Saturday, July 2, 2016

You Be the Judge

Do not judge, and you will not be judged. Do not condemn, and you will not be condemned. Forgive, and you will be forgiven.

-- Luke 6:37

Have you ever been accused of intolerance?

If you're a Christ-follower who's open about your faith, then you probably have--or soon will be. Just turn on the TV or surf the Web for a while. You won't have to look hard to find articles or videos featuring Hollywood celebrities or "open-minded" journalists who point their fingers and use the dreaded "I-word" against Christians.

But depending on the situation, is intolerance always such a bad thing? Many see Christ-followers--and Christianity in general--as very intolerant and holier-than-thou. For example, Jesus identified himself as the exclusive path to God:

"I am the way and the truth and the life," he says. "No
one comes to the Father except through me."

This bold proclamation defies today's Gavel2all-inclusive, politically-correct atmosphere. After all, it hurts people's feelings and suggests that some faiths are better than others. But mankind's demands for fairness and open-mindedness are irrelevant. Jesus has no tolerance for false, second-rate gods and allegiances.

As Christ-followers, we have open access to God's truth through the Bible, prayer and even wise counsel from fellow Believers. We should therefore have less trouble than others with telling right from wrong and good from evil, and living our lives accordingly. But actually doing so is another matter. And this opens us up--and often rightfully so--to charges of self-righteousness and hypocrisy. That's because the world is not only watching us, it's comparing our Sunday-morning words to our Monday-through-Saturday deeds.

When we point our finger at someone else, our other four fingers point back at us. We therefore should look closely in the mirror before accusing others. Are our own words, thoughts and actions beyond reproach? Jesus was right on the mark when he said we must remove the plank from our own eye before removing the speck from our neighbor's eye. We also must consider the person in need of guidance. Is he or she already a fellow Christ-follower? Or is the so-called "sinner" someone who never signed up for Jesus' walk of faith in the first place?

The answer determines our actions. But either way, as Christ-followers, we must hold ourselves to a higher standard of behavior. Likewise, we need to let God be the judge of others outside the faith. He knows the whole story, and we're hardly in the position to condemn anyone.

Regardless of what the world has to say these days, let's forget the concept of tolerance. It's instead love that should be our core value as well as our motivation in whatever we say, think or do. The Apostle John sums up this vast principle in just three small words: God is Love. So with this in mind, let's hand over the gavel and let our Creator be the judge.

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