"So," they say, "nobody's perfect!"
But the Vinedresser won't buy that.
Given the opportunity, He will trim the unproductive suckers and shape the branches so each one will bask in Sonlight.

Saturday, October 23, 2010

Scriptural Harmony
            I've read John 7:24 many times in the past, but this time it spoke to me differently.
"Do not judge according to appearance, but judge with righteous judgment."
            Instantly I thought of John 7:1-6, and how, superficially, the passages seem to contradict one another.
            On closer scrutiny, however, I discovered they not only match perfectly, but John 7:24 clarifies and reinforces Matthew 7.
1Do not judge lest you be judged. 2For in the way you judge, you will be judged; and by your standard of measure, it will be measured to you. 3And why do you look at the speck that is in your brother's eye, but do not notice the log that is in your own eye? 4Or how can you say to your brother, "Let me take the speck out of your eye," and behold, the log is in your own eye? 5You hypocrite, first take the log out of your own eye, and then you will see clearly to take the speck out of your brother's eye. 6Do not give what is holy to dogs, and do not throw your pearls before swine, lest they trample them under their feet, and turn and tear you to pieces.
            Think about it: Matthew 7:1 does not flatly state, "Do not judge!" Rather, it tells us that if we judge another we ourselves will be judged by that same standard. That's why John 7 tells us not to judge according to appearance, as, according to Matthew 7, we will be judged in the same way. Then, back to John 7, Jesus goes on to say, "... but judge with righteous judgment," inferring that judging according to appearance is unrighteous judgment.
            Then Jesus compares such unrighteous judgment with judging another's eye-speck while protecting ones own eye-log. That's a vivid illustration of true blindness, the way we are blind to our own issues while performing eye surgery on another. Assuming such surgery will go well is completely foolish.
            Then comes Jesus' well-known prohibition against "casting our pearls before swine." Reaching deep into Hebrew law and custom, this apparently simple illustration outlines a fundamental Scriptural principle: We(the swine) must not usurp(trample) God's prerogatives. They are our pearls because we are God's children, but until we become sanctified(set apart for God's purposes), we can't just throw them about and play with them.
            Judgment is one of God's exclusive prerogatives. One day, if we are faithful to the end, we will judge the angels(1 Corinthians 6:3). In Matthew 7:5 Jesus brands unrighteous judges(anyone who presumes to usurp God's exclusive authority) as hypocrites. Before we lapse into judgment mode, perhaps we should review Jesus' pronunciations against hypocrites from Matthew chapter 23.
Then Jesus spoke to the multitudes and to His disciples, saying, "The scribes and the Pharisees have seated themselves in the chair of Moses; therefore all that they tell you, do and observe, but do not do according to their deeds; for they say things, and do not do them. "And they tie up heavy loads, and lay them on men's shoulders; but they themselves are unwilling to move them with so much as a finger. "But they do all their deeds to be noticed by men; for they broaden their phylacteries, and lengthen the tassels of their garments. "And they love the place of honor at banquets, and the chief seats in the synagogues, and respectful greetings in the market places, and being called by men, Rabbi. "But do not be called Rabbi; for One is your Teacher, and you are all brothers. "And do not call anyone on earth your father; for One is your Father, He who is in heaven. "And do not be called leaders; for One is your Leader, that is, Christ. "But the greatest among you shall be your servant. "And whoever exalts himself shall be humbled; and whoever humbles himself shall be exalted. "But woe to you, scribes and Pharisees, hypocrites, because you shut off the kingdom of heaven from men; for you do not enter in yourselves, nor do you allow those who are entering to go in. ["Woe to you, scribes and Pharisees, hypocrites, because you devour widows' houses, even while for a pretense you make long prayers; therefore you shall receive greater condemnation.] "Woe to you, scribes and Pharisees, hypocrites, because you travel about on sea and land to make one proselyte; and when he becomes one, you make him twice as much a son of hell as yourselves. "Woe to you, blind guides, who say, 'Whoever swears by the temple, that is nothing; but whoever swears by the gold of the temple, he is obligated.' "You fools and blind men; which is more important, the gold, or the temple that sanctified the gold? "And, 'Whoever swears by the altar, that is nothing, but whoever swears by the offering upon it, he is obligated.' "You blind men, which is more important, the offering or the altar that sanctifies the offering? "Therefore he who swears by the altar, swears both by the altar and by everything on it. "And he who swears by the temple, swears both by the temple and by Him who dwells within it. "And he who swears by heaven, swears both by the throne of God and by Him who sits upon it. "Woe to you, scribes and Pharisees, hypocrites! For you tithe mint and dill and cummin, and have neglected the weightier provisions of the law: justice and mercy and faithfulness; but these are the things you should have done without neglecting the others. "You blind guides, who strain out a gnat and swallow a camel! "Woe to you, scribes and Pharisees, hypocrites! For you clean the outside of the cup and of the dish, but inside they are full of robbery and self-indulgence. "You blind Pharisee, first clean the inside of the cup and of the dish, so that the outside of it may become clean also. "Woe to you, scribes and Pharisees, hypocrites! For you are like whitewashed tombs which on the outside appear beautiful, but inside they are full of dead men's bones and all uncleanness. "Even so you too outwardly appear righteous to men, but inwardly you are full of hypocrisy and lawlessness. "Woe to you, scribes and Pharisees, hypocrites! For you build the tombs of the prophets and adorn the monuments of the righteous, and say, 'If we had been living in the days of our fathers, we would not have been partners with them in shedding the blood of the prophets.' "Consequently you bear witness against yourselves, that you are sons of those who murdered the prophets. "Fill up then the measure of the guilt of your fathers. "You serpents, you brood of vipers, how shall you escape the sentence of hell? "Therefore, behold, I am sending you prophets and wise men and scribes; some of them you will kill and crucify, and some of them you will scourge in your synagogues, and persecute from city to city, that upon you may fall the guilt of all the righteous blood shed on earth, from the blood of righteous Abel to the blood of Zechariah, the son of Berechiah, whom you murdered between the temple and the altar. "Truly I say to you, all these things shall come upon this generation. "O Jerusalem, Jerusalem, who kills the prophets and stones those who are sent to her! How often I wanted to gather your children together, the way a hen gathers her chicks under her wings, and you were unwilling. "Behold, your house is being left to you desolate! "For I say to you, from now on you shall not see Me until you say, 'BLESSED IS HE WHO COMES IN THE NAME OF THE LORD!'"
            A judgmental attitude is only one of the Pharisees' sins, but it is enough to keep one from God's eternal kingdom. The problem with harboring just one sin is they spread throughout ones spirit like gangrene. Don't harbor sin—especially the sins of presumption and usurpation—and be cut off like a pussy leg.

No comments: