Sinners in the Hands of an Angry Church
I care very little if I am judged by you or by any human court; indeed, I do not even judge myself. My conscience is clear, but that does not make me innocent. It is the Lord who judges me. Therefore judge nothing before the appointed time; wait till the Lord comes. He will bring to light what is hidden in darkness and will expose the motives of men's hearts. At that time each will receive his praise from God. 1 Corinthians 4:3-5
Several years ago, Dean Merrill wrote a book called Sinners in the Hands of an Angry Church. He spoke about the evangelical culture and its presumed mission to condemn the wrongs of an ungodly world rather than to share the Good News. His point was that the battle was not in the political arena or over the airwaves, but rather the battle was in the hearts and minds of men and women in a lost world.
Ungodly people act in ungodly ways because they don’t have God in their lives. If a sinner sins, then he has done his job. We would be right there with them if we didn’t have God in our lives.
Paul points out that believers are ill-equipped to judge others. In fact, believers aren’t adequately suited even to judge themselves. We don’t have all of the information. We don’t understand others’ motives. Often, we don’t understand our own motives. Paul certainly didn’t have a grasp on his (Romans 7:14-16).
We may never understand why people do what they do. Sometimes they don’t even understand themselves. But, what we don’t understand shouldn’t keep us from being understanding toward them. We don’t have to agree with them. We don’t have to change them. God calls us to love them. The judgment is left up to God.
God is the only one who understands why we do what we do. God knows our hearts. We don’t (Psalm 139:23). God knows our motives. We’re not even clear on that sometimes. God loves us, and He would much rather reconcile with us than judge us.
Who are you tempted to judge? It’s not our place to pronounce final judgment on anyone. “But, they will never change.” We don’t know that, but what we do know is that nothing is impossible with God (Luke 1:37; ESV).
Let this be our prayer: “Search me, O God, and know my heart; test me and know my anxious thoughts. Point out anything in me that offends you, and lead me along the path of everlasting life” (Psalm 139:23-24, NLT).
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