Thursday, July 24, 2014

Called Judge? (3 of 4)

Parts 1 and 2 of this week's posts have set the stage regarding what we are to seek (God's Kingdom and righteousness – Matthew 6.33) and what that means in regards to if, and how, we judge others. But now, the idea turns towards viewing God as Father, instead of King or Judge.

Matthew 7.7-11 brings us to Jesus' second principle in the verses for this week – that God is a Father who will give good things. Why? We are His family. We are not merely servants to a king. We are not merely individuals who are on trial. Rather, when we receive the gift of salvation, we become children of God. And just as a good father wishes to provide care for his children, so too does our heavenly Father. James 1.17 says that every good and perfect gift comes from the Father in the heavenly heights. This Father, God, that doesn't change because He is above the shifting shadows because He is the light. And because He does not change we can trust Him to give us good gifts.

In verses 9-10, Jesus says that even regular people will give their child what they ask for if they can. More specifically, if a child asks for bread, he won't receive a stone. Or if the child asks for a fish, he won't receive a snake. Then, in verse 11, Jesus equates the “regular people” to evil with the phrase "though you are evil". He says even evil people know what they are doing and will make the choice to help those for whom they truly care.

But the focus of this week's blogs has been the tie-back to Matthew 6.33 – that we are to seek first His Kingdom and His righteousness. Who is the His? God's. The Judge. The one who can make us righteous or find us guilty. But in Matthew 6.32 the Judge is called Father. In 7.11, He is called Father. For those that are born-again, the one who is the Judge is also our Father. The One who is King is our Father. The One who is Righteous grants us righteousness through His Son, Jesus, that we too might become children of God. (This may be repetitive from the paragraph above, but it is crucial for our understanding that God is not just waiting for us to fail (to judge us), but is waiting for us to give Him the opportunity to show His love in and through us.)

Back to the context of verses 7-11, we see that when we seek first the Kingdom, we are seeking what He wants. Regarding judgment, we will judge according to His standards – realizing that ultimately judgment is not ours to remit, but to help others by judging them (lower j) so they don't face Judgment Day (capital J) unprepared. And as we seek first His Kingdom, we will ask for things that matter to Him. We will seek things that matter to Him. We will knock regarding opportunities that matter to Him, because we are seeking first His Kingdom – not ours. We are seeking His righteousness because we have none apart from Christ. We are seeking His glory – not our own.

And we are being His family. Just as:
  • children ask their parents for things, so too are we to ask our heavenly Father for things. But Jesus promised that whatever we ask in His Name will be given to us.
  • children are often given chores before dinner, we have been given a task to complete – to make disciples - before coming to God's great dinner – the wedding supper of the Lamb.
  • families often have major disagreements, so to does God's family. But what makes a family strong is working through the differences. And that is what God's family must do sometimes as well.

Most people do not like being judge, and some are quite vocal about it using the Bible as a reference – “Judge not, lest ye be judged.” (Matthew 7.1) But ironically, such a statement, said in that context, is passing judgment. Yet, as Part 2 mentioned, just a few verses later, Jesus does say that some degree of judgment is in order (vv. 5-6).

So, is the church is to judge? Yes, but with great humility. The church is not to issue any kind of eternal judgment. That is for God. The King. And our Father. But just as many of us may have feared the statement, “Wait till your Father gets home”, there is a time now – before sinners face the wrath of God that we can get right with God. Our God is not like a Father that is looking to punish someone when He arrives home from work. No, our God is waiting to show His love to His children, but with the necessary discipline to mold our character into that of Christ. (Again redundancy is intentional).

And because of that, we are to judge – to help one another. As Christians, as people who have had the log pulled from our eye, when we see another with a speck, we are to help. Paul gives a couple of examples of the need for the church to judge others in the church (1 Corinthians 5.12-6.5). Paul also gives us our source for judging (2 Timothy 3.16). This verse says that Scripture is for teaching and training in righteousness. But it is also for rebuking and correcting. That involves discernment and judgment. In fact, Paul states that we will one day judge the angels, but God will judge the world – those apart from the church.

As Christians, we have a bond with one another through Jesus. Most everyone has heard the phrase “blood is thicker than water.” It is a phrase that is used by people who want to clarify that their allegiance to family (by blood) is more important than friendships. As church members we should be friendly towards one another. But we are also family united by the blood that holds all believers together – the blood of Christ. As members of the God's family, we have not only been made righteous by the blood of Jesus, we are held together through it.

It is because of Jesus blood that we can boldly approach the throne of grace as Hebrews tells us. We can come before our King not only to confess our sins and have our log removed, but to ask our King, our Father, for good things – things that He wishes to give us. And then, with His wisdom, and for His glory, we can help others remove the speck from their eye.

But before we go to remove the speck, we must ask ourselves four important questions. These questions will be revealed in Part 4.

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