Friday, October 11, 2019

The Problem With Jumping To Conclusions About Others

Blind guides, who strain out a gnat and swallow a camel! Woe to you, scribes and Pharisees, hypocrites! For you cleanse the outside of the cup and dish, but inside they are full of extortion and self-indulgence. Blind Pharisee, first cleanse the inside of the cup and dish, that the outside of them may be clean also.” – Matthew 23:24-26

Our initial impression of others is most often determined by what we see.  We then put them into a “pigeon hole”, label them, and draw conclusions about their character and heart and we don’t even know them.  The Pharisees looked good – commanded the respect of the people – but Jesus, who saw their hearts – their true nature – told them that they needed a clean heart and then the outside would be clean as well. 

I met a man yesterday – his name is Deacon. (What a great name! – Servant of others.) Had I met him on the street, I may very well have passed him by. He was small in stature and was missing most of his teeth.  A vehicle mechanic by trade.  But when he spoke – the Spirit of God revealed Himself.  Deacon and a tender spirit and there was a warmth in his eyes that drew you close.  As we talked – my spirit resonated with his. He is a man of the Word and his conversation is seasoned with scripture. Not in a “Thus sayeth the Lord” in your face way – like someone putting too much salt in their cooking – but in a natural – flowing way that revealed his love for God. Like the Maranatha song, “A Man of the Spirit – A Man of the Word.”

Jesus make a man of me, with Your integrity Man of the Spirit, Man of the Word
A servant of the LORD, an offering outpoured. Man of the Spirit, Man of the Word
A man of mercy, fire and light. A man who loves the truth
Who runs to win the crown of life. And lives to honor You.

That describes Deacon. So often I meet people who want to first present their natural – the outside of the cup – occupation – ethnicity – socio-economic status – nationality and then they will get to the spiritual.  They don’t realize that they have revealed their hearts – the inside of the cup – in the process.

When I would preach in a Haitian church the first time -  I would always begin by saying “Mwen pa blan – mwen se fre nou.” (I am not white – I am your Brother) I would then explain the Biblical truth of our Spiritual relationship referencing scripture.

Therefore, if anyone is in Christ, he is a new creation; old things have passed away; behold, all things have become new. Now all things are of God, who has reconciled us to Himself through Jesus Christ, and has given us the ministry of reconciliation, that is, that God was in Christ reconciling the world to Himself, not imputing their trespasses to them, and has committed to us the word of reconciliation. Now then, we are ambassadors for Christ, as though God were pleading through us: we implore you on Christ’s behalf, be reconciled to God.” – 2 Corinthians 5:17-20

There is neither Jew nor Greek, there is neither slave nor free, there is neither male nor female; for you are all one in Christ Jesus.” – Galatians 3:28

Even in the face of that Biblical truth, I suspected that many of those in the congregation struggled with getting past the fact that I was not like them with respect to the outside of the cup  – my ethnicity – socio-economic status or nationality. Not so with Deacon.  We had “church” in a church building ravaged by Tropical Strom Imelda.  I was blessed in our meeting – encouraged in my faith – and connected to a Brother in Christ – I am a better man for it. I wonder how many other opportunities I have missed. And so I pray for that I might not miss any more -  and I encourage you to do the same. And so …. As Paul encouraged for the Ephesians, I encourage you with this.

“…. I heard of your faith in the Lord Jesus and your love for all the saints, [I] do not cease to give thanks for you, making mention of you in my prayers: that the God of our Lord Jesus Christ, the Father of glory, may give to you the spirit of wisdom and revelation in the knowledge of Him, the eyes of your understanding being enlightened; that you may know what is the hope of His calling, what are the riches of the glory of His inheritance in the saints, and what is the exceeding greatness of His power toward us who believe” – Ephesians 1:15-19

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