2011-05-06_1311-00_SigmaCam4985

Recently, I’ve brought up thought-provoking Scripture passages about Christians before the Judgment Seat of Jesus, an impeding reality which I hope has caused believers to seriously pause and consider.

Over the past few years, a good friend of mine—a brother very zealous for discipleship and maturity in the body of Christ—and I have discussed this topic. We have looked at several biblical passages, but I’d like to focus in on a few that, although one of them puzzles me, has brought about some changes in my thinking and behavior because of the reality that I will one day stand before Jesus.

The first comes from Jesus Himself:

“The good person out of his good treasure brings forth good, and the evil person out of his evil treasure brings forth evil. I tell you, on the day of judgment people will give account for every careless word they speak, for by your words you will be justified, and by your words you will be condemned” (Matthew 12:35–37). 1

“People” will give account for their careless words. “People,” to state the obvious, means you and me. Now, do I speak careless words? Yes, I do. Am I an evil person, bringing forth evil from an evil treasure? With a sizeable gulp, I must admit that I am. I have la-dee-dah-ed my way over this verse for many years. I need help, and I am asking the Lord for that help, speedily, especially when I read what Paul wrote, which adds heft, as if it was needed, to Jesus’ teaching.

“Why do you pass judgment on your brother? Or you, why do you despise your brother? For we will all stand before the judgment seat of God; for it is written, ‘As I live, says the Lord, every knee shall bow to me, and every tongue shall confess to God.’ So then each of us will give an account of himself to God” (Romans 14:10–12).

Here, Paul is dealing with our judgmental attitudes toward fellow Christians and links this behavior to despising them. We will give an account to God for this.

Am I now more careful with what I say about other Christians, other people? Yes, I am. I am becoming more cognizant of the necessity of grace in how I view people and understand that it is not only useless to say condemning, critical words about them, but damaging to me, as well. I will give an account for these words. The Lord is aware of the spiritual conditions of these individuals. It may seem painfully obvious to almost everyone that they are not only on the wrong track but perhaps living disastrously off any track whatsoever except one that leads to death. They are sinners, without question. What should my response be? Compassion. Love. Prayer. I don’t know what these folks have been through that has brought them to this state. What trauma. What tragedy. What lack. For me to criticize them is useless folly. For me to feel compassionate is godly. For me to pray for them is useful, not useless—and not in danger of giving account before Jesus.

Concerning Christian brothers and sisters, as Paul wrote, they, like me, will give an account to Jesus for what they have said and done. However, how should I respond to a Christian’s sin? Paul tells us.

“Brothers, if anyone is caught in any transgression, you who are spiritual should restore him in a spirit of gentleness. Keep watch on yourself, lest you too be tempted. Bear one another’s burdens, and so fulfill the law of Christ” (Galatians 6:1–2).

I notice here that this restoration would require me to know this errant brother or sister. A lot of what we hear is from people speaking on different media, people whom we have never met. I can do very little about this. I don’t know them. They don’t know me. They will not receive correction from me.

So, what should I do with such things? Ignore them? No, although remedies are few. Just today, on Facebook, I challenged a popular meme offered in a post about “releasing grace” over a city. The man who said it—I do not condemn him and made that clear. God will judge him, not I. However, I feel compelled to confront unbiblical statements, although I also realize that such challenges and subsequent discussions are more than likely ineffectual. In fact, I’m not sure, even if I knew this fellow, that my challenge would have any positive effect. It’s just the way the Christian world is—perhaps has always been. Nevertheless, we are to be truth-tellers—biblical truth tellers. Compassionate truth-tellers. Strong but loving truth-tellers. We must not cease.

The passage that puzzles me? I have run out of time and space. We will look at it next week.

 

1All Scripture quotations are from The Holy Bible: English Standard Version. (2016). Wheaton: Standard Bible Society.

Advertisements