“To Judge or Not to Judge, Is That the Question?

JeffAdams“To Judge or not to judge, is that the question?”

The world, and many Christians, get hung up on the idea that Christians aren’t supposed to judge anyone. The problem stems from an improper understanding of the Biblical use of the word “judge”. Most will point to Matthew 7 which says, “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. 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? How 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? You 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.

In Greek, the word for judge here is “krino”, which means to condemn or damn, as in to sentence or levy a punishment. Clearly, it is not the Christians duty to put a sentence of punishment on anyone. That is the provenance of God. Yet, if we are to never “judge”, then why would Jesus admonish us to FIRST remove the plank from our eye so that we can then remove the speck from our brother’s eye?

To claim we must not judge means Jesus contradicts Himself in John 7:24, where He says, “Stop judging by mere appearances, but instead judge correctly.” So, DID Jesus contradict Himself? Absolutely not. Remember, Scripture can have only ONE interpretation but many applications. Jesus’ teaching on judgement is to correctly, or righteously determine a man’s heart by His standards, not by his outer appearance or by our own set of criteria.

Certainly, we are to analyze—judge—what is right or wrong, based on the mind of God as expressed in His Word. How we apply that judgment to others is critical, for Christ will take the same attitude with us that we take with others. As an example, proper “judging” helps us determine how to best witness to someone. How can we decide who to marry unless we “judge” whether that person is the one whom God would have us marry?

Like it or not, life forces us to make judgments, or decisions, about people every day. These may deal with mundane physical things or with friendships or marriages that affect a lifetime. Many have gone through life wishing they had been equipped early in life to render and exercise sounder judgments, for the process of making good calls can be very confusing. It is so easy to dwell on the wrong factors or see only what is on the surface.

Yet, we must be very careful not to fall into the trap of legalism. A good definition of legalism is to try and justify our position in Christ by our own efforts. It is not our efforts that can ever secure our salvation. Yet, many try to elevate their own position in Him by attacking others. God forbid we should ever do that. But God forbid we should ever tire from speaking forth the never-changing, eternal truth of God in loving concern for those around us.

Hater or Hated?

JeffAdamsI fear what would happen if the world shared your narrow-minded views. You are a very sad specimen of humanity and even less so that of a Christian. Keep preaching to the saved and condemning the sinner and see what flock you gather”.

That’s the message I received the other day from the fiancé’ of a Christian young lady I know. I was engaged in a running debate on Facebook several days ago with her about “gay marriage”. Her assertion was that she loved all her LGBT friends and who was I to tell someone who they should and shouldn’t love. Beyond that, she said she was in favor of equal rights for all people. I took the view that homosexuality is an abomination before God and that, while all sins separate us from the love of God, homosexuals claim God made them that way, which makes no more sense than saying God made someone a liar, thief, or murderer.

I don’t want this blog to be about homosexuals or “gay marriage”. I want to focus on the way Christians are viewed by much of the world. In all my comments back and forth with the young lady, and a few others who chimed in on Facebook, not once did I condemn homosexuals nor did I claim I was any less deserving of God’s wrath due to my own sins. Over and again I maintained both my love and, more importantly, God’s love for all who are caught up in sin. Yet, I was accused of being a “hater” because I dared to disagree on Scriptural grounds to “gay marriage”.

I truly don’t believe I exhibited any hate for anyone. Yet, all my comments were seen by non-Christians and even OTHER CHRISTIANS to be hatred of homosexuals. Now, it must be noted that these other Christians were all young people. I was told time and again by them that Jesus is all love and only love. I was told that I was not supposed to judge or condemn anyone for who they are. After all, they said, Jesus NEVER condemned anyone.

In my dialogue with the young Christians I used Scripture to point out both the perfect love of God for ALL mankind and His perfect justice which demands that the “soul that sins shall die”. After all, it was that combination that resulted in Christ Jesus’ sacrificial death for all sins. Yet, the young Christians continually labeled me a “hater”.

When I attended Southeastern Christian College, a friend of mine had a unique way of challenging those around him. He would amble up to you and say, “How’s the world treating you?” Most people would reply with, “OK.” or, “Not bad.” or, “Pretty good.” Joe would just look at you and say, “Brother, Jesus says the world will HATE you because you are His.”

Back to the young man. By his own admission he is an agnostic, though I suspect he’s actually an atheist. I don’t expect him to hold to the same view I do. After all, his heart is in this world only. Why did he respond to me the way he did (including a foul name which I didn’t include)? I believe it’s because I dared to call sin, sin. The unsaved world has no use for those who deal in moral absolutes. After all, if there is absolute truth then there must be a God who absolutely will hold us responsible for our sins.

Here is my private message to him that elicited his response,

I’m sending this to you privately because I do not wish to discredit (his fiancé’s name) in public. Have you ever read II Cor. 6:15? It says, “Do not be yoked together with unbelievers. For what do righteousness and wickedness have in common? Or what fellowship can light have with darkness?” My prayer for you is that before you marry (his fiancé’s name), you would cast off your enmity for God and embrace Jesus Christ as your personal Lord and Savior. My prayer for (his fiancé’s name) is that should you not embrace Him as your personal Lord and Savior that she would call off the wedding. That sounds harsh, but I say it and pray it out of love fer her and fear of what her life would be with a non-believer.”

This was my final message to the Christian young lady.

“Just a personal note to let you know I love you. It truly worries me that Christians believe it is OK to live the homosexual lifestyle. Nobody’s sin is any greater than any other sin. However, a person in a homosexual lifestyle means they have deserted how God made them. They are saying that God is a liar when He says homosexuality is wrong. A practicing homosexual says we must accept and love them no matter what they do and no matter how much what they do goes against God’s standard. Must we love them? ABSOLUTELY! We must love them enough to tell them the truth that they are in sin and must repent of that sin, just was WE must daily repent of our sins. It that means they hate us for telling them the truth, so be it. If we do NOT tell them the truth, then their blood is on our hands and we will be held accountable by God for allowing them to continue in their sin. Ezekiel 33 says, “As surely as I live, declares the Sovereign Lord, I take no pleasure in the death of the wicked, but rather that they turn from their ways and live. Turn! Turn from your evil ways! Why will you die…”

So, what do you think? How do we, as Christians, address non-believers and Christians on subjects such as this? Would you view what I said as hatred, or was I the hated?

-Jeff Adams lives in New Albany and  worships with the Cherry Street Church of Christ.

March Madness or Eternal Gladness?

 JeffAdamsThis is the time of year when nearly all of Kentuckiana talks little else than college basketball. As selection Sunday is now upon us there are teams that have already won automatic bids, those who are no doubt in, those left out, and a large number of bubble teams. For those teams on the bubble, the NCAA Tournament Committee looks at their season’s results and determines their worthiness for inclusion in March Madness. Sports channels, even the local news, report what bubble teams coaches have to say about their teams’ chances of making it in the “big dance”. Here’s what one coach said after a possibly season-ending loss, “My thing right now is, the good news is everyone seems to be losing and I just hope we’re the best of the bad right now. That’s what I’m hoping.”

You might wonder why I’m talking about basketball on a Christian blog. Our guest speaker at Cherry Street last Sunday, Paul Kitzmiller, said many people are looking for the minimum requirements for salvation. He further said that we should be striving to more fully serve and obey God rather than doing the least we can. When we stand before God, it won’t help to tell Him we “deserve” to get in because we weren’t all THAT bad, or we were at least better than others. Of course, we are not saved by works but by faith. However, James, by inspiration of the Holy Spirit said, “What good it is…if someone claims to have faith but had no deeds? Can such faith save them….faith by itself, if it is not accompanied by action, is dead…Show me your faith without deeds, and I will show you my faith by by my deeds.”

 It doesn’t matter how good that coach thinks his team is, but what they have proven this season on the court. It doesn’t matter how deserving we think we are of heaven. It is our relationship with Jesus Christ that assures us of eternal salvation. It is that relationship that spurs us to do our utmost for Him. The Apostle Paul said, “Do not be deceived; God is not mocked, for whatever a man sows, that he will also reap. For he who sows to his own flesh will from the flesh reap corruption; but he who sows to the Spirit will from the Spirit reap eternal life. And let us not grow weary in well-doing, for in due season we shall reap, if we do not lose heart. So then, as we have opportunity, let us do good to all men, and especially to those who are of the household of faith.” Let’s not lose heart. As His kingdom is fast approaching we should be more and more about our Lord’s business. There is no excuse for being “on the bubble” of heaven’s gate.

Is Honesty The Best Policy?

JeffAdamsI keep the scorebook for the Portland High School JV boy’s basketball team, and sometimes the varsity as well. A couple of Saturdays ago, the boys were playing JV and varsity games at Trinity Whitesville, near Owensboro, Kentucky. Just before the start of the second half of the JV game, the home scorekeeper told me she had made a mistake on the possession arrow. She had forgotten to switch it at the start of the second quarter. The possession arrow erroneously indicated it would be PCHS’ ball to start the third quarter.

At the time, our JV was behind by 8 points and getting the ball to start the half could make a big difference. I told her she should switch the arrow and award the ball to Trinity. She was shocked! “But that’s not to your advantage.” she said. “No, but it’s far more important to do the the right thing.” I replied. She just could not get over the idea that I was not as concerned about winning as about doing the right thing.

While a relatively minor item, being honest starts with the little things. Luke 16:10 says, “He who is faithful in a very little thing is faithful also in much; and he who is unrighteous in a very little thing is unrighteous also in much.” It’s not so often the “big sin” that gets us but the accumulation of all the small ones. Those little white lies can be so easily spoken. Shading the truth for even what seems to be at the time a good reason can be the beginning of our destruction. Heb. 12:1 says, “…let us strip off every weight that slows us down, especially the sin that so easily trips us up. And let us run with endurance the race God has set before us.” Our battle is not one quarter or even one half. It’s a full length, full court, contest. One that can only be won by depending upon Him. Remember Heb. 4:15 tells us, “For we do not have a high priest who cannot sympathize with our weaknesses, but One who has been tempted in all things as we are, yet without sin.” Let’s remember our big brother has shown us the perfect way.

In case you’re wondering, the JV lost the game by about 20 points. The varsity won by nearly the same margin. Late in the first half, with the score still close, the home scorekeeper lost track of how many fouls a player had. She asked me how many I showed on him and, without hesitating, changed the official scorebook to my figure. I guess honesty IS the best policy, after all.

Woodland Bible Camp Update

JeffAdamsThis year is Woodland Bible Camp’s 59th year.  Since 1954, God has used WBC to introduce Christ to children and encourage them in their walk.  Of course, WBC is not JUST for children.  Even the most senior of citizens can become young at heart and enjoy the blessings of camp life.

As a WBC board member, one of the campers emailed me a question just the other day.  She wanted to know if I could sum up the work of WBC in one verse.  I looked at my wife and we both thought of the same verse.  “Train up a child in the way he should go, and when he is old he will not depart far from it.”  Can we guarantee every child that has ever attended WBC has always remained faithful to the Lord?  Unfortunately not.  Can we guarantee that every child who has ever attended WBC has been exposed to the Word of God?  Absolutely!  It is that living Word of God that we confidently instill with the expectation that He will bring about amazing results for His kingdom.

If your church would like to hear more about what WBC is doing, how it can bless your church, and what plans are in store for this year and beyond, please contact me!  My email  address is   jeffreywadams58@gmail.com.  My cell phone number is (812) 987-6006.  I’ve been blessed to speak on behalf of WBC for the last 3 years.  I can share a multimedia presentation complete with videos or present a traditional sermon with just a short blurb about WBC.  There is absolutely no fee expected, nor accepted, for the joy of sharing what He is doing through this special work.

The camp website is Woodlandbiblecamp.org.

Yes, WBC has embarked upon it’s 59th year and, should the Lord tarry, is rapidly approaching number 60.  Come, be a part of what God is doing!

 

Forty Years And Counting

Today is Jan. 19th, 2013. 40 years ago today, the United States Supreme Court (SCOTUS) was putting the final touches on the Roe v. Wade decision. Their disregard for adhering to judicial precedent has resulted in the deaths of over 55 million babies.

I read on the PBS website, “Though by no means the Supreme Court’s most important decision, Roe v. Wade remains its most recognized.” I would disagree. A SCOTUS decision that has lead to 55 million United States citizens’ deaths HAS to be THE most important case.

A few facts:

  • Each and every day in America, there are more babies aborted by their mothers than Americans killed on 9/11.
  • Every single year, this silent horror kills about as many Americans as have been killed on all the battlefields in all of the wars in U.S. history combined.
  • In 2012, their were about 15,000 murders in the US.  There were about 1,100,000 abortions in the US.
  • 41% of all New York pregnancies end in abortion.
  • 52% of all African-American pregnancies end in abortion.

Planned Parenthood performs over 300,000 abortions each year.  They also receive about half a billion dollars in US taxpayers’ money each year.

Please help the cause of the unborn. Ministers around the nation are being asked to advocate this Sunday for life. If your minister is not doing so, you can still ask for congregational prayer for the unborn about to be killed by their mothers. You can ask that those women who have killed their own children will repent and seek the Lord’s forgiveness.

Finally, may our nation respond to the challenge God puts before us in 2 Chronicles 7:14, “If my people, who are called by my name, will humble themselves and pray and seek my face and turn from their wicked ways, then will I hear from heaven and will forgive their sin and will heal their land.”

-Jeff Adams, January 19, 2013

Character Traits of Joseph, Husband of Mary (Part 2)

After the birth of Jesus, Joseph again heeded God’s command and took the baby and Mary to Egypt. Hundreds of years earlier, Joseph, son of Jacob, had been sold into slavery and forcibly taken to Egypt. This young family’s freedom and safety would depend upon journeying to the land that once enslaved their nation. It makes you wonder what thoughts Mary and Joseph had as they made their escape. Could they possibly find refuge as Jews in a foreign land? Then, at the proper time, he once again obeyed God’s command to return his family to their homeland. Oh, that we could be so faithful to go where and when our Lord commands us.

During the time in Egypt and once they made a new home in Nazareth, Joseph raised his oldest son as would any good Jewish father. He taught him the family trade. Like his father, he became a carpenter. A carpenter takes ordinary wood and crafts useful tools and specialty items. God used ordinary matter to create all that is around us.

Joseph taught Jesus to be an observant Jewish young man. We see a result of his religious training when he remained behind at the temple in Jerusalem. Jesus was holding court, as it were, with the most learned of Jewish teachers. We are told that everyone who heard him was amazed at his understanding. Yet, when his parents came, he obeyed them (the first commandment with a promise) and grew in wisdom and stature.

Some would say this is the last time Joseph is mentioned in the Bible. That’s not quite accurate, though. After he was grown, Jesus was referred to as “the carpenter’s son” and the “son of Joseph”. Clearly, the trust God placed in Joseph in raising the baby Jesus into a man was well-placed. In Joseph, we see a compassionate man who had pity on his betrothed. A man who heeded God’s commands and warnings. A man who lived out his beliefs and held strongly to his convictions. A self-controlled man sensitive to the needs of others. A man entrusted with a great responsibility, and who lived up to it even though it meant public ridicule. Kinda reminds you of his son, doesn’t it.

Next time – Cornelius.

Character Traits of Joseph, Husband of Mary (Part 1)

Our men’s class at Cherry Street has recently been studying various men of the of the Bible.  We just completed considering Joseph, the son of Jacob, the husband of Mary.  In reading Matt. 1:18-25, we can observe many of the wonderful character traits of the man entrusted to raise the child Jesus.

In Joseph, we see a man of strong moral and religious convictions.  When confronted with the news that his betrothed was pregnant, Joseph KNEW that he was not the father of the unborn child.  She had obviously sinned.  What would he do?  He weighed his choices.  He could do what most men in his position would do.  He could divorce her and expose her to public ridicule, possibly even death.  Or he could take her home to be his wife.  But this would be tantamount to admitting that he had participated with her in the sin.  That would bring dishonor both upon him and his father’s house.

After weighing these two options, his love for her was such that he decided to divorce her quietly, not wishing for her any public disgrace or punishment.  Compassion for those who are, as he supposed her to be, found in sin, is a trait that Jesus showed on many occasions.  How can we, whom he has showered with compassion, not honor his example by showing compassion on those He brings our way?

Yet, when an angel of the Lord appeared to Joseph, he obeyed God’s instructions.  He took her to be his wife, knowing full well that he would have people, even his family members and friends, whisper about his “transgression”.  The public humiliation that he wished to spare Mary, he would now share with her.  Obeying God no matter what it may cost us, our fortune, our reputation, even our very life, is  what we are called to do for Him who gave His all for us.

Next time, we’ll continue our look at some of Joseph’s character traits.

-Jeff Adams