The Good, the Bad and the Ugly

Matthew 5: 44 – 45            NET

But I say to you, love your enemy and pray for those who persecute you, so that you may be like your Father in heaven, since he causes the sun to rise on the evil and the good, and sends rain on the righteous and the unrighteous.

You’ve heard that you are to love your enemies and pray for those who persecute you and that is a good focus of this passage, but I particularly like verse 45 for two reasons. First, it tells us the reason for the mandate to pray and love, which is that we might be like our Father. Secondly, it teaches us the difference between love and judgment, loudly revealing our Father as one who loves.

After we get saved and Jesus begins to clean us up, it is easy for us to want to separate ourselves from the unrighteousness people and actions we see in the world. Unfortunately, we begin to judge those people and we separate the world in to we and they. This, our Father does not do. He loves the whole world, so much, in fact, that he gave His only begotten son so that NONE should perish (John 3: 16). Speaking of John 3: 16, do you know what the very next verse says? “For God did not send the Son into the world to judge the world, but that the world might be saved through Him.” By the way, those were words spoken by Jesus. God sacrificed His only son so that through his sacrifice, the world might be saved, not condemned.

God sent His blessing into this world and it will work for whomever will work according to the way Yahweh engineered it. Sometimes, the unsaved are better believers than we are and thus, succeed to a greater extent than we. This ought not be, but it is. We are too busy fussing at each other and judging other Christians and the unsaved that we fill our churches, and our own souls with doubt and unbelief.

God put spiritual and physical laws into the earth. Gravity is a great example of one of these laws. Gravity works the same on the wicked as on the righteous, doesn’t it? God sends His rain on the righteous and the unrighteous. He is constantly pouring out His best to anyone who will accept Him. He has also created laws which exist in the spirit realm. They too work for whoever applies them. He told us that whatever we believe, we can have (Mark 11: 23 – 24). He has told us to use our words to create our dreams and even that the power of life is in our tongues (Proverb 18: 21). Yet I find we are still running around spewing all kinds of garbage and unbelief from our mouths. Meanwhile, others are using God’s success system to great effect and they never give Him the credit. We are too worried about criticizing anyone who succeeds and making sure our pastors never have too nice a car to ever live in God’s overflow. We are afraid of being criticized ourselves. That is one of the reasons why so many Christians are so carnal. They look at the church and don’t want any part of it. They want Christ but they find the lifestyle of the heathen more attractive and they find more love outside the church than in it.

I don’t like it and I bet you don’t either. We’ve got to begin to take this gospel seriously. We need to buckle down and become students of the Word and believers. Then we need to do what the Word tells us. We need to commune with God and listen to His voice. We need to let the Holy Spirit guide us without getting all weird about it. Just quiet yourself down and listen to him.

None of us wants to be a part of this mealy mouth Christianity. None of us wants to see the unsaved surpassing God’s people using God’s own system. We are supposed to succeed and then give God the glory. And, we’ve got to stop judging one another and “those other guys.” Jesus said he didn’t come to judge the world so what makes us think we should. God sends the rain on both our crops, so He isn’t judging. He isn’t withholding His blessing. Our judgments are killing us while those we criticize are experiencing faith healing, financial prosperity and loving relationships. It is time we got over ourselves and seriously begin imitating our Father and learning His ways. Love is our mandate. Turn in your judge’s robe for a coat of compassion. Let love and acceptance color the way you think of all people, yes ALL, even those unsaved because God has not separated us into we and them. He is sending His truth to everyone who will listen. He is sending the nourishing rain to whomever will receive. Be blessed in the name and power of Jesus and live this gospel to the full. Receive God’s blessing and share that blessing with others. Let it overflow onto others, the good and the bad.

Billy Graham

John 3: 16

For God so loved the world, that He gave His only begotten Son, that whoever believes in Him should not perish, but have eternal life.

As a fellow North Carolinian, I am blessed today to honor the Reverend Billy Graham who passed over into glory yesterday. The word “reverend” has, at its base, “revere” which describes people’s feelings about Graham and his ministry. He shared God’s love to millions of people, the list of people in heaven because of his compassion and message is quite long. I, too, made a declaration for Christ at a Billy Graham function.

He was an evangelist amongst evangelists. He preached John 3: 16 in over 400 crusades in 185 countries. He literally took the good news of Jesus Christ to the world. He was a friend and confident to presidents and people of influence around the globe. He, more than any other minister, was considered the pastor of the United States. He was personal friends with Martin Luther King and long before it was popular, conducted integrated services, having personally removed the ropes that segregated blacks from whites at his meeting. He was, and is, a man of renown.

He is also a man of humility. He never forsook his rural North Carolina roots nor was he embarrassed by his humble beginnings. He also never seemed impressed by his popularity or fame. He was impressed by the life of Jesus, his savior and it was that story he told convincingly throughout his life and ministry.

When I decided to write about Reverend Graham the verse John 3: 16 leapt to my mind but what set Reverend Graham apart in my mind is John 3: 17, “For God did not send the Son into the world to judge the world, but that the world should be saved through Him.” He certainly was challenged in this stance, especially as his friend Richard Nixon admitted to misdealings in the Watergate scandal. However, he unleashed the power of John 3: 17 when speaking about Bill Clinton’s white house troubles, Graham revealed that we are not given the job to judge but rather to love.

What will be Graham’s legacy? Time will tell. However, the answer lies, at least in part, in the hearts of you and me. Can we answer the call to love without judgement? Will we live our lives to God? Can we preach John 3: 16 to people not because of what we believe they are doing wrong but because of what Jesus did right?

Each generation must be a flag bearer. The mantle has certainly passed but to whom? I believe in my heart that it has passed to you. From the one, to the many we carry forward the message of Jesus, the one who loves us enough to die for us, and of the Father, He who loves us enough to sacrifice His only begotten child, and of the Spirit who has vacated paradise to live with us. If it is true that the Reverend Billy Graham’s legacy is left to you, what would you have that legacy be?

Accuser

Revelation 12: 10

Now the salvation, and the power, and the kingdom of our God and the authority of His Christ have come, for the accuser of our brethren has been thrown down.

Who is the accuser of the brethren? It is he who has been thrown down. It’s Satan, right? God is not the accuser of the brethren. We have already seen that He is the rewarder of the brethren. God is not judging us. He sent salvation and the salvation and power that He sent threw down the accuser. “Therefore there is now no condemnation for those who are in Christ Jesus (Romans 8: 1). Christ, our savior, rescued us from judgment and condemnation. That is why our Father does not want us judging and/or condemning each other. He does not want tattle-tales.

Jesus said, “Judge not lest you be judged” (Matthew 7: 1). Well, that sentence could just as easily end with “Judge not.” Satan is the accuser of the brethren. Jesus is the savior of the brethren. He has restored us in His glory and majesty. That is why he hates to hear us judging and criticizing each other. He knows our weaknesses. That is why we needed a savior but despite our faults we are the beloved.

If God isn’t judging us, and we saw that to be true in Monday’s Word of the Day (John 5: 22) and Jesus isn’t judging us (John 3: 17) then where do we get the goofy idea that we are allowed to judge anyone? In doing so we are doing the devil’s work because he is the accuser. This is really huge. Since God and Jesus have foregone their legal right to judge, condemn and sentence us then anyone who does judge is usurping their authority. This is exactly why you see verses in the Bible against gossip, backbiting and strife. We are playing with the devil’s toys when we engage in those acts.

Whatsmore, judging others invites calamity upon ourselves. That is one of the big reasons Jesus doesn’t want us to judge. Remember he said, “Judge not lest you be judged.” Look at Luke 6: 37, “And do not judge and you will not be judged; and do not condemn, and you will not be condemned; pardon, and you will be pardoned.” The degree to which we accuse our brethren and judge them, that is the amount of judgment seed we sow and hence by that measure we will receive judgment. It isn’t that God is judging us. We have already seen that is not the case. No, it is that we will just reap judgment and condemnation from the people around us. If you think people are judging you, it might be because you have been judgmental. Jesus wants to save you from yourself.

Whatever you have thought about criticism, accusation, judgment and condemnation in the past should now be tempered by what you know from the Word. God has not called us as judges but rather as believers. He has not asked us to tattle on our sisters and brothers. He is explicitly saying to us that this is an area which is forbidden to us. Satan stands accused for this very thing. He is the one who holds our sin up before the Father but God has condemned him for his acts.

Free yourself from Judgment. It is too heavy a load to bear.