part of the solution, not the main problem. The funny thing was we were never told what actually happened – only three different perspectives of the same event.

This is why Jesus told us not to judge. (Matthew 7:1) We experience life only from our own perspective and even our own motives are often hidden from us. When we feel others have wronged us, or betrayed us, it’s important to realize that that’s probably not how they see it. Instead of believing the worst and playing judge, we’re called to believe the best and let God be the judge. Where there has been definite sin, we’re called to forgive “as God, in Christ, has forgiven us.” (Ephesians 4:32)

All things are laid bare before Him to whom we will give an account. (Hebrews 4:13) God calls us to do what’s right in His eyes: “To do justly, to love mercy, and to walk humbly with our God.” (Micah 6:8)  It’s humanly natural to have mercy for ourselves, love justice for others, and walk in the pride of being a judge, instead of submitting to God as the only one able to judge rightly. The Holy Spirit wants to help us live differently. He wants us to apply justice to ourselves while giving mercy to others. This is part of what it means to walk humbly with God.

Posted in John, Matthew, Micah

The Ground Under Your Feet

“Blessed are the merciful for they shall obtain mercy.” Matthew 5:8

I was in an informal conversation with a young pastor recently when he said, “I really struggle giving grace to church people who are not fully committed even though they know better.”

I asked if he minded me using the word “mercy” where he had used the word “grace,” and he told me to go ahead. “So here’s what you’re basically saying,” I responded. “You struggle to give mercy to those you feel don’t deserve it.” He understood where I was going. If someone “deserves” mercy it isn’t really mercy, it’s justice.

Jesus made it clear that our attitude toward others determines the ground under our own feet. If we choose to judge others than the same measure we use will be applied to us. (Matthew 7:1-4) But if we choose to be merciful toward the faults of others, we will find a wide place of mercy under our own feet as well. The merciful obtain mercy.

In Micah 6:8 God laid out clear instructions of how to please Him: “Do justly, love mercy, and walk humbly with your God.” Our natural tendency is to give mercy to ourselves, love justice for others, and to walk in self-righteousness, independent of God.

We need grace to do justly instead of making excuses for ourselves. We need grace to not only give mercy, but to love showing mercy to others.  And we need grace to simply walk humbly with God. No wonder Jesus said that the key was not us but Him in us. Apart from Him we can do nothing, but in Him we will bring forth much fruit. (John 15:5)