Saturday, November 17, 2012

Six-Shooters and the Sinner's Wildcard

When my family plays UNO, we have our own “house rules” regarding the dreaded Draw 4 card.  It doesn’t matter what the official rules of use are; we just make up our own rules.  And actually, our rule applies to either the Draw 2 or the Draw 4.  If you get nailed with a draw card, you can pull out the handy Wild Card and nullify the attack.  In essence, it is your protection against nearly any negative effect of someone else’s play.

It seems to me that in today’s society, some folks have developed their own personal WILD CARD drawn from the deck of scripture.  It doesn’t matter to them if they are playing it correctly or not.  They make up their own rules.  They just whip it out and fling it down as if it is the one thing that will save them from all criticism. 

Matthew 7:1-2

“Do not judge, or you too will be judged.  For in the same way you judge others, you will be judged, and with the measure you use, it will be measured to you.”  Jesus.  The Sermon on the Mount.

It doesn’t matter to them that they are personally disregarding any number of other scriptures.  In many cases, they don’t really care what else the Bible may have to say.  Someone hints that they might be in the wrong, and out comes the wild card: 


I used to think that the most memorized verse in scripture was John 3:16, but I’ve changed my mind.  Even folks who have no regard for the Bible know this verse.

The problem is that they often don’t really know what the context is.  Most of them probably don’t even know that it was Jesus who said it.  Do they know who he said it to?  Do they know why he said it?  Have they studied the background?  Call me judgmental, but I doubt it.

How about we cross reference it with this verse…

Matthew 18:15-17

“If your brother or sister sins, go and point out their fault, just between the two of you.  If they listen to you, you have won them over.  But if they will not listen, take one or two others along, so that ‘every matter may be established by the testimony of two or three witnesses.’  If they still refuse to listen, tell it to the church; and if they refuse to listen even to the church, treat them as you would a pagan or a tax collector.”

Now, who do you think might have said this one?  Would it surprise you to learn that it was the same Jesus that spoke the earlier words?  Which one takes precedence?  Are they in conflict?  Was Jesus here telling us to be judgmental?

The fact is that we make evaluations of situations and actions all the time.  We have to.  Have you ever looked for a babysitter or a rental house tenant or a taxi?  You consider any number of factors when you decide whether to hire the sitter, rent out the house, or jump into the car.  God gave us the capacity to think and evaluate.  How about when someone is being abusive to you?  Are you allowed to decide that it is wrong to be treated that way?  Of course!  If your spouse were to have an affair, you would be perfectly within your rights to announce to the world that he or she is wrong in doing so.

You would be evaluating the situation based on the facts, laws, and vows.  You would not be passing judgment…that would happen in the courtroom a few months later.

So, if I say to you that based on the Bible, you are sinning, am I judging you?  Does the mere fact that I say you are wrong mean that I am passing judgment on you?


Hopefully, it means that I care about you.  I want the best for you.  I want you to live a good life and maximize your walk with God.  I love you enough to speak up!

If you are driving down the highway at 90 mph and I point out that you are speeding, am I judging you because I am pointing out your traffic infraction?  How about that trooper that writes you the summons to appear in court?  Is he judging you?  No, on both accounts.  It is only when you appear before the traffic court judge that you are actually judged.

Getting back to pointing out sin…

Jesus also said this: 

“If anyone hears my words but does not keep them, I do not judge that person.  For I did not come to judge the world, but to save the world.  There is a judge for the one who rejects me and does not accept my words; the very words I have spoken will condemn them at the last day.”  John 12: 47-48

Even Jesus wasn’t judging folks while he was here on the earth.  He pointed out sin.  He called people hypocrites.  He said some lacked faith.  He even accused some of being a brood of snakes.  But, he didn’t judge them.  That would come later.

And, in all of that, he was doing it to SAVE the world!  Not to judge it, but to save it!

He did however, point out that there is a judge.  And a day.  And a standard by which we will be measured.

“For we must all appear before the judgment seat of Christ, so that each of us may receive what is due us for the things done while in the body, whether good or bad.”  2 Corinthians 5:10  Apostle Paul

So, considering Matthew 7,…there is a judgment seat…and it isn’t mine.  I’m not the one to sit in it.  It isn’t my job to pass judgment on someone else’s life.  I don’t condemn.  I don’t give out sentences.  I’m not going to send anyone to Hell.  Not my seat.  Not my job.  I should not presume to sit there!

But, that doesn’t mean that I can’t evaluate the scriptures and point out sin.  It just means that I should be careful to pull the plank out of my own eye before I start fumbling with your speck of dust.  And, I better keep a good perspective on the purpose.  I need to do it out of love…out of concern…out of a sincere desire for your best.

The problem is that some Christians want to use the Bible like a weapon.  They see that sinful act and whip out that six-shooter verse faster than the Outlaw Josey Wales can say “reckon so.”  Boom, boom, boom.  Nailed that sinful sucker!

Ooops!  You must have missed because here comes the returned fire of Bible bullets:  “Don’t judge me!”  Boom, boom, boom!

Folks, the problem is that the Bible is NOT A WEAPON!  It is the love story of God.  It is God telling the story of how he made us, lost us, and won us back!  A romance novel across the eons of history!  All true…and written in crimson ink.

So, let’s put away the verse-ridden bullets.  And the next time you are tempted to whip out the biblical six-gun, stop…, think…, and read the love story first.

“This is how we know what love is: Jesus Christ laid down his life for us.  And we ought to lay down our lives for our brothers and sisters.”  1 John 3: 16  The Apostle John

“For God so loved the world that he gave his one and only Son, that whoever believes in him shall not perish but have eternal life.”  John 3: 16  Jesus
Peace to you...all of you.  And have a great Thanksgiving holiday!

1 comment:

  1. So true! I have found that desire to pull out that six-shooter to be my warning signal to KEEP QUIET! At least until I can speak out of love & compassion rather than defensive attack. Your words will help leash that tongue, because I know how those "judgmental" attacks can really damage one's soul. Keep on writing, bro. <3 MaryB