Brad Trekell Guest Columnist
Ada — It can be easy to latch on to one teaching or another from the scriptures and seek to make it mean something other than what it was intended to mean to match our preconceived notions.
When we read God’s Word, we should always try to read it with an open mind and an open heart so that it speaks to us, rather than using it as a tool to try to confirm the beliefs that we already have.
We should not sit down to read our Bibles as though we already know the truth, but rather search the scriptures and let the truth itself speak to us.
In Matthew 4:5-7, Satan tempted Christ by twisting scriptures in an attempt to deceive Him.
The scriptures did say what Satan said, but not in the same context that Satan quoted them. Likewise, scripture can still be used in such a way that the principle is lost and the naïve can be blinded to the truth and deceived.
Peter wrote about Paul’s epistles, saying, “…in which are some things hard to understand, which the untaught and unstable distort, as they do also the rest of the Scriptures, to their own destruction. You therefore, beloved, knowing this beforehand, be on your guard so that you are not carried away by the error of unprincipled men and fall from your own steadfastness, but grow in the grace and knowledge of our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ…” (2 Peter 3:16-18)
A scripture that I feel is often misused today is found in Christ’s teaching on the mount. He says, “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.” (Matthew 7:1-5)
This passage is often used by those who don’t want someone to tell them that they are living in sin and need to repent, although it was not directed to the victim of judgment.
The judged should consider the words spoken to them and examine their lives. Perhaps they were rebuked in a condescending way, or perhaps they were reproved in compassion and concern for their soul.
Whatever the case, it never hurts for one to examine themselves and the fruit that others see in their life.
Solomon says, “Do not reprove a scoffer, or he will hate you. Reprove a wise man and he will love you. Give instruction to a wise man and he will be still wiser. Teach a righteous man and he will increase his learning.” (Proverbs 9:8-9)
Again he says, “The way of a fool is right in his own eyes, but a wise man is he who listens to counsel.” (Proverbs 12:15)
A fool says, “You can’t judge me!” when reproved. A wise man considers the words, humbly examines his life and makes any necessary changes to live more a godly life.
The judge should also examine his life when he is tempted to point out another’s faults. There may be a log that is sticking out of my own eye when I want to tell my brother about the speck in his.
If this is the case, I make myself a hypocrite and my words lose their power. If we are compassionless and unmerciful in our judgment of others, we can expect the Lord to reciprocate the same kind of judgment to us.
If we choose to condemn others and mistake God’s authority for our own right, we are writing our own eternal death sentence because He has every right to condemn us because of our sin.
Paul says, “Therefore you have no excuse, everyone of you who passes judgment, for in that which you judge another, you condemn yourself; for you who judge practice the same things. And we know that the judgment of God rightly falls upon those who practice such things. But do you suppose this, O man, when you pass judgment on those who practice such things and do the same yourself, that you will escape the judgment of God? Or do you think lightly of the riches of His kindness and tolerance and patience, not knowing that the kindness of God leads you to repentance?”
We also must not think that we can choose to live sinful lives and be pleasing to God because we did not judge others living sinful lives.
If that is the case, then we really haven’t given our hearts to God, which is what He desires of us. Paul explains in Romans 6 that although God has offered us grace through the forgiveness of our sins, we should not continue in sin, but rather die to sin and the flesh and live in the Spirit.
Just as Christ was raised from the dead, we are raised from the death of our sinful lives to a new life in Christ, following His example of holiness, righteousness, and love.
Do you often see fault in others without examining your own faults? If God will be as merciful and forgiving of your offences as you are to others, do you have any hope of salvation? How do you respond to reproof?
Brad Trekell is a 2013 graduate of NWOSU, where he wrote a column for the Northwestern News. Comments or questions may be sent to Brad via e-mail at email@example.com.