Criticism: Good or Bad
Matthew Chapter 7:1 says, "Judge not, that ye be not judged." I think that this verse is probably one of the most quoted Bible verses by both Christians and unbelievers as well as probably the most misunderstood or misinterpreted scripture.
In reading verses 1-6 carefully we can see that Jesus is telling the disciples that basically there are times in our Christian life that we must use good judgment, or discernment of things, about one another or situations. However, we should never use demeaning or destructive criticism or gossip, that's just plain wrong.
Passing judgement on others, such as salvation, is clearly something that we should not and cannot do. Such discernment would require us to see inside the heart of someone, their innermost thoughts, which of course we cannot do, but God can.
On down in Matthew Chapter 7 verse 20 Jesus says, "Wherefore by their fruits ye shall know them." This scripture tells us how we can identify Christian character in others; it doesn't tell us that because you see someone living a Christian life, they are saved.
Think about it this way, when we see someone working on a car we might think they are a mechanic. But they could just be the driver checking the oil, and someone who really does not know anything about auto mechanics, maybe just someone cleaning the motor. But if someone is sitting in the car while someone else is working on the car, in most cases we'd think that this person probably isn't a mechanic either, although they still could be. We can see their character, which is the outside; not the inside!
It is true that many times we can see Christian character in other Christians, or at least should be able to. James tells us in the Book of James how our works and words are tied together as Christians and are a symbol of our true relationship with Christ. We know that we don't get to Heaven by works, but we do know that we can certainly grow spiritually by seeking after righteousness and working for Christ.
We cannot judge the heart or salvation of anyone. It is possible that one may be a Christian who has drifted in his/her relationship with Him. If we judged that person either negatively or positively, solely based on their works or outward appearances, we might see their character but we can see no deeper. Frankly it isn't for us to judge. Our judgment is flawed. We are not omniscient, but God is!
I think Chapter 7 of Matthew tells us that as Christians, we need to do the best we can, short of passing judgment on anyone, to carefully discern the qualifications and character of those Christians who might be called to do His work in the Church or in other particular situations. I think verse six alludes to this.
I also think on the other hand, this scripture clearly implies that we should not be going around shouting or telling things about our brothers and sisters to others like, "old so and so did this or that and so he/she can't be saved". That would no doubt be judging someone's salvation. That would be no different than what the scribes and Pharisees were doing while Jesus was here on the Mount teaching the disciples.
Verse five tells us to cast the beam out of our own eye then we can see clearly to cast the mote out of our brother's eye.
So don't be a hypocrite. Watch out for the boomerang. It can hurt when it comes back around. Sometimes it can be devastating.
Try to avoid gossip and especially judging other salvation or being critical of others. You've heard it said, "if you can't say something good about someone, don't say anything at all." That's really some good advice for us as Christians.
When a situation you are in requires your careful discernment of a person or situation, remember to be sure to make well thought out and informed decisions. Be sure to "think before you speak." Be extra careful not to demean others, and never judge another person's salvation. Keep any related information or statements in the confidence of only those who need to know. You'll be glad you did!
What are you thankful for?
Most of us would say we are thankful for our families, those close to us, what God has given us and maybe even that God has used us for His will and glory.
I'm certainly thankful for my family as well and the things that God has given me in my life. The understanding that he gives, the wisdom he imparts, the ability he enhances and so on. I'm truly blessed, my cup runs over and over. Your cup will run over too if you will only allow Him to bless you.
You're probably saying, "allow, what are you talking about, God can bless me anytime."
There's no doubt that he certainly desires to bless each of us in many different ways. Sometimes we can actually keep Him from blessing us. We can miss out on blessings because we do not serve Him, or in some cases when we don't serve Him for the right reasons.
We should not serve Him for a reward in Heaven or for any recognition that we might get here on earth, or the stature we might gain in the community, church, or family of friends. That would be serving Him in vain. We serve God because it is our duty as a Christian to serve Him. It's what we're supposed to do, use our talents to serve Him.
I've said all that to say this, I am so thankful for God's Word! The Bible! It endures forever. It feeds us, it fills us, it is the source of our nourishment as Christians and by it we will grow or mature spiritually. I Peter 1:25 says, "But the word of the Lord endureth for ever..."
God's Word is eternal, it never changes. It might have been written nearly 2000 years ago, but it was written for us today. It's our source of inspiration, doctrine, guidance, reproof, and spiritual food.
You don't have to attend a Bible Conference debating whether or not God's Word is meant for us or applies to us today. It does, one-hundred percent of it!
Unfortunately though there are things that might creep up on us in our life that might inhibit us from getting the nutrition from the Word that we should.
1 Peter 2:1 says, "Wherefore laying aside all malice, and all guile, and hypocrisies, and envies, and all evil speakings." Just as there are diseases in our physical life that inhibit us from getting the nutrition our body needs to grow and stay healthy, the same is true for our spiritual body. Spiritually we need the nutrition of the Word, the more nutrients we get from His Word, the healthier we'll be. Unfortunately there are things in our life that might inhibit the benefit the spiritual food the Word provides.
Such things are the bad attitudes, hatred or anger, deception or disobedience, living a hypocritical life, and of course just plain sin.
The more that we study His word, the closer that we will be to Him. The healthier our spirit will become. We will grow spiritually. We're getting fed from the Word. But these inhibitors will likely keep us from studying His word, praying, serving Him, and we'll move farther way from Him. Spiritually speaking, we'll become sick, and we could even die to Him spiritually. We won't lose our salvation, but we could be as useless to Him as a physically dead person.
Have you ever known someone close to God who serves Him with all their heart who doesn't study His word? I doubt that you do. But I'm sure you and I both could list many names people who seem to be dead Christians who never open the Word of God and study it! Christians who have sin in their life will inhibit the Word from speaking to them as well.
Growing in Christ requires action on our part. Being a Christian requires action on our part. Becoming a Christian is a result of His action, sending His Son to die on the cross for our sins!
The more you study His Word, the closer you will grow to Him and then the more you will serve Him. And of course as a result, the more you'll be blessed by Him. This doesn't mean you will be without trials and tribulations in your life. Trials and tribulations will happen to all of us, the Bible tells us that. We are to count them joy, not because we have them, but because God works through them, and because we grow and mature spiritually and in our Christian walk and life as a result of them.
The closer we draw to Christ, the more Satan will work to distract us which, if successful, will inhibit us from receiving the nutrients from His Word that He intends for us to receive.
I am so thankful for the Word of God, the effect It has on us as Christians to allow us to grow and mature, the guidance and direction it gives us in our lives, and the substance or nutrients it provides, that we need as Christians.
The Lord is truly gracious! If you have tasted His Word, you know that. If you have tasted His salvation, you know that!
Stay in the Word! Study the Word! Spend time researching, praying, seeking wisdom and understanding from His Word. God, the author of our Salvation, is the author of the Bible as well, shouldn't Christians read His Book?
Some Christians might just read the Bible and say, "I've read it" and they're done. But it's more than just reading, it's studying, searching, re-reading over and over. The more you read it, the more blessed you'll be.
I can't guarantee many things, but I can guarantee you this, the more you read it, the more you will be blessed!
Allow Him to bless you, read His Word! You'll be thankful you did!
Do you ever find yourself just worrying about things. Maybe it's how the bills will be paid this month. Will I make the rent? Maybe it's a serious medical issue or test for you or a loved one or close friend. Maybe it's job or work related. Maybe it's the direction our Country is going. Truth is, there is a lot of things to worry about if we want to be a worry "wart"!
Do you know what the Bible says about worrying? It says a great deal really!
"Take therefore no thought for the morrow: for the morrow shall take thought for the things of itself. Sufficient unto the day is the evil thereof." (Matt 6:34)
Jesus doesn't want us to worry about anything. He'll supply our needs. The 23rd Psalm tells us in the first verse, "...I shall not want."
But because we are of the flesh, and we have a human mind, we worry. Often we worry because we don't have faith in God that He will supply our need, notice that I didn't say faith that He would supply our need. Our faith should be in Him! Not in exactly what He will do for us, or what we WANT Him to do for us.
We know, and have faith, that He will supply our needs, but we don't know how He will accomplish this, it isn't for us to know. It is possible that one may not be able to make the rent because He wants us to witness to someone along the way or possibly because He has put a trial in our life to help us mature spiritually, to strengthen our faith! We just don't know, and it's not for us to know.
The most interesting thing is that we cannot add a day to our life through worry. Worry doesn't help us at all. It doesn't help us accomplish the end to our worry nor does it make our need go away. Truth is, quite the opposite, we can cause ourselves a lot of physical pain and suffering through worry.
It's simple really, if we seek after his righteousness, through serving Him, then all these things will be added unto us. He'll meet our needs, on His time frame, in His way, not ours!
Matthew 6:31 says, "...take no thought..What shall we eat? or What shall we drink? or, Wherewithal shall we be clothed?"
So don't worry about it! Of course that's easier said than done. We do know however, as I mentioned earlier, and any medical professional can tell you, that worry, chronic worry, can cause serious physical and mental or emotional issues, including stress that can even lead to a premature death.
Wouldn't it be easier to lay our needs at Jesus' feet? So why worry! I challenge you to trust Him to care for your needs as a Christian. Certainly there is nothing wrong with good planning and preparations, reducing risks to ours and others health and safety, and/or having a genuine concern for others and the future; but we have to be careful not to let our anxiety overtake us.
We realize that as humans, and because our human nature, we will worry about things from time to time, but again, we need to be in control our worry and our fears. We can accomplish this control through prayer, Bible study, attending church and fellowship with other Christians, and even through pastoral counseling. This means developing a solid personal relationship with God and maintaining that relationship through service to Him. These actions will comfort us in the time of our worry as well.
The idea is to not let worry consume us; we can't often do anything physically to change the outcome of many situations, just make the best of them and learn from them as well as grow spiritually, emotionally and physically. The Bible teaches us that we will mature spiritually from the trials that are set before us.
When worry creeps up on you in your life, will you lay it at Jesus' feet and turn to Him; I know you'll be glad you did. If you're lost and have a worry about your salvation or where you might spend eternity, now is the time to accept Him (Jesus) as your personal savior.
If you'd like us to pray for you, leave us a prayer request!
Gene Davis is Pastor of Calvary Baptist Church and was saved on October 24, 1976 at the Ellsinore First Baptist Church, Ellsinore, MO. and attended Baptist Bible College in Springfield, MO. He is a USMC Veteran. He loves to share his love for Christ with anyone willing to listen.