I live within driving distance of Stonebriar Community Church in Frisco, Texas. Perhaps you’ve heard of their pastor, Chuck Swindoll. On occasion I make the trek to hear him in person; to absorb knowledge from a man who includes a sermon in every prayer. Last Sunday was such a time. As usual, we sang a hymn with lyrics that have become more prized with age and maturity on my part, “My Jesus, I Love Thee.” As we sang the second verse, I felt a lump in my throat as I pondered my personal history.
For those who’ve read “The Spirit behind Badge 145,” you know my story. I was “The Prodigal Son” more than two decades ago. My life was filled with narcissism and infidelity. I share the details today because I want to make a point about a verse that is quoted out of context far too often by people who otherwise have no idea what the Bible really says.
“Judge not that you be not judged.” How many times have you heard someone from pop culture refer to it; usually as ammunition against a Christian? We have been inundated with people afraid to take a stand. The phrase “I’m not judging” has become a tagline everywhere you turn, as if suggesting good choices are somehow inconsiderate?
The verse quoted above is found in Matthew 7:1. Let’s put in context. Verses 3-5 say, “Why do you see 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,’ when there is the log 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.”
Now let me apply this in the real world scenario that is my life. Twenty-five years ago I had no spiritual authority to confront a brother or sister in Christ involved in sin because I had a “log” in my own eye. Actually, I had an entire forest! But I submitted to God’s will and turned from my destructive nature. His grace took over and I was restored to a right relationship with the Lord and my wife. Fidelity is my sobriety and I’m 22 years strong. I have since had many conversations of reproof with men engaged in sexual sin—any act of sex outside of marriage between a man and a woman. By the way, that is God’s standard, not mine. And it’s non-negotiable unless you discard portions of His inerrant Word—something that is happening with greater frequency.
Scripture calls for reproof. Proverbs says with reproof comes intelligence, wisdom, and prudence. Honor will also find those who receive it. Make no mistake, this means we are to take a scriptural stand on moral issues with those who claim to be followers of Jesus. We are to offer reproof!
For those who do not believe the message of the cross, my response is entirely different. If I have a relationship with such a person, I simply offer my opinion that their amoral decision(s) will ultimately crumble. If I have no emotional bank account with a person outside of Christ, I keep my opinions and reproof to myself because I expect them to live that way. It doesn’t mean I don’t want the best for them, but until they recognize Jesus as Lord and Savior, their amorality is not immorality in their eyes.
Taking a stand for moral behavior as it relates to public policy is another discussion, but I always support plans and vote according to biblical principals.
Back to the service with Chuck Swindoll and singing the second verse to “My Jesus, I Love Thee.”
“I love Thee because Thou has first loved me,
And purchased my pardon on Calvary’s tree.
I love Thee for wearing the thorns on Thy brow;
If ever I loved Thee, my Jesus, ’tis now.”
In the words of one of my favorite legal scholars, Associate Justice Bill Bedsworth, from the 4th District Court of Appeal in California, “For right now, that’s all she wrote!”