Another writing from my friend.
Tuesday, June 2, 2020
Luke 6:37-42 New King James Version (NKJV)
Do Not Judge
37 “Judge not, and you shall not be judged. Condemn not, and you shall not be condemned. Forgive, and you will be forgiven. 38 Give, and it will be given to you: good measure, pressed down, shaken together, and running over will be put into your bosom. For with the same measure that you use, it will be measured back to you.”
39 And He spoke a parable to them: “Can the blind lead the blind? Will they not both fall into the ditch? 40 A disciple is not above his teacher, but everyone who is perfectly trained will be like his teacher. 41 And why do you look at the speck in your brother’s eye, but do not perceive the plank in your own eye? 42 Or how can you say to your brother, ‘Brother, let me remove the speck that is in your eye,’ when you yourself do not see the plank that is in your own eye? Hypocrite! First remove the plank from your own eye, and then you will see clearly to remove the speck that is in your brother’s eye.
Our reading for yesterday was from Deuteronomy 8-10. Deuteronomy is Moses' recounting to the people of Israel a summation of all the experience from Egypt to the Land of Canaan. He reminds the current generation of Israel, all of whom were born after the rebellion of their fathers, of the magnitude of their sin and faithlessness to God. This is not about recounting the sins of Israel. There was an appeal for repentance to the people. Today I am thinking about you and me and repentance.
How do you and I respond to the unrest and turmoil in our nation? Is there anger? Fear? Animosity? Some of all of those and more? It is very easy to recount the sins of others, and in doing so, imagine ourselves being very different in God's eyes. Thinking about this brought Daniel 9:3-19 to mind. Daniel is one of the few people included in the Bible about whom we know more than a passing mention of whom no sin is mentioned. Daniel was a man who had God's ear, I suspect in part, because God was quite accustomed to hearing from Daniel. Daniel 9 includes his intercessory prayer for the people who had been exiled to Babylon. Even though no sin is mentioned regarding Daniel, he prayed as though he was the same sort of sinner as the rest of his people.
It is also interesting to me that Daniel was praying in the promise of God. Whether God would have moved apart from Daniel's petition that He fulfill His own prophetic word or not is beside the point. We know that God keeps His word. It is also worth noting that even though God was going to do what He promised, even so, He responded to Daniel's prayer. But what does this have to do with you and me? I have purposefully avoided watching much of the news about the current protests and civil disobedience. And yes some of it has been far beyond protest. It stirs up a response in me that is not healthy. It reminds me that I need to repent for some of the attitudes I have held, attitudes that I do not consider to be racially motivated, but that are in response to cultural and societal norms that are foreign to me.
Two brief points and I will leave it to you. The first is something the Lord showed me about twenty years ago. The church Kathy and I were part of at the time had a midweek prayer meeting. That evening was a come and go affair where each prayed as led, and when through, simply left. I was praying from scripture that night, and I thought I was done. Kathy was engaged in a deep conversation with a friend and so I sat down away from them, not wanting to disturb them. While waiting, I listened for a reference and got either Matthew or Luke's account of the teaching about the speck and the plank in the eye. I was a bit taken aback by the suggestion that I had a plank in my eye. After processing that for a moment, I asked the Lord how one removes the plank from his eye. His answer in the same voice that I hear the scripture references was, "You cry it out." There is quite likely some crying about the current season in our nation that you and I should be doing, for our own attitudes and any self-justification that we have permitted ourselves for harboring negative feelings on a personal level. Then, having prayed for our own attitudes and feelings, we should pray for our society and our nation.
It is still time, the perfect time, to pray for revival. Only the Spirit of the Living God that can mend what is wrong in our nation and in the world. It would be quite human to be angry in response to anger and bitterness expressed in violence and destruction, and especially toward those who use these things as an opportunity to loot and destroy businesses. Yes, quite human. But you and I are called to be different. And we are not bound to give a human response. Having prayed about the planks, yes, indeed some of us may have entire log cabins in our eyes, we should still be praying for a move of the Holy Spirit in these times. There will be three responses in people. Those in whom there is no response to the call of the Spirit may continue unaffected, either in hostility to the call of God, or apathy. But some will respond positively from the heart. We should be praying for them, and we can be praying for them. But only after a prayer of repentance for ourselves, whether for the nation at large as Daniel prayed, or for our own specific sins of class division and self- justification for long-held animosities.
Father forgive me. I have held negative feelings and attitudes toward people who are different from me, at least in my estimation. Not having experienced the same things they have, I imagine their grievances to be unimportant or easy to dismiss. Forgive me. Let me not imagine their sin to be somehow more evil than my own. You sent Jesus to seek and to save the lost. May I be a participant in that effort. Not as one who is holier, but as a sinner who has been saved by grace. To do these things Father, I need Your Holy Spirit in me, to guide, to point out places where I have held onto things I need to release, and to allow to be washed away in the atoning blood of Jesus. Give me godly thoughts, but only after exposing places to me where I have harbored ungodly ones. Grant me direction and discretion in my words that I speak of life, and not of death. Empower my actions that they be ones that bring honor to You Father. In the name of Jesus may these things be true in me.