I Corinthians Chapters 1 and 2
This week’s reading is found in 1 Corinthians 2:15, “He who is spiritual JUDGES all things.” There seems to be a lot of confusion today about whether a Christian should ever tell someone that what they are doing is wrong. Often we hear people say, “Judge not lest you be judged,” which is found in Matthew 7:1. These were the words of Jesus. So who is right, Paul or Jesus?
They are both right. You can be sure that the Word of God does not contradict itself. When Jesus said, “Do not judge others,” He was telling us that it is not our job to go around straightening everyone out. It is not our job to tell people that what they are doing is wrong, especially people who do not attend church! That job belongs to God and He does it through His Holy Spirit. What Paul was referring to is a different situation. Paul was saying that there are times when God’s people need to speak up, especially in the church! At that time in the Corinthian church, the people were so afraid to say anything that might be considered offensive or come across judgmental that they were allowing everybody to do whatever they felt like doing, people were getting drunk, misusing the gifts of the Holy Spirit and causing divisions in the church. One guy was even sleeping with his father’s wife and no one in the church would say anything about it. Paul’s entire letter is written to correct the church in Corinth. Actually in chapter 5:3 Paul says, “For I indeed, as absent in body but present in spirit, have already JUDGED (as though I were present) him who has so done this deed.”
Although it is not easy to do, there are times when Christians do need to speak up and help people to see what is right and wrong, especially in the church and even in our communities. Pastors need to be able to speak freely from the pulpit about what is right and wrong. Friends and family need to be able to speak freely about what is right and what is wrong. This is not being mean spirited. This is not judging people and telling them that they are going to hell. We don’t have to continually bring up a specific issue, but when the issue comes up, there needs to be someone who has the backbone to speak up and help people process through confusing issues. This is being a mature believer, representing Christ. The best way to discern when to speak up and when to keep quiet is to have a real relationship with God through His Holy Spirit and to be listening to Him on a daily basis. Sometimes He is going to tell you to speak up and sometimes He is going to tell you to keep quiet. They are both right! How about you, do you think it is ever right for Christians to judge?
Romans Chapters 15-16
This week’s reading is in chapter 16. Paul mentions 35 people by name, many of them he seems to know something very specific about their lives. Too often, people will say, “I am terrible with names.” But is that really true, that a few people have a special gift to remember names and the rest of don’t? Is it true that the rest of us really don’t value a person’s name and therefore do not take the time to remember it?
Everybody knows that people make the effort to remember things that are important to them from a birthday or special anniversary to a personal identification number or favorite wine label. Therefore, when you fail to remember someone’s name, especially the second or third time they tell it to you, it sends a clear message that you do not deem them important. Their name is seemingly insignificant and irrelevant to you. Of course, you may not consciously feel this way, but the person’s perception of you is their reality.
How do you feel when someone important remembers your name? How would you feel if the governor or the president saw you in a crowd and stopped to say hello to you by your name? It would make you feel important. It would make you feel significant. Taking the time to remember a person’s name means that you think they are important. It means you value them. When you don’t take the time to remember a person’s name it means that you don’t value them! Paul could have easily left this chapter out of the Bible. He could just have said, “Say hello to everyone there. I am bad with names!” But instead, he took the time to say hello to as many of the people in Rome that he knew and to mention them by name. There are thirty five names mentioned in this chapter!
Aren’t you glad that God remembers each one of us by our names? Jesus said in the Gospel of John, “He calls His sheep by THEIR NAME.” If God sees the importance of calling each of us by our name, we should follow His example. Don’t give in to the lie that you are not good with names. You are as good as you want to be. As Dale Carnegie once said, “A person’s name is to him or her the sweetest and most important sound in any language.”
This week’s reading is in Romans chapter 13. This is all about honoring people in authority over us. This applies to employers, parents and especially our governmental leaders. There seems to be a lot of confusion today about showing honor and respect and yet disagreeing with someone in authority. I get a bit concerned with some of our conservative talk radio programs lately. They seem to be getting very disrespectful of our government officials. There is a way to disagree with someone in authority and yet still honor and respect them. We must not buy into the two great lies that are accepted in today’s culture. The first lie is that if I disagree with you that means I hate you. The second lie is that if I love you that means that I agree with your choices. Both of these are NOT true and we need to learn how to disagree with people without being disrespectful as well as loving people and not agreeing with them, especially with people who are in authority over us. A person that God has put in authority over us does NOT have to earn our honor and respect. We honor and respect them for their position, believing that God has placed them over us.
Here are a few things to consider when you disagree with someone in authority over you. The first thing to look at is your heart attitude. If you do not respect them then get that right first, because your attitude will affect everything else that you say and do. Have you prayed for this person and asked God what you should do first? If you are going to talk to a work supervisor that you disagree with, it might be a good idea to take a look at your work record before you do. Are you one of their best workers, do you do good work, are you a team player, do you show up early? You don’t have much to stand on if you have not done your part first. Also, it would be good to process how you will react if what you have to say is not received. Are you still going to respect this person in authority or are you going to become rebellious and start talking bad about this person with your peers? It is fine to express our concerns and disagreements but we must be willing to accept the fact that we may not be heard. How are we going to handle that? I say go ahead and do what you are supposed to do and serve the person in authority. Do your work unto God and if you are right, let God prove you right or let God replace that person in authority in His time.
Obviously, we should never do things that are wrong even if we are told to do so by people in authority over us. There are times when God will raise up people to put an end to wickedness and evil, but most of the disagreements we deal with on a day to day basis are not this severe. Speak your mind, stand for what is right, but always remember to honor and respect those that God has placed in authority over you. Your life will be blessed if you do.
This week’s reading is found in Romans 10:15, “How beautiful are the feet of those who preach the gospel of peace.” Let’s be honest some people have feet that are not really that beautiful, but apparently, when we go about spreading the gospel of peace our feet are beautiful to God! Whenever pastors talk about sharing the gospel with the lost, people tend to feel a little guilty. Most of us feel like we are not doing very well at witnessing. Over the years I have read many books on evangelism. Most of these talk about memorizing certain scriptures so that you can share them with people when you are telling them about God and His ways. Also, I have read some books that give you specific answers you can have prepared so you are ready when you are asked standard questions about God. These are all good to do, but the most effective way I have found to preach the gospel of peace is to have a very close relationship with God and as you go through life be willing to share with others what God is doing in your life. It is pretty simple really. Sometimes people do not understand the importance of the relationship between a testimony and witnessing. When we share a testimony, we are telling someone something specific that God has done in our lives. Witnessing sometimes is telling a person some facts about Christianity or about how to become a Christian. Witnessing is most effective when we combine it with a personal testimony about what great things God has done for us.
Whenever I have done this I have found it to be well received. People don’t feel threatened when you are sharing something about your own life, even if it is talking about God. Also, if there is any interest in what is going on in your life this is their opportunity to ask. If they don’t ask, then I move on. This takes a lot of pressure off of me, thinking that I have to witness to everyone and have to know all the answers before I can share my faith. All I need to do is to stay close to God and continue to allow Him to change my life. Sharing that will others will make my feet beautiful. How are your feet looking?