Can We Be Honest With God?

In Genesis 15:1, Abraham has a vision. The text says,

“After these things the word of the Lord came to Abram in a vision: “Fear not, Abram, I am your shield; your reward shall be very great.”” (Ge 15:1)

In his vision, God appears to Abraham. Of course, Abraham’s first reaction is fear — fear of judgment. Knowing Abraham’s thoughts, God says to him,

“Fear not, Abram, I am your shield.” (Gen. 15:1a)

In other words, God is telling Him that He is for him, He is his refuge and protection. As such, Abraham shouldn’t fear God’s judgment.

That’s true for us as well.

Those who are God’s need not fear His judgment

That is an awesome promise because it means those of us who are God’s know where we stand with Him. We are not left to wonder or worry. We don’t have to hope that we have done enough good works to escape God’s judgment. Those who are His know where they stand.

Those who are God’s Can Expose Their Life to Him

Knowing where we stand with God allows us to expose our life to Him without fear that He will use that against us, or change His mind and judge us. As well as it allows us to be honest with God, to truly share our feelings with Him. We don’t have to hold back. We can reveal sin in our lives, repenting of it, and asking Him for the strength to fight it. We can share with God what we are thinking. We can ask Him questions.

Abraham’s Example

That is exactly what Abraham does. After God tells Abraham that He need not fear Him and that His reward shall be very great, Abraham is honest with God when he says,

““O Lord God, what will you give me, for I continue childless, and the heir of my house is Eliezer of Damascus?””” (Ge 15:2)

You see, 10 years ago God promised Abraham that He would give him a son and that He would make him into a great nation. God hasn’t delivered on that promise yet. Since God hasn’t delivered, Abraham questions God. Essentially he is saying in verses 2 and 3,

“You have been promising me a reward for a while. I still don’t have the heir you told me I was going to have. The only one I have is Eliezer, who is my servant. Is he supposed to be my heir? Because, if I remember correctly God, You told me You were going to give me my own son?”

Calling God’s promise into question takes some guts. But, again, knowing that we don’t have to fear His judgment if we are His allows us to be honest with God.

Proof We Can Be Honest With God

God proves that we can be honest with Him, when He doesn’t respond in judgment. Instead, in verses 4 and 5, He responds lovingly, assuring Abraham that he will have a son of his own and he will become a great nation. So this will sink in, God takes him outside, tells him to look up at the uncountable stars in the night sky, and as he does, God tells him again that He will give him an heir and that the nation that will come forth from him will be greater than the stars in the sky that night.

Question for Reflection

  1. When is the last time you have been honest with God about how you feel, the sin you are struggling with, or the questions you have?

Resources

Post adapted from my sermon What are the three foundational truths upon which the Christian life must be built? You can listen here.

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Evangelism and the Day of the Lord

Locust

There is a day coming when the Lord will return and judge all nations. All those not following Jesus will be slain by the Lord.

Joel 2 Pictures this Day

As a watchman, Joel sounds the trumpet warning of an approaching enemy. An enemy that ultimately destroys Israel. Their destruction points to the Day of the Lord.

Commenting on Joel 2:1-11, John Calvin says,

The object of the narrative, then, is to make the people sensible, that it was now no time for taking rest; for the Lord, having long tolerated their wickedness, was now resolved to pour upon them in full torrent his whole fury.

Table Talk magazine commenting on Calvin says,

Calvin reminds us the final end is not to preach judgment for judgement’s sake, but to warn people to turn from sin.

Challenge

The many disasters lately – New Orleans; New York; Moore, OK; West, TX – should bring to mind the Day of the Lord. Knowing it is approaching and may occur at any moment, should cause us to eagerly call others to repent. Friends, neighbors, family members, and even strangers need the gospel. It is our only hope as the Day draws near. May we bravely and boldly proclaim it to all who will listen.

Questions for Reflection

  1. Does impending judgment motivate you to preach the gospel to your neighbors?
  2. Are you satisfied others will face judgment, or does it motivate you to share Jesus?

Resources

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Table Talk Magazine, June 2013, The Army of the Lord, Friday, June 14

Judge Not – What does it really mean?

Court Room

It is not uncommon to hear people to say:

Aren’t we all sinners? What gives you the right to make moral judgments about someone else? Isn’t that God’s job?” “Do not judge, or you to will be judged.”

Some who make these claims know where this verse is found, and others do not, but the common theme is that it is used out of context. Incase you did not know, the verse is found in Matthew 7:1.

Why is this verse commonly used, or might I say, misused?

People desire to shield their sin. They want to keep others at bay. They desire to have “unrestrained moral freedom, autonomy, and independence [1].” They don’t want anyone to question their behavior, thoughts, or ideals.

That is a secular way of thinking. It is not a biblical way of thinking. Jesus is not giving this command so others can hide behind it. He is not giving this command as a license to sin. The Bible is clear about that.

  • The Bible gives us commands we are to live by.
  • The Bible tells us we are to hold others accountable.
  • Jesus provides us with the steps to church discipline.
  • Jesus provides us with a church so that we can stir one another up and encourage one another in the faith.
  • Jesus provides us with people in our life to point out our sin so that we will grow to be more like Him.

So then, Jesus’ command is not to be used to shield ourselves from moral scrutiny. To think and act in that way is to think and act in a secular way. It is to allow the world to influence us, and our interpretation of the Bible.

Instead of looking at the Bible through the world’s lens, we have to look at the Bible through its own lens. We have to allow it to interpret itself.

What Does This Verse Really Mean?

Even though people use this verse to dissuade others from judging their behavior, the verse actually does not mean we cannot ever judge another person. Let’s look at this verse in context, and you will see what I mean.

Judge not, that you be not judged. For with the judgment you pronounce you will be judged, and with the measure you use it will be measured to you. 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.”

After reading this verse in context, it should be apparent that Jesus is addressing judgmentalism and hypocrisy. He was after those who were critical of others and those who operated under a double standard. As well as He was after those who judged others without first dealing with their own sin.

Essentially, Jesus is giving two commandments:

  1. Stop judging others in a hypocritical fashion.
  2. Get the sin out of your own life [2].

So then, Jesus is not telling us we cannot speak about the sin in others lives. Rather, He is telling us that we are not to be hypocritical. We are not to operate under a double standard. We are not to be critical of others.

Can We Judge?

The answer is yes. In fact, it is our duty to judge others, so that they will grow in the Christian life. We are to spur one another on to growth and godliness, and we are to keep each other accountability. Hebrews 10:24-25 says,

And let us consider how to stir up one another to love and good works, not neglecting to meet together, as is the habit of some, but encouraging one another, and all the more as you see the Day drawing near.

In order to stir one another up and hold them accountable, we have to look into people’s lives and make judgments about how they are living.

However, if we are not humbly submitting our own lives to the Word of God for review, and if we are not willing to allow others to help us in that task, then we are not to judge others. If we are examining our own lives, and we are dealing with our own sins, living a life of genuine repentance, then we can judge others.

It is important that we are dealing with our own sin because those who are working on their own sin will approach others in a vastly different way than those who are not.

Those who don’t think they have any sin to work on will approach others in a judgmental way. Those who do work on their sin first will approach others with love, mercy, grace, and patience.

The reason for that is because they realize that God has had mercy on them; He has come to them in love; He has patience with them; He has shown them grace. Those who have experienced these things, will be in a better place to point out others sins than those who haven’t.

So then we can judge others, but not before we deal with the sin in our own lives.

The Proper Way to Judge

When we judge others, we must do it in a loving way. We are not judging them in order to make ourselves look better. We don’t come at them from a morally superior position. No, we approach them in love, humbly recognizing we are all sinners, we have all fallen short of God’s glory, and we all need Jesus Christ as our Lord and Savior. If we approach people from that position, then we have a right, neigh a duty, to speak into their lives, so that we may wage war on the flesh together.

Conclusion

Jesus did not say these words, in order to keep us from making moral judgments. Nor did He give us this verse so we can shield our own sin from review. Rather, He is attacking those who are hypocrites; those who operate under a double standard; those who are critical.

So then, when we look at this verse in context, we see that we can judge others, as long as we are first judging ourselves, and as long as we are approaching them in a loving manner.

Question for Reflection

  1. Do you agree or disagree? Why or why not?

Resource

[1] Eric Bargerhuff, The Most Misused Verses in the Bible, 26.
[2] Ibid., 27

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Judge Not – What does it really mean? (Sermon I preached on this topic)