This morning a follower of Christ told me of another follower of Christ who told her matter-of-factly, “I will be praying for your salvation.” That sounded odd to me since I knew her salvation had already been purchased and that nothing could seperate her from the love of God. Apparently my sister was making some choices that my other sister did not approve of so she nonchalantly judged her “unsaved.”
Why do we do that to each other? Why do we judge? Why can’t we see the heart and character of God in the words of Jesus who gave us a hilarious word picture about judging each other? Jesus told his listeners that before they worried about picking a speck or splinter out of a friend’s eye that they first should consider the “log” or “beam” in their own eye and deal with it. (Mt. 7:3)
Can you picture that? I can. Logs are big. Beams are heavy. They are bigger than splinters, bigger than branches, bigger than limbs. When you trip over a log, you know it. If someone asks you to pile up a bunch of logs you know it’s a task that is going to require more than you can provide without help. I picture it as a guy spinning around with a 10 foot beam sticking straight out of his eyeball saying, “Woah, look at you, Loser! You’ve got a piece of sawdust in your eye. How can you not see that and do something about it!”
Why can’t we see God’s heart in this? Why can’t we see that it hurts His heart when we pass judgement on our brothers and sisters? Why can’t we trust the Holy Spirit to do His work and be there for our brothers and sisters and love them through the messy times of life? We tend to hang our shingles on Matthew 18 and want to speed right toward booting our brothers and sisters out of the family. We miss the heart of even that process which implies time and a goal of restoration. Think about it … “if your brother sins…” What does that mean?
I’ve got to measure it and evaluate it against all of Scripture. Does it mean any sin? If someone speeds, tells an ugly woman she looks beautiful, smokes or eats too much do we form a brigade and go after all the sinners to get them to comply and then throw them out if the don’t submit to our code? Maybe God’s talking about “the biggies” here? What are “the biggies?” Why would Jesus say this and also give us the beam and speck analogy? I believe it’s a concern thing. The process of Mt. 18 should be soaked with loving care and not be a cold, hard code of enforcement.
When I am tempted to start focusing on the choices of others and inflate them to disqualifing events that cost them their very salvation, I sin. I minimize the breadth and scope of my Rescuer’s rescuing. I say that it’s good but not good enough to cover this one. Not good enough. Not enough.
Life is messy. We all make bad choices. We all are fragile beings who choose sin. It’s not helpful at all for me to start whacking my sister with the beam sticking out of my own eye to get her to see the speck, beam, or log in her own. The process is noisy and the result is a bloody mess where everyone ends up hurt.
Humility does not puff up and say curtly, “I will pray for your salvation!” Humility says, “I love you, I worry about you and I’m praying that you seek and trust our Father in this. I have no stones to throw.”
In John 8 Jesus comes to the defense of a woman caught having sex with a guy who was not her husband. (That’s probably “a biggie,” huh?) Against all the religious leaders, he takes her side and tells them to consider their own sin. And then, when they all wander away speechless, he turns back to the woman who is probably stairing at the ground waiting to die and he says, “Who condemns you?” She looks around and see that all the guys with the beams sticking out of their eyes are gone. She’s amazed. She’s rescued. She’s been saved. I think she leaves changed as Jesus tells her to go and live life differently.
“I will pray for your salvation.”
“Please don’t. Jesus already took care of that.”