Tuesday, August 1, 2017

All In This Together

Christians who have an unforgiving attitude surely think: your sins are greater than mine. We want to be more righteous than our Christian brothers and sisters, even though just thinking that makes us less so!

The most often quoted scripture is not John 3:16, but:
Matthew 7:1 Judge not, that ye be not judged.
People don't want to be judged! It is my speculation that those who sin most quote this the most. We all know that we sin, and compare it to others. I have even thought: Paul had a thorn in his side, and he was an apostle.  If Paul was impaled with the many quills of a porcupine, that would be few compared to my quiver of barbs from Satan! Paul's spiritual condition has no bearing on mine. He was a sinner just as I am. God held him accountable, and he holds me accountable.

I am not able to sin freely just because Paul sinned. We both were bought with a price in that Jesus paid with his own blood. He didn't die that we can sin, but died because of our sin. How silly we become with our faulty reasoning!

Paul spoke to the Romans about sin -  food, drink, and even what days to do what. The Hebrews always faulted Gentiles for unclean activities, even though their own hearts were dirty:
Romans 14:10 "But why dost thou judge thy brother? or why dost thou set at nought thy brother? for we shall all stand before the judgment seat of Christ. 11 For it is written, As I live, saith the Lord, every knee shall bow to me, and every tongue shall confess to God. 12 So then every one of us shall give account of himself to God. 13 Let us not therefore judge one another any more..."
Always ask when it says "for it is written", where was it written and by whom? That was written in Isaiah 45:23 by Isaiah as God's Word to Cyrus, the great king of Persia.  God was telling Cyrus in effect: you are all in this together, and nationality and rank is of no significance! Then God used Cyrus to restore His chosen people. The Jews believed the Persians, as all Gentiles, to be dirty, but they had no qualms about letting an unclean people save them!

In Paul's time the Jews judged the Gentile Romans. They too were an unclean people. Well, God forbid - they weren't even circumcised yet had the audacity to call themselves Christians! You see, Christianity is what's inside. We are to love God, and each other. The problem with comparing sins is that by doing so, Christians condemn others:
Luke 6:37 "Judge not, and ye shall not be judged: condemn not, and ye shall not be condemned: forgive, and ye shall be forgiven..."
Romans 2:1 "Therefore thou art inexcusable, O man, whosoever thou art that judgest: for wherein thou judgest another, thou condemnest thyself; for thou that judgest doest the same things."
There are sins of lesser importance, and sins of greater importance. The often said cliche': stealing a piece of bubble gum is as bad as murder, is just that. All sin which has not been repented of leads to death, but that does not make one sin greater than another! Some sins are greater than others, and from scripture it is obvious that failure to love is the greatest sin. Indeed, hate is compared to murder! (1 John 3:15). However, although they are equated as equal, it is because either one, if not repented of, leads to death!

The problem, as seen form Luke 6:37 is why people judge; it is to condemn, and as such harsh and unfair judgment is the issue. If Christians harshly judge others, they too will be judged harshly. Those people who hold grudges for years are in much trouble with God because grudges are failure to forgive. In effect the transgressor who judges is saying: your sin is greater than mine, so I will snub you and make your life miserable. Isolation is punishment, and grudge holders isolate others as severe punishment -  withholding love is hateful! Those who hold grudges harbor hate. They murder the spirit of those they judge.

We are all in this together! "We all have sinned and come short of the glory of God." (Rom 3:23). If you are alive you belong to a not-so-exclusive club. We are all sinners! Accept, now your membership in Sinners Divided, a club where one sinner blames his or her fellow sinner for all sorts of trespasses which they are guilty of themselves! We are united in that we're all sinners, but sin divides us. We compare sins, and set up this club with Masonic-type degrees:
  • First degree sinner - sees oneself as without sin
  • Second degree sinner - is forgiven of all sins, and is proud of that accomplishment.
  • Third Degree sinner -  their own sins are trivial compared to others.
  • Fourth degree sinner - isolate themselves from those who sin worse.
  • Fifth degree sinner - hold grudges against others who have sinned.
  • Sixth degree sinner - gossips and condemns others who have sinned.
  • Seventh degree sinner - drops all pretenses - ceases to even claim friendship.
  • Eighth degree sinner -  creates a Christian enemies stratum. Snubs other sinners as too unclean.
  • Ninth degree sinner - actually believes that God wants them to not forgive.
  • Tenth degree sinner - behaves joyfully in their own righteousness. Has no empathy for others.
  • Eleventh degree sinner - proudly declares: "I will never forgive this person."
  • Twelvth degree sinner - Still feels they deserve eternal life even though their subtle hatred is murdering the spirit of another.
  • No degree sinners -  those who realize that we're all sinners together, and love each other, even those who sins are different.
Which degree a sinner are you? I endeavor to be beyond degree because any one of those types of sinners are deluded. We're all in this together! My sin can be forgiven as yours can. Jesus so loved the world - that is the sinners, that he wants that none should perish; yet you do! I know, you don't hold yourself accountable for your exclusion of other sinners, but after all, their sin is greater than yours, and they deserve your hatred!

We are not to judge one another any more. Paul asked us to refrain from comparing whose sin is greater. We are to love one another with no stipulations - even those who have wronged us. In fact, until we reconcile with each other, God doesn't even want to see our lousy faces:
Matthew 5:23 "Therefore if thou bring thy gift to the altar, and there rememberest that thy brother hath ought against thee; 24 Leave there thy gift before the altar, and go thy way; first be reconciled to thy brother, and then come and offer thy gift."
Note that this is even if "thy brother has ought against thee", indicating that who is at fault is of no consequence to God. Reconciliation is to bring two sinners back to unity. If they were friends before, they are friends again. If they were enemies before, they become friends!

How do we reconcile?
Ephesians 4:32 "And be ye kind one to another, tenderhearted, forgiving one another, even as God for Christ's sake hath forgiven you."
We forgive others for being just as we are - poor sinners in need of forgiveness! Jesus forgives and forgets. We say, "I'll forgive but never forget!" That is not forgiving. Just as Jesus loves us as we are forgiven, we are to love others who we forgive. Essentially, there is no reason not to love, and love cannot be without being friends, or better yet - sisters and brothers!

What do people need to do? Change! Become that new creation which we claim to be who loves God and others. Be tenderhearted and kind, and forgive without remembering. 

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