Posts Tagged Matthew 7: 1

Forgive & Forget

Jeremiah 31: 34

I will forgive their iniquity, and their sin I will remember no more.

The entire topic about forgiveness fills volumes. There is God forgiving us and us forgiving others. However, there is another aspect of this topic that is interesting. Let’s call it forgive and forget. Is it truly forgiveness if we retain the memory of the transgression? Do we forgive someone only to later resurrect that offense in times of anger or self-victimization?

God not only forgives our sins but He puts them behind Him, literally. Isaiah 38: 17 says that he casts our sins behind His back. They are behind Him where He can no longer see them. He isn’t holding onto our sin, mistakes, misdeeds, errors or even plain stupidness. The God’s Word translation of today’s verse reads, “I will forgive their wickedness and I will no longer hold their sins against them.” To God, forgiveness means that He has erased it and put it out of His mind. Whew! That is what I call “Good News.”

Now with people, it can be a different thing. We like to retain the sin of others. “Forget my sin, Father, but I will never forget what that person did to me.” We even retain the sins of people who do not directly affect us. There is no better example of this than David. We are first introduced to David in 1st Samuel. He was a shepherd boy who the great prophet, Samuel, anointed to be king. After his calling and anointing, though, he returned to tending sheep, which is so often the case. The next big thing we hear of David is of him slaying the giant, Goliath. David eventually went on to live in the palace of King Saul and served him faithfully. He became a mighty warrior but in his madness, Saul chased him off. Eventually though, David does become the king of Israel. In fact, The Complete Book of Who’s Who in the Bible by Philip Comfort and Walter A. Elwell, says that he was Israel’s most important king. But the great king fell. He lusted after Bathsheba, contrived to have her husband killed, and then took her for himself. Later he repented, God forgave him and his life prospered. We wrote most of the Psalms and through the Psalms we get the most clear picture of a close relationship, a true loving connection between a person and God.

I am always amazed when out of all of the Psalms, 1st Samuel, 2nd Samuel, 1st Chronicles, and the slaying of Goliath the one thing people choose to bring up about David is that he sinned. Really? Jesus made it quite evident that we have all sinned when he said, “He who is without sin among you, let him be the first to throw a stone” (John 8: 7). Paul just came right out and said it in Romans 3: 23, “For all have sinned and fall short of the glory of God.” But then Paul, knowing God and His forgiveness, went on to write, “being justified as a gift by His grace through the redemption which is in Christ Jesus” (v. 24). In other words, although we have all sinned and as such fall short of the glory of God, God, by His grace, extends mercy and forgiveness to us as a free gift. We haven’t earned forgiveness. We don’t deserve it but that is what grace is, a free, undeserved gift. Yea!

Likewise, it was God’s grace that forgave David. Psalm 51 is a clear picture of a contrite and repentant heart. David knew that he sinned against God and even against himself but he also knew God’s loving-kindness better than any human that had walked the earth. He believed in the kindness of God and he repented. Do you know what God had to say about David? The bible says that David was a man after God’s own heart (1 Samuel 13: 14). God’s opinion of David isn’t of David as a sinner but as a beloved child. He loved that, although David messed up, he sought God’s heart.

What does it say about us if our recollection of David is of his sin with Bathsheba? How many sins have we committed? In fact, Jesus told us not to judge (Matthew 7: 1) and yet we sit in judgment of David as if we are any better. That is sin. If God has forgiven David, why do we insist on holding on to his sin? If God remembers his sin no more, why do we post it on our bulletin boards? Is this an attempt to make us feel better about our sin and inadequacies? I am thankful God forgave David. I praise God that He has put David’s sin behind Him because I need that same grace. I want Yahweh to forget all the times that I have messed up too.

Jesus died for my sin and yours. The grace that was big enough to pardon David is more than able to cleanse us of our iniquity. The blood of Jesus is more potent than any sin or any sinner. Whoever puts themselves under the blood is cleansed, praise God, so we must ask ourselves what relationship we are to have with another person’s sin. Secondly, Father God chooses to forgive your sin (even your sin of judgment) and remember it no more. So, why should you retain the memory of it along with all of the accompanying emotions if God has put it behind him?

I encourage you to take your sin to the loving Father and lay it at His feet. Speak with Him with an open and contrite heart. When, however, you leave the throne room, leave that sin there along with the memory of it. Bury your sin and stop digging it up. Dad doesn’t want to be reminded of it. He has put it behind him. Now, can you?

The Worst Offense?

Proverb 24: 17 – 18

Rejoice not when your enemy falls, and let not your heart be glad when he stumbles or is overthrown, lest the Lord see it and it be evil in His eyes and displease Him, and He turn away His wrath from him [to expend it upon you, the worse offender].

It is so easy to judge other people’s faults. But God did not send you and me into the world to judge it. That is His job alone. He is so adamant in this point that this scripture shows that His wrath will turn from the bad actor to the worse offender, i.e. those of us who judge others. 

We even think we are doing justly when we judge others’ actions yet Jesus said, judge not lest you be judged (Matthew 7: 1). But when we speak to God about other people’s sins or sometimes even our perception of their wrong doings, God’s eyes turn away from their mistakes and onto our outright disobedience.

I know it is difficult but our part is to love and to pray for those whom we think are missing God’s best. And I do not mean those judgmental prayers. You know the ones where we condemn people and attempt to put them under bondage while in a conversation with our heavenly Father. No, our prayers are to be out of love and honest concern for their welfare. Do you want to please your Father? Pray earnestly and lovingly for those people that you think are falling short of God’s glory.

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.

Do You Love Me?

John 15: 17

This I command you, that you love one another.

If you knew me would you still love me? My definition of a friend is “someone who knows you and still likes you”. Sometimes we become acquainted with someone but then when we find a blemish on their armor or find that they have needs as well as strengths, we abandon that friendship.

One of our problems is that we make judgments about people based on these perceived faults. Well, when you began becoming friends with them, did you think they were perfect? There has only been one perfect. So discovering that a person is flawed really shouldn’t be such a big surprise.

Our response to these pronounced judgments is to hide away our true selves. Hence my question, “If you knew the real me, would you still love me?” Well, I know how Jesus answers that question and it is probably why we love him so much. He sees us for who we truly are complete with all of our emotional baggage, scars and our faults and yet loves us anyway. In fact, he knew all of my short comings before he went to the cross and seeing my damage chose to go to the cross anyway. Now that is a friend indeed.

Now Jesus directs us. He has said, “Do not judge” (Matthew 7: 1). Instead he commands us to love one another. I don’t see an easy way around these two imperatives. Do you? We are very good at determining what is good and what is bad but remember, that is the fruit of the tree we were never supposed to eat from (see Genesis 3: 2 – 4). Eating the fruit of that tree is what yielded the curse and it is still producing misfortune and torment in our lives today.

We do not need to agree with each other’s politics or even religious views but we do have to accept one another. We have not been appointed to determine who is good and who is bad, who gets into heaven and who does not. Our job is but to love. Period, end of story. Now, if we could really get a revelation of that, we would transform the world.

The First Law

Galatians 6: 7

Do not be deceived, God is not mocked; for whatever a man sows, this he will also reap.

We have the power to improve the quality of our lives. When we know and follow spiritual laws we find increasing success and happiness. The lead shot manufacturers from yesterday’s Word of the Day employed the physical laws of the earth in order to create a needed product. We can create the same kind of success by employing spiritual laws.

Today’s verse reveals one of those spiritual laws. It is called the law of sowing and reaping. Yesterday I said that it is the preeminent law. Why do I say that? Jesus intimated to his disciples that if they could not understand the parable of the sower and the seed then they could not understand any of the parables (Mark 4: 13). Besides this statement, twice Jesus compared the kingdom of God to seed being sown (v. 26 & 30). In other words, if we cannot understand the parable of the sower then we cannot understand anything about the kingdom of God. This principle of sowing and reaping is how the kingdom of God works. That is why it is so important that we recognize it and employ it. It is not necessary that we understand how it works, only that we apply it.

In Galatians 6: 7 Paul was writing specifically about money. In context he was speaking about giving good things to those who teach us the word (Galatians 6: 6). The principle of sowing and reaping, though, applies to all things. In Matthew 7, verse 1 Jesus is quoted saying, “Do not judge lest you be judged.” Why is this so? Because as you sow, so shall you reap. If you sow judgement, judgment you will reap. If you sow bitterness, bitterness you will reap. No matter what you sow, that you shall reap and more besides because one thing we know about seeds is that they produce much more fruit than is represented by their size and number.

Another truth which supports this proposition is Genesis 1: 12 which reads, “The earth brought forth vegetation, plants yielding seed after their kind, and trees bearing fruit with seed in them, after their kind”. That is to say that the fruit yield is representative of the seed sown. The seeds produce according to their own kind such that whatever you sow is what you reap. Agriculturally we wouldn’t expect to plant cucumber seeds and get tomatoes. It just doesn’t happen.

The same is true in our lives. We cannot sow discord and reap harmony. We will not reap love and respect if we sow criticism, judgment and backbiting. It just isn’t ever going to happen. Jesus taught that we could know people by their fruit (Matthew 7: 16 & 20). A good tree, he said, does not produce bad fruit and vice versa. The fruit will demonstrate what kind of seed they have sown. Jesus is talking about the harvest and the harvest is always a product of the seed. Knowing this, we can predetermine the crop which is produced in our lives by planting the correct seeds.

This is the first law of spiritual physics. Harvests are determined by seeds. Therefore, we can cultivate our crop of choice by first planting the right seeds. Understanding that the kingdom of God’s first law is sowing and reaping should help us all to live a more enlightened and fruitful life. Be blessed my beloved.

Free from Judgment

Romans 2: 1

Therefore you are without excuse, every man of you who passes judgment, for in that you judge another, you condemn yourself; for you who judge practice the same things.

First, I am not sending you this for the purpose of condemnation. It just struck me so hard and so loudly that I needed to write about it. If this is not for you, then just read it for the other people in your life that may need light in this area. However, having said that, I find that most of us have little pockets of judgment left in us. I wish I was clean of all judgment but if I said that you would know I was lying.  

The great Apostle Paul wrote this. I was first struck by how strongly he addressed his followers. It does not seem that he was in the least concerned with offending his followers. He did not even seem to consider how this counsel might affect his offerings. I could wish that all ministers had the courage to tell us what we need to hear but that is not an easy thing to do. You never want to offend people or hurt their feelings but at some level there is a time when the truth must be told. I believe Paul was more concerned about his flock’s eternal souls than their overly tender feelings.

Paul understood how large a stumbling block judgment really is. Jesus said if you judge you will be judged (Matthew 7: 1). Well, for my part, I do not want to be judged by Jesus. I want our beloved Father to look at me and see the blood of Jesus rather than my stupidity. I do not wish to enter into a theological debate about salvation and the blood but it seems clear to me that Paul picked up on the revelation of Jesus as it regards judgmental attitudes and behaviors and that those judgments we make have a detrimental effect on us rather than on the object of our judgment.

How far does this non-judgment go? In order to answer that please allow me to show you how the Father taught me about judgment. I knew someone involved in adultery. Now, of all the “sins” the sin of adultery is about as clear as any sin can be. It is black and white, no gray area at all. Well, I was struggling with loving the one involved in this sin and being supportive of their needs. What they were doing was just WRONG and they were confessing Christians. Where was I to stand? I wanted to stand with the Bible and on the side of right. Dad drew me up short on this though. He said it wasn’t my job to judge them. I didn’t think I was, frankly. The Bible judges them, the Word judges them. Their behaviors, quite honestly, were none of my business, as it turns out. Their actions were a private matter between them and God even as my own are between me and God and for no one else to judge. You don’t have to ratify actions or encourage actions that the Bible prohibits but it is not our job to judge other people’s souls. If the truth were to be told, we each have our hands full with our own missteps.

Since that situation Father has taught me a lot about judging others. Whether you think a thing is right or wrong is completely irrelevant. Isn’t that something? Even if the Bible says that a thing is a sin, it still is not our place to judge people as right or wrong, sinful or saints. None of us have been appointed as Lord High Judge. “For not even the Father judges anyone, but He has given all judgment to the Son” (John 5: 22). Even Jesus does not judge for he said, “I did not come to judge the world, but to save the world ” (Matthew 7: 1). If Jesus set aside judgment, why do we so revel in it? Consider the woman caught in adultery in the eighth chapter of John who the Pharisees brought before Jesus. He had the most brilliant response to them. They wanted her judged, condemned and punished. They knew, however, that Jesus went around preaching love and grace. They had him trapped, sure enough. You probably recall the story, Jesus challenged the accusers saying, “He who is without sin among you, let him be the first to throw a stone at her” (v. 7). Well, that is the point isn’t it? Who among us is without sin? Let the one without sin judge others. When Jesus looked up, all of the woman’s accusers were gone. Why? They had the stain of guilt and sin on them. They were not qualified to judge anyone.

Isn’t it clever that these legalistic, holier than thou, Pharisees chose an adulterous situation to confront Jesus with? That was the very situation Father used to confront me. Jesus knew that our Father does not want us to engage in adultery. He knew every word of scripture. None the less, he did not judge the woman. Whatsmore, by his handling of the confrontation from the Pharisees, he prevented her being judged and stoned. Jesus, the sinless, Jesus the holy allowed a sinner to escape judgment. Howbeit that we, the sin stained, are so righteous that we would enforce judgment, condemnation and death on the accused?

Jesus did not agree with sin nor encourage it. So many times we think that unless we wave a red flag at someone else’s sin it is the same as encouraging sin but it is we who need the revelation. Then we will be able to help others. Jesus showed grace to the woman. He extended the Father’s love but he did not encourage sin. You will see in the closing verses of this story that Jesus said to the woman, “Woman, where are they? Did no one condemn you?” When she confirmed that not one person condemned her he said, “Neither do I condemn you; go your way. From now on sin no more”  (v. 10 – 11).

Paul understood what Jesus taught when he was in the earth. Our judgments of other people do more damage to us than they do anyone else. Judgments are very like unforgiveness. They each deal out enormous damage but the damage is reflective. In other words, they hurt us. “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” (Luke 6: 38). Surely Jesus understood the things of the Spirit. He is trying to reveal to us that we are our own worst enemies. Paul wrote that those who judge others condemn themselves. That is exactly what Jesus said.

I realize today’s devotional is long but it is important. We are condemning ourselves through our determinations about other people’s lives. So let us all do ourselves a favor. Free yourself from condemnation. Leave judgments of others to the Lord. It’s not your job. It’s not your business. Get free and save yourself.