Saturday, October 26, 2013

Calling Up Grace

There's something I've been thinking about for quite some time now.  In fact, I mostly think about these things and occasionally write about this is something I've been chewing on...mulling over...praying over...

I believe it's time.

I believe it's time to call people up.  Notice I said, "up," not "out."  Because this isn't a confrontation.  It's an invitation.  To what?  To take off the blinders and hold the mirror up to our faces; to let His truth and light be known as we let go of hypocrisy and let His Spirit cleanse us of that which is...I'll say it...


 James 1:22-26

But don’t just listen to God’s word. You must do what it says. Otherwise, you are only fooling yourselves. For if you listen to the word and don’t obey, it is like glancing at your face in a mirror.  You see yourself, walk away, and forget what you look like.  But if you look carefully into the perfect law that sets you free, and if you do what it says and don’t forget what you heard, then God will bless you for doing it. If you claim to be religious but don’t control your tongue, you are fooling yourself, and your religion is worthless.

James 2:1-12

My dear brothers and sisters,[a] how can you claim to have faith in our glorious Lord Jesus Christ if you favor some people over others? For example, suppose someone comes into your meeting[b] dressed in fancy clothes and expensive jewelry, and another comes in who is poor and dressed in dirty clothes. If you give special attention and a good seat to the rich person, but you say to the poor one, “You can stand over there, or else sit on the floor”—well, doesn’t this discrimination show that your judgments are guided by evil motives? Listen to me, dear brothers and sisters. Hasn’t God chosen the poor in this world to be rich in faith? Aren’t they the ones who will inherit the Kingdom he promised to those who love him? But you dishonor the poor! Isn’t it the rich who oppress you and drag you into court? Aren’t they the ones who slander Jesus Christ, whose noble name[c] you bear?
Yes indeed, it is good when you obey the royal law as found in the Scriptures: “Love your neighbor as yourself.”[d] But if you favor some people over others, you are committing a sin. You are guilty of breaking the law.  For the person who keeps all of the laws except one is as guilty as a person who has broken all of God’s laws. 11 For the same God who said, “You must not commit adultery,” also said, “You must not murder.”[e] So if you murder someone but do not commit adultery, you have still broken the law.  So whatever you say or whatever you do, remember that you will be judged by the law that sets you free. There will be no mercy for those who have not shown mercy to others. But if you have been merciful, God will be merciful when he judges you.

Galations 6:1-5
Dear brothers and sisters, if another believer[a] is overcome by some sin, you who are godly[b] should gently and humbly help that person back onto the right path. And be careful not to fall into the same temptation yourself.  Share each other’s burdens, and in this way obey the law of Christ.  If you think you are too important to help someone, you are only fooling yourself. You are not that important.
 Pay careful attention to your own work, for then you will get the satisfaction of a job well done, and you won’t need to compare yourself to anyone else.For we are each responsible for our own conduct.

Mark 9:38-41
John said to Jesus, “Teacher, we saw someone using your name to cast out demons, but we told him to stop because he wasn’t in our group.”
“Don’t stop him!” Jesus said. “No one who performs a miracle in my name will soon be able to speak evil of me.  Anyone who is not against us is for us.  If anyone gives you even a cup of water because you belong to the Messiah, I tell you the truth, that person will surely be rewarded.

Romans 14
Who are you to judge another’s servant? To his own master he stands or falls. Indeed, he will be made to stand, for God is able to make him stand.

But why do you judge your brother? Or why do you show contempt for your brother? For we shall all stand before the judgment seat of Christ.[c] 11 For it is written:
As I live, says the Lord,
Every knee shall bow to Me,
And every tongue shall confess to God.”[d]

So then each of us shall give account of himself to God. Therefore let us not judge one another anymore, but rather resolve this, not to put a stumbling block or a cause to fall in our brother’s way.
Therefore let us pursue the things which make for peace and the things by which one may edify another.

Proverbs 17:5
Whoever mocks the poor shows contempt for their Maker; whoever gloats over disaster will not go unpunished.

Proverbs 14:17
He who has pity on the poor lends to the Lord,
And He will pay back what he has given.

There it is - favoritism.  It seems so...small, doesn't it?  Harmless, even?  Don't we all have our favorites, if we're actually honest?  True, we may feel a certain way - after all, we're still flesh and blood, and it's normal to feel closer to some people than others, however, God's word clearly commands us not to show partiality, or favoritism, in how we treat others.  

It's easy to agree with the example given here in scripture - rich and poor - and I think we can all obviously see how wrong it is.  

So let's dig a little deeper.  

What about the spiritually poor?  Immature?  Dirty, even?  What about those who come to fellowship and are difficult to be around?  What if they're wounded?  Bleeding?  Dressed wrong? What if it's none of that but sadly our pride that calls them less for a made up or ill perceived reason?  What if we just don't like them?  What if they don't have spiritual status?  Can we spiritually justify treating them as less than?  Why would we even try?  When we treat other brothers and sisters as "less than," what have we become?  Well, the word calls us "judges with evil thoughts/motives." (James 2:4)


It's that serious.  It's not harmless.  It's not small.

When we oppress the poor, we are like the blasphemers who dragged the poor to court.  If we really are obeying God's royal law, we will love others as we love ourselves.  We will treat others how we want to be treated.  We won't have an inner circle others must earn their way into in order to be loved or truly to minister to, or minister with.  It's not about "us" and "them," because we are one body and Christ is the Head. If we are truly loving others as He loves us and has command us to, we simply will not show partiality and favoritism.

Let me break it down very clearly:

favoritism/partiality = SIN

When we treat others with partiality, we're guilty of breaking God's law just like an adulterer or murderer has.  I find it fascinating these are the two examples given when addressing favoritism.  Not lying or stealing or some nicer sounding sin. But unfaithfulness and hate.  Guilty. 

Let's all be really honest here.  When we let it be known (through words or actions, whether by gossip barely cloaked in concern or insinuation with raised eyebrows) that "they" are just not as worthy or deserving of our time, energy, effort, prayer and service as someone else is, we have become evil judges. We are not leading people closer to Jesus, but hindering them, hurting them, and stumbling them.  Christ warns us not to cause the young in Him to stumble.  It breaks His heart, and He takes this seriously.  (Mark 9:42.)

We must ask - deep down, in my innermost being, do I pride myself on my service or wisdom or knowledge or position or status?  How do I react when someone corrects me or tells me I am wrong? Proudly?  Angrily?  If so, we must stop. It's hurting us, and it's hurting the bride of Christ.  He is the One who sees our hearts' intentions, and at times He is grieved.  Sadly, there will be naive and immature people who will willingly believe and follow us, especially if we keep telling them they are to submit.  They will have to suppress the truth in unrighteousness to keep going along with what is, in truth, deception. In this we are not doing the Lord's work - we are working against Him.  Jesus said, "As you've done to the least of these my brethren, you've done it to me!" He desires we bring encouraging refreshment in His name.  (Matthew 10:42)  He desires calling up,  helping up, and bearing one another's burdens instead of putting people down under our we can rest our feet on their backs...

The poor - the least of these. 
The immature.
Those who disagree with us.
Those who don't take our advice.
Those we just don't like.
The way we've hurt and ostracized and rejected them, sadly, sickeningly, in the Lord's name even, we must realize we've done it to Him.  Will we hear this?  Will we humble our hearts and repent?

To those who are leading, whether it be family or fellowship, we are not at the top of a power pyramid.  Jesus said being great in His kingdom means being servant of all!  When we mock or belittle others because they have not lived up to our standard we are being judges with evil motives. We are showing contempt for God. For God! Let's sit with that for a minute.

He fashioned each one in His very image, and leaders are no better than anyone else.  God's will is that each one will stand before Him, not that we would tear each other down. Have we forgotten the sweet, simple fact that it's all grace?
That's our remedy!  Grace! Mercy! Peace! Edification! Mercy triumphs over judgement!!  Thank You, Jesus!  Realize that everyone of us needs grace and mercy every day.  When we are real about our own need for mercy and grace, it's so easy to allow it to pour over onto the people around us.  Let's be those who pursue and chase after peace with each other.  Let's let God be God and stop acting like we are God Who sees inside people's hearts.  (1 Samuel 16:7.)  Listen, people disagreeing with us does not equal people disagreeing with Him. Please understand, leaders are not the Holy Spirit and we do not have special access to God.  We must not allow people to treat us like we do!  We must be honest and humble and upfront about this truth.

Body, hold your leaders accountable.  It is so easy to speak the truth so well, yet refuse to humbly recognize our own sin.  There are those who pervert the truth and take advantage of the bride, placing themselves in the driver's seat of other's lives where only our Great Shepherd belongs.  Body, if we treat our "leaders" differently, unquestioningly obeying even when God's very Spirit living inside us is warning us something is wrong, we are showing favoritism/partiality as well.  If we belong to a fellowship where we feel we are not truly supposed to ask and question and talk and are actively encouraged to hold leaders (servants) accountable, run!  Find somewhere else to fellowship.  Because we are not to be following men who say the right things but do another, but Jesus, the Author and Finisher of our faith!  The Holy Spirit leads us into all understanding.  He shows no favoritism.  He died for all. He loves all - unconditionally, poor or rich, sweet or difficult.  He lavishes grace and mercy on every single one of us.

If you are reading this, I pray you will be one who will allow God to lavish His great love and mercy and grace and peace on you! May you never forget you are destitute without Him!  May you treat those He has allowed in your care with that same grace, mercy, and love He is pouring out on you.  His people are precious!! Love them, and leave the judgement up to God.  Let go of the "us" and "them" mentality.  The question isn't "Can you get behind me on this?" but "Will you follow Jesus with all your heart, mind, and strength?  Will you get behind Him?"  Bear one another's burdens and so fulfill the law of Christ! Edify each other!  Have the mind of Christ, who made Himself of no reputation and humbled Himself to the point of death. Let nothing be done through selfish ambition or conceit, but in lowliness of mind let each esteem others better than himself. Let each of you look out not only for his own interests, but also for the interests of others. (Phil. 2)  

Ask the LORD, "Who do You want me to lift up today?" and then do it!

Lord, take us deeper - we want to know Your heart.

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