Redeemed but smug!? Devotional Commentary for September 30-October 6
This is the Word of God. May the Spirit of Truth give us Wisdom and Insight to receive what has been conveyed through His Word by His Inspiration.
7For not one of us lives for himself, and not one dies for himself;
8for if we live, we live for the Lord, or if we die, we die for the Lord; therefore whether we live or die, we are the Lord's.
9For to this end Christ died and lived again, that He might be Lord both of the dead and of the living.
In the last several devotionals, we have been meditating on standing on Truth and serving in Love. Truth is our Foundation and Love fuels our Christian life. But why is that so important? Is it just for moral reasons? Morality is good, but is there something more?
In his letter to the Romans, Paul addresses the matter of Christian relationship with great emphasis. Here in chapter fourteen in particular, he confronts us about the critical spirit we hold against each other concerning what we eat. He also looks into our judgmental attitude toward one another regarding our differences in the holy days or feasts we observe. Paul speaks unequivocally that, no one should condemn a brother or sister for being different; not for what is eaten, not for what is observed because everyone is the same in the eyes of the Lord.
We belong to God. Our relationship with God is one of Creator and creature, Redeemer and redeemed, and, Father and child. We are His Blood-bought possessions. That is, each child has a direct and personal relationship with God as Creator, as Redeemer, and as Father. Therefore, whether one lives, dies, eats one thing or another, or observes one day different from other days, one does everything in the presence and under the sovereign Authority of God.
God our loving Father shed His Son's Blood for the remission of sin. So all of God's children are sinners who are equally saved by Grace. We are the same, sinners saved by Grace. We are not our own. We belong to God. Therefore, no one has the right or the authority to interfere with God's direct Authority over each child. No one can judge or condemn another for any reason. So we view each other as one for whom Jesus died instead of condemning one another for trespasses that have already been nailed to the Cross.
Because we individually belong to God, we live or die for God, not for men, for you, or for me. While we are one in Christ, we are individually accountable to God and stand before Him. Whether we are awake in this life or asleep in death, we belong to God, the Lord of all. He is the Judge over the quick and the dead.
10But you, why do you judge your brother? Or you again, why do you regard your brother with contempt? For we will all stand before the judgment seat of God.
11For it is written, "AS I LIVE, SAYS THE LORD, EVERY KNEE SHALL BOW TO ME, AND EVERY TONGUE SHALL GIVE PRAISE TO GOD."
12So then each one of us will give an account of himself to God.
13Therefore let us not judge one another anymore, but rather determine this--not to put an obstacle or a stumbling block in a brother's way.
After clearly stating the reason for the exigent behavioral and attitudinal transformation of the redeemed, Paul poses an incisive question, exposing the ungodly ways in which Christians act toward one another. He asks: Why do we judge or condemn our brothers and sisters? In other words, knowing that the redeemed belong to God, realizing that God is the only Judge, and, understanding that we shall ultimately stand before God the Almighty—the only true Judge, why do we take matter into our own hands and condemn those who are different from us? Why do we regard them with contempt? Why do we seek to usurp the Authority of God to judge?
When we are critical of other believers, we are actually showing contempt toward God Who is working out His perfect Will in all of our lives including those whom we despise. Such behavior is antithetical to the biblical exhortation, admonishing us to humbly esteem others higher than ourselves. We are accountable to God, not to our own flawed opinions or sentiments. The apostle James actually directs us to stop destroying each other with our slanderous judgments and opinions. Instead, we are taught by Jesus Himself to love each other and serve one another as He did.
The Truth is that every knee shall bow before God and every tongue shall confess Him Lord, including us and those whom we judge. There is no distinction. Everything and everyone is under God's sovereign Lordship. He saves or judges as He pleases. Each child must give an account of oneself to God. We answer to God.
But when we seek to judge others, we are actually contending against God's Authority with contempt. Who are we to interfere with God's authority or question His unsearchable Wisdom? Christian relationship is bound by the Love of Christ, not by the spirit of man's condescension or his self-righteous attitude, disregarding the Work of God's Grace in the life of a brother or a sister in Christ.
Our opinions about things, people, relationships, the world, etc. are as different as they are diverse and uncomplimentary, even as Christians. What is right? What is wrong? Should we use cosmetics; and if we do, when, where, and how much? Is it alright to dance, go to movies, keep certain holy days, eat certain foods or consume beverages of choice? The list goes on.
Even though these issues are of little importance in light of matters of greater significance, they often give rise to occasions of passing judgment on behaviors that appear different. These situations showcase our individual perspectives on issues about which we care to opine. While opinions are difficult to keep from formulating in our minds, voicing them without restraint is contrary to Christian ways.
As Christians, we recognize that God is the only true Judge over us and those whom we criticize. Therefore, we must refrain from seeking to take God's place in anyone's life including our own. Instead of destroying lives by passing unwarranted judgment, we can share corrective precepts in order to build one another in the Love of Christ.
In all that we do and say, we honor and praise the Lord Who has ushered us into His glory in Jesus Christ and for His sake. He set us free from sin's bondage. He brought us from darkness to Light and from death to Life. God gave the Son Power and authority to settle the Law on our behalf and pay the price to redeem us for God. He is beyond understanding and past finding out. He is God. We worship Him both individually and corporately, encouraging each other and strengthening our faith.
In this sacred environment of praise, we acknowledge that Christ is Lord over all, the supreme Sovereign over all that we are, and the Master over every aspect of our lives. And yet, we find ourselves judging our brothers and sisters for being different from us. We condemn the weak among us instead of building them up in the Lord.
The admonition to refrain from judging others does not preclude our responsibility to confront ungodliness whenever and wherever it occurs. However, it must be done with an attitude of love and care. It must be done without contempt, without condemnation. It must be done with the knowledge that we are judged by the same judgment we impose on others. We are called to encourage the weak among us and help the wrongdoer turn from his wicked ways.
If God loved us while we were yet sinners, and He did; we have no godly motivation to condemn anyone, especially those who are redeemed as we are. We must be loving as we are loved, caring as we are cared for, and supportive as we are lifted out of darkness into the Light of God's redeeming Grace. We stand on Truth and serve in Love because we have been made free from judgment in Christ Jesus. Jesus: what a Powerful Name, what a Beautiful Name.