Wednesday, July 3, 2013

Ambassadors Of Grace

In our culture when we disagree with someone it is often taken as a lack of approval or even a dislike for the individual. And to be quite honest, it is very easy to enter into this and combine our own reactions with a history of harsh reactions adding to a possible justification for those feelings. When it comes to the world it should be expected that there will indeed be disagreement on any number of issues, and the news of the past few weeks has provided ample opportunity. When we see people rejoicing in something that God declares to be wrong, there should be a check in our hearts.

The question then arises about how we deal with that heart check, remembering that the greatest need is for the non-believer to come to a saving relationship with Jesus Christ. Practically speaking when individuals are confronted in a harsh or judgmental way, they rarely find anything attractive about the one serving as their judge. This does not mean that we must remain silent about everything lest someone become offended, but that when we speak and act it should be done so thoughtfully and in full consideration of our savior and Lord for whom we are ambassadors, pleading that the individual becomes reconciled to Him. We are not begging them to change before they become acceptable to God for salvation. Rather we know that once they place their trust in Christ and receive His gift of salvation that God then begins a work in them, beginning the process of conforming them to the image of His beloved Son. This changes everything.

2 Corinthians 5:16-21 Therefore from now on we recognize no one according to the flesh; even though we have known Christ according to the flesh, yet now we know Him in this way no longer. Therefore if anyone is in Christ, he is a new creature; the old things passed away; behold, new things have come. Now all these things are from God, who reconciled us to Himself through Christ and gave us the ministry of reconciliation, namely, that God was in Christ reconciling the world to Himself, not counting their trespasses against them, and He has committed to us the word of reconciliation. Therefore, we are ambassadors for Christ, as though God were making an appeal through us; we beg you on behalf of Christ, be reconciled to God. He made Him who knew no sin to be sin on our behalf, so that we might become the righteousness of God in Him.

The situation is a bit different for those who profess to be Christians. Here we have the Word of God and its standard for our lives. While we are, again not to be harsh or judgmental even in our dealings with other believers, we can rightly call them to living to a different standard than before they trusted Christ for their salvation. We do this knowing that while all of our sins are forgiven, God does not instantaneously shave away all of our struggle areas but rather patiently and graciously works in us. Scripture does call us to live differently and to encourage others to do likewise.

There is a tendency among some to quote the words of Jesus in Matthew 7:1, “Do not judge so that you will not be judged,” applying across the board universally to Christians and non-Christians. In doing this they might raise their hands and back away from any discussion of how we deal with one another. In doing so, they use the word “judge” in a blanket manner to include any form of confrontation. Both in Matthew chapter seven and in Luke chapter six this issue is dealt with beyond this singular statement, and in both of them the issue is not dealing with one another, but HOW we deal with one another and the condition of our hearts when we do so. Jesus calls us to love and be merciful to even those who are our enemies, and He also calls us to consider our own sinfulness and the mercy and grace shown to us. In recognizing who we are before God and what He has done and continues to do for us, then we prayerfully and carefully reach out to others in a biblically positive way.

Remember, Jesus also said in Matthew 18:15, “If your brother sins, go and show him his fault in private; if he listens to you, you have won your brother.”

Judging the world is not our business. Scripture declares that this has already been done and every single person has been found guilty. Romans 3:23 “for all have sinned and fall short of the glory of God….” Rather we are, as we read in 2 Corinthians 5, “ambassadors for Christ.”

And as it pertains to our brothers and sisters in Christ, sin sniffing is also not our business, but building up and encouraging one another is. 1 Thessalonians 5:11, 14 “Therefore encourage one another and build up one another, just as you also are doing. … We urge you, brethren, admonish the unruly, encourage the fainthearted, help the weak, be patient with everyone.”

Today in “Jesus Calling” by Sarah Young (7/3)

My children make a pastime of judging one another – and themselves. But I am the only capable Judge, and I have acquitted you through My own blood. Your acquittal came at the price of My unparalleled sacrifice. That is why I am highly offended when I hear My children judge one another or indulge in self-hatred.

If you live close to Me and absorb My Word, the Holy Spirit will guide and correct you as needed. There is no condemnation for those who belong to Me.

“Do not judge, and you will not be judged. Do not condemn, and you will not be condemned. Forgive, and you will be forgiven.” Luke 6:37

Now there is in store for me the crown of righteousness, which the Lord, the righteous Judge, will award to me on that day – and not only to me, but also to all who have longed for his appearing. 2 Timothy 4:8

He saved us, not because of righteous things we had done, but because of his mercy. He saved us through the washing of rebirth and renewal by the Holy Spirit. Titus 3:5

Therefore, there is now no condemnation for those who are in Christ Jesus. Romans 8:1

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