Tag Archives: forgiveness

Who has the final word on you?

8 Apr

Going off of yesterday’s post looking at Matthew 7 and confronting someone who you believe is in the wrong made me think of this video that I recently saw of Tiger Woods ran by Nike. I’m rooting for Tiger, not as a golfer, but as a man to find restoration for himself and his family. I’ve tried to pay as little attention to the Tiger Woods scandal as possible because I think we have a stupid celebrity culture. We love to build people up and give them power and influence for their talents over character and then we absolutely love to see them crumble, self destruct, fail and somehow we feel better about ourselves in the process. No thank you. I’ll pass on that way of seeing the world and myself.

But it made me think of what I would want said to me when I fail and we all fail. I know it is a Nike commercial and their bottom line is the dollar but I was moved by the pathos of a father speaking to a son. It makes me think of whose voice do I hear in my failures? Do I hear the voice of grace and compassion which allows me to be honest about my struggles or do I hear the voice of condemnation and shame which forces me deeper into a private world?

I would submit that one of the purposes of the church is to be a group of people that make the voice of God in our failures tangible. That we are surrounded by people who are going to walk us through our faults that we can almost audibly hear the voice of God forgiving. But I don’t think a lot of faith communities are like this. I think to often we take on celebrity culture mentality in which we put a lot of stock in individuals and then we love to crucify them with our words when they fall short and we incorporate it into the church.

So surround yourself with people who speak words of grace. Because if you do, you can be honest about yourself. And when you are honest with yourself you can be whole.

Judgment of Grace

7 Apr

Getting back on track with going through the book of Matthew looking at one chapter a day means that today I’m looking at chapter 7:

1″Do not judge, or you too will be judged. 2For in the same way you judge others, you will be judged, and with the measure you use, it will be measured to you.

3″Why do you look at the speck of sawdust in your brother’s eye and pay no attention to the plank in your own eye? 4How can you say to your brother, ‘Let me take the speck out of your eye,’ when all the time there is a plank in your own eye? 5You hypocrite, first take the plank out of your own eye, and then you will see clearly to remove the speck from your brother’s eye.

So my first thought it that this passage is saying that we can’t judge. It almost seems to be a total loss to exercise any kind of judgment because we will be judged to the same degree. If so then wouldn’t it be best never to say anything to anyone so that God will never say anything about you? I think the teaching in light of the whole gospel isn’t that judgment itself is wrong but the heart that is behind it may be. We make judgments all the time about what is good and what is bad. We make judgments not to walk blindfolded in traffic, not to let kids eat desert for breakfast and to not put our finger in light sockets. There are all kinds of things that we say with passionate sincerity for the good that should be off limits.

Paul makes it quite clear that judging isn’t a bad thing however what he points out is something that modern Christianity has seemed to get backwards. He doesn’t talk about Christians judging the world who are not a part of the church. He says that this is God’s job. Where he does say we are to judge are those who are inside the church that claim to represent and be the body of Jesus.

Jesus describes the process in which we are to confront those who are part of the family of faith in Matthew 18:

15″If your brother sins against you,[b] go and show him his fault, just between the two of you. If he listens to you, you have won your brother over. 16But if he will not listen, take one or two others along, so that ‘every matter may be established by the testimony of two or three witnesses.'[c] 17If he refuses to listen to them, tell it to the church; and if he refuses to listen even to the church, treat him as you would a pagan or a tax collector.

So if someone wrongs you then you are 1) go to this person privately and keep this just between the two of you 2) if that doesn’t work then you bring another person into the conversation 3) if that doesn’t work then the community confronts them 4) if that doesn’t work then you let them go.

But we’ve heard horror stories of people kicked out of churches by cold hearted leadership. People in power using guilt and shame to scare people who may have made mistakes and instead of finding a pathway to healing have found condemnation. So what should be the posture of our heart as we speak into the lives of others who claim the title of Christian but are not honoring him with their lives?

In 7:3-5 he talks about someone with a plank in his eye judging someone with a speck in his. It’s a way of saying that consider your sin to be as a plank and speak with that humility to the speck in the eye of another. It means come with a humble, grace saturated heart as you talk with this person about what they are going through.

In Matthew 18 he tells a story of a person that owes his master a Bernie Madoff size debt. He will never be able to pay back but grovels promising he can. His master amazingly says that the debt is canceled. This forgiven debtor then finds someone who owes him the equivalent of a few months back rent and has him thrown into prison. When the master who forgave such a great debt hears this he has this man thrown into prison to pay back every penny, which is quite evident from the debt that he never will. It means, that when you talk with a person understand that you have a Bernie Madoff kind of debt called sin that is forgiven. So when you confront this individual consider them a person that you are trying to awaken to the same kind of grace you woke up one day to receive.

So when you go to confront someone ask if you are sitting down to put them in their place or desiring to wake them up to grace? So when you go to confront someone have you made it a habit of rehearsing and replaying the constant errors of others or are you intimately aware of your shortcomings and failures and dire need for grace and inviting someone to join you in this level playing field?

A heart that deals and speaks with grace can do this freely and clearly with others knowing that the only judgment that they will receive in the end is a judgment of grace.