The Gavel & The Cross: Which do we carry?
In the world we live in today, we are inundated with information from the news, social media, and constant alerts on our electronic devices.
And many of us claim to be followers of Christ yet we often fail to consistently live out the claims of our faith in front of others who are watching carefully.
Those who understand what a relationship with Jesus is about understand that we all fall short and without His Grace we wouldn’t be saved.
We understand that it is not our works that saves us but it is our faith in Jesus Christ.
But does that mean we can live without accountability, without obeying the law, and that we can justify any action we commit because of Jesus?
This is a grave error that causes more of those who are seeking a relationship with Christ to turn away from the faith not because of Jesus but because of our actions. Paul reminds us not abuse our freedom that we have received in Christ as an opportunity to do wrong:
“For you were called to freedom, brethren; only do not turn your freedom into an opportunity for the flesh, but through love serve one another.
For the whole Law is fulfilled in one word, in the statement, “You shall love your neighbor as yourself.” But if you bite and devour one another, take care that you are not consumed by one another.” (Galatians 5:13-15)
And with the constant scrutiny of the media today we see that anytime a person claiming to be a Christian commits a crime, commits a heinous act, or is caught on camera behaving badly the world immediately tries and convicts them in the courts of social justice. This brings us to two important statements to consider when these tragic moments occur:
• Never judge a belief system or a philosophy by those who choose to abuse it:
If this was the case, we would quit going to the gym because there are out of shape people there. We would quit trying to have good marriages because the divorce rate is so high. We would stop striving to be the best firefighters we can be because there are complacent firefighters all around us. We would quit trying to do good works because so many are choosing to lie, cheat, and steal yet they continue to get away with it.
• Judging Others:
In these moments the most often verse that is quoted by non-believers is this: (Matthew 7: 7-1-5) “Do not judge so that you will not be judged. For in the way you judge, you will be judged; and by your standard of measure, it will be measured to you.
Why do you look at the speck that is in your brother’s eye, but do not notice the log that is in your own eye? Or how can you say to your brother, ‘Let me take the speck out of your eye,’ and behold, the log is in your own eye?
You hypocrite, first take the log out of your own eye, and then you will see clearly to take the speck out of your brother’s eye.”
Jesus words ring true and we should understand the power of personal judgement. We are not to judge non-believers for their lives because they do not have a relationship with Jesus yet. However, once someone comes to believe in Christ, it is the responsibility of the church and fellow believers to hold that person accountable, admonish them when they are wrong, and bring them back to the correct path gently and lovingly.
This means if we call ourselves followers of Christ than those in our circle have the right to judge us and hold us accountable. This can be uncomfortable yet is necessary to have a strong network of Christian accountability.
A popular song on the radio says it well “many think I am going around with a gavel in my hand” yet if we are living out our faith and carrying our cross we understand that our judgement has already occurred, our debt has already been paid, and our sins are forgiven.
Our lives should be lived out of great gratitude towards the great love God demonstrated “in this, that while we were yet sinners Christ died for us” (Romans 5:8). We should look upon the lost, those that don’t know Jesus as Lord and Savior, not with pious condemnation but with compassion as Christ did.
Mark 6: 34: “So as He stepped ashore, He saw a huge crowd and had compassion on them, because they were like sheep without a shepherd. Then He began to teach them many things.”
And when our fellow brothers and sisters in Christ begin to stray or fall victim to false teaching we should go to them directly, lovingly, and talk to them about our concern for them.
We should not beat them over the head with our gavel we should come to them with love, compassion, and share what Christ did for us ALL on the cross.
We should do as Christ did and spend time with them and pray that God will change their heart. For if we use scripture to win an argument out of spite then we have turned the word into a hatchet to chop off their head.
But if we come to them in compassion and tell them the truth we have done what is necessary. In the end we are called to live the life that God has called us to, share His love, and refute false teaching even if it costs us dearly.
Sadly, many will not listen and turn away but we should leave the door open, continue to pray, and hold fast to the word of God never compromising His truth or our integrity but never giving up on those we love either.
Let us carry our cross and let the true judge of mankind hold the gavel,
Andy J. Starnes
Bringing Back Brotherhood Ministries