Romans 2:1 – Therefore you are inexcusable, O man, whoever you are who judge, for in whatever you judge another you condemn yourself; for you who judge practice the same things. (NKJV)
Here in North America, society seems to be evolving to a state where everyone — irrespective of gender, race, culture, religion, or political views — has equal freedom to hold and practice their beliefs. Simultaneously, however, individuals seem to be increasingly intolerant of divergent viewpoints. How do we as Christians fit into this scenario?
An ordained minister once told me that he had never been hurt as badly as he had been by people of the church! Wait … what?! Shouldn't church people support their minister?
Matthew 22:37,39b – Jesus said to him, "You shall love the Lord your God with all your heart, with all your soul, and with all your mind. You shall love your neighbour as yourself." (NKJV)
Note that the Scripture does not say, "You shall love those of the same race, similar education, identical political views, parallel religious beliefs, or comparable economic circumstances."
How easy it is for us, who profess to be Christians, to openly judge other people! Maybe we don't mean to be judgmental when we say, "Did you see that skirt she is wearing? It is far too short for church." How would Jesus react here? I can imagine His telling a parable that contradicted the myriad of "holy rules" that the Pharisees invoked. Maybe He would quote, "I have stretched out My hands all day long to a rebellious people." (Isaiah 65:2a NKJV) He would certainly focus on the fact that the woman with the short skirt was indeed at church!
In a Bible study class, have you ever felt put down because you didn't know your Bible as well as the other person? When we lead such classes, we must ensure that we speak in love and not with arrogance that makes another feel unwelcome. We know that Jesus so often rebuked the "wise" religious leaders, who pretended to be so pious. I think that He would rejoice that someone was trying to deepen their relationship with Him. Perhaps He would refer to Proverbs 8:12 – "I, wisdom, dwell with prudence, and find out knowledge and discretion." (NKJV)
What about when we pass a beggar on the street and think, "He could get a job if he just stopped drinking"? Jesus speaks directly to this situation and tells us that every time we feed someone who is hungry, "inasmuch as you did it to one of the least of these My brethren, you did it to Me." (Matthew 25:40b NKJV)
As Christians, we are called to a higher standard of behaviour. We may not agree with the opinions or the choices of many in society, but Jesus has instructed us that His number one commandment is to love others like we love ourselves.
Prayer: Dear Lord, You have perfectly formed each one of us. Each of us is a unique creation of Yours with individual hair and skin colour, height, and weight. Likewise, You have given us unique, complex emotions, thoughts, and opinions. Help us, Lord, to remember Your instructions to love others when we encounter people who do not share our opinions and values. Lord, we are Your hands and feet on this earth. Help us to show Your compassion and love, even in circumstances that may make us uncomfortable. Amen.
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Listen while you read: "Standing On The Promises" (Lyrics)