Jesus words are very pointed aren’t they, “Go! I am sending you out like lambs among wolves.” Luke 10:3. I think all of us would expect that there would be some sort of opposition from those who don’t know God, but I guess I’ve been stunned a little by the realisation that sadly, I think sometimes we can be in danger from within the family of faith as well. Surely this isn’t meant to be the case? We are commanded to “encourage one another and build each other up” 1 Thessalonians 5:11. Rather than encourage, too often we can discourage by simply critiquing each other harshly.
Within a family we could be inclined to think we have permission to give our opinions or critiques as we feel the need, both within our faith family and our blood family for that matter. However at the forefront of our minds should be Jesus words “Do not judge, or you too will be judged. For in the same way you judge others, you will be judged and with the measure you use, it will be measured to you.” Matthew 7:1-2. I looked up the Greek word used here for judge and it means “to pass sentence or give one’s opinion in a private manner” (New Testament Lexical Aid). It’s so easy to judge isn’t it? Is my opinion the standard by which others should measure themselves? Absolutely not and I’m guessing yours isn’t either!
You might feel as if I’m getting in your face a bit. Well you know what, we need to get in each others face on this topic. We are family and family is there to support and encourage and on the odd occasion pull us up. I’m talking to myself as much as I am to you. When others are serving within the church family, whether up the front or out the back, has there ever been even the odd occasion where you have been inclined to ‘critique’ their work for the Lord? Someone may not make the tea how we like it, or lead worship in the style to which we are accustomed, or dress according to our tastes, or in one way or another, not quite do things the way we are used to. Some of us can be harsh critics. As St Teresa of
once said “There is no reason why we
should expect everyone else to travel by our own road.” May we have mercy and stop
ourselves short of sharing our views with those who serve us. To serve is to
give time and effort for others. How very disheartening to be critiqued on that
service. When we feel the desire to share our views starting to percolate to
the surface, we need to bring it to a halt and instead encourage those who
serve and heed the warning that says “with the measure you use, it will be
measured to you.” Matt 7:2. Avila
I often bang on about how the truth of the bible can change lives, can change people, can change relationships and can change eternity for each one of us. I know it can do all these things. I know it, but what I don’t know is, if we are willing to let it. The truth of the Bible draws us to the Creator and Saviour. Once we are justified; made righteous through Jesus Christ, then we are to begin the process of sanctification; becoming Christ-like. Growing in the knowledge of and obedience to, the love of Jesus, which means stop acting like we once did and learn to choose to follow Jesus’ example. By that I mean, responding appropriately to such love as we have been given. Jesus wants us to need him each day. To stop critiquing and judging others and thinking that we are better than them. To do this we need Jesus.
We think too highly of ourselves if we ignorantly climb into the judge’s seat. Who are we to judge? That judgement seat belongs to God alone. I’m guessing you, like me would be looking at the floor, or even wishing it would open up and swallow us, if God ever said, “So you want my job? Well, let’s just see how you would do.” If you ever have the temptation to inform someone their serving isn’t up to scratch, or you think you could do a better job then put your hand up and volunteer. You will soon see that some people make certain jobs look easy, due to their gifting, but that doesn’t make them easy jobs. If you know you couldn’t do a better job, then opinions are better left unsaid, for everyone’s sake. If something is a major issue for you, speak to your Pastor about it, after you have spoken to the Lord about it. Let’s ask Jesus to guide us in becoming lambs who encourage. We have enough wolves outside the faith. We don’t need them in it too.