[The Communiqué is our church’s monthly newsletter. This article appears in the March 2011 edition.]
Let me tell you a story…the story is true…it’s about a young man in high school…a young man called into the ministry…
One night this young man was asked by his sweet and wonderful girl friend if he would want to help her baby sit a young boy so that his parents could have a date night. He agreed, in spite of his reservations. You see, this guy was not particularly fond of watching little children…but, the opportunity to spend time with his girlfriend was not something to be passed up. So, after getting to the house and the parents getting on their way, the baby sitting commenced. “As expected” the little boy was a handful, one this young minister-to-be could only describe as a “little terror.” Thus commenced his running commentary on the deplorable state of this boy’s attitude and the inadequacy of the parenting taking place in that household. This commentary continued, even through the drive to return his girlfriend to her parents’ house. Upon reaching the driveway, his girlfriend had had enough. Turning to him she said, “I wish you would spend as much time and energy in finding ways to minister to this family as you have put into criticizing and running them down!” Needless to say this young man was stopped in his tracks and began looking for a way to hide under the seat of his car. He had just been served with a very significant wake up call…a serious attitude check was needed…
Yes, many of you have likely guessed it, that young high school boy is me. Rhonda can verify all the details of this sad but true story of my life.
OK, but why share this with us? I am glad you asked. I know that I am not the only one prone to this kind of judgmentalism. We’ve seen it in the Pharisees as we study the Book of Matthew, and yes, I know that it can happen in our families and our church family as well. I don’t like it in my own life and I sure don’t like hearing about it in my family and my church family either. We cannot allow ourselves the “luxury” of thinking that we have a corner on the righteous living market, and we should never try to bolster our standing by comparing ourselves to others through looking ‘down our nose’ at them to put them down. We should not find ourselves running down another brother or sister in Christ by gossiping about their children. We should never be pointing fingers at new Christians while shaking our heads because they ‘just don’t get it.’ We should never speak in derogatory, demeaning ways about the sins of others (that’s another life lesson I’ve had to learn the hard way, too). Our only standard for living…in the workplace, at school, as parents, and at church…is to compare ourselves to the holiness of Christ and the righteous standard of His word…and to encourage everyone around us to the same pursuit as well.
Wow, pastor, that’s some pretty direct and challenging stuff! Yes it is…for ALL of us, me included. If you find this hitting close to home because you are not only prone to do this but do so regularly, please consider this your ‘wake up call’ to stop it and start finding ways to minister rather than continuing on that path. If you don’t find yourself in the judgmentalist camp with the rest of us, consider this your friendly reminder to stay off that path…it brings nothing but pain to your life and the lives of too many others as well.
We turn to the Scriptures for these stout reminders and helpful words of encouragement…
Proverbs 17:9—Whoever covers an offense seeks love, but he who repeats a matter separates close friends.
1 Peter 4:8-9—Above all, keep loving one another earnestly, since love covers a multitude of sins. Show hospitality to one another without grumbling.
1 John 4:7—Beloved, let us love one another, for love is from God, and whoever loves has been born of God and knows God.
Hebrews 10:24—And let us consider how to stir up one another to love and good works.
God is Good…All the time! GOCBC!