In-Sight: Sticking To Our Job

God has divided the work between Himself and us.  We are to proclaim, and God does the judging.  The one fits our capacities; the other fits God’s–both of which are variations of love.

We misrepresent the Gospel when we try to mix proclamation and judgment.  God knows that’s too much for us to handle, so Jesus came clearly saying, “Judge not.”  Why is this so important?

For one thing, we quickly turn judgment into judgmentalism.  Assessment deteriorates into arrogance (we are “right” and they are “wrong”), which leaves us focusing on the speck in the other person’s eye and missing the log in ours.

For another thing, mixing proclamation and judgment changes the tone from love (John 3:16) to condemnation. The fruit of the Spirit is violated, and we are never allowed to do that. Never.

Perhaps the greatest problem is that adding judgment to proclamation stops grace from having time to work.  “You are out,” spoken as the first word prevents God from having the last word.  Love gets lost in the confusion, leaving people to think God is mad at them–concluding they could never “measure up” to God if they don’t to Christians.

It is difficult to talk about making love the basis, because some hear that as “being soft on sin” or believing “nothing is forbidden”, or something like that. But that is not true, and it misses the point.

To make love our aim is to follow the way of Christ, who went where “religious” people would never go and befriended those whom “good” people walked on the other side of the road to avoid. The religious leaders scandalized Jesus for doing it, and still do today when we try to follow his example.

But in his words and actions Jesus gave us our job description: proclamation–go everywhere and preach the Gospel (good news) to everyone (Mark 16:15) using words when necessary (St Francis). Our task is to be the messengers; God deals with the responses to the Message.

We should stick to our job, and leave the rest to God.

About jstevenharper

Retired seminary professor, who taught for 32 years in the disciplines of Spiritual Formation and Wesley Studies. Author and co-author of 31 books. Also a retired Elder in The Florida Annual Conference of The United Methodist Church
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2 Responses to In-Sight: Sticking To Our Job

  1. Jodie Howell says:

    Ouch!! This is nothing less than an “alive and active” word from God (Heb. 4:12) this morning that is cutting quite deeply as I find myself in a place of judging one that is dear to me (and feeling very justified and yes, even “arrogant” in the assessment!). As a result, I have experienced well how mixing “proclamation with judgement changes the tone from love to condemnation.” Thank you, Dr. Steve, for this pointed reminder that I must stick to my job of loving and leave the changing in both of us) to God.

  2. Michael D. says:

    Love was at the heart of all that Jesus did and still does. It was because of love (John 3:16) that God sent Jesus to provide salvation for the world (for each of us). But sometimes we forget another important principle that Jesus taught. “Go and sin no more.” Grace, mercy and judgment are sometimes difficult to implement. We want grace and mercy for ourselves and our loved ones, but we want justice when it applies to others.

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