Observations from today’s readings and today’s S-WOD, Thursday, 28 October 21:
John 2:23-25 — Now when he was in Jerusalem at the Passover Feast, many believed in his name when they saw the signs that he was doing. But Jesus on his part did not entrust himself to them, because he knew all people and needed no one to bear witness about man, for he himself knew what was in man.
The Bible says only God really knows the hearts and motives of people. (1 Corinthians 2:11; Proverbs 14:10; Jeremiah 17:10) We can only judge another person’s actions, and even then we don’t judge perfectly – “Even a child makes himself known by his acts, by whether his conduct is pure and upright.” (Proverbs 20:1) “Thus you will recognize them by their fruits.” (Matthew 7:20) “Do not judge by appearances, but judge with right judgment.” (John 7:24) People can disguise their motives from others, often even deceiving themselves in denial, but never from God, and God judges the heart. “Would not God discover this? For he knows the secrets of the heart.” (Psalm 44:21)
When Jesus warns us not to “judge” others, I don’t believe He is countering other places in the Bible which encourage us to warn and rebuke others concerning their behavior. (Matthew 18:15-17; Proverbs 1:23; Proverbs 27:5; Galatians 6:1; 1 Timothy 5:20; 2 Timothy 3:16-17; 2 Timothy 4:2; Titus 2:15; James 5:20; Luke 17:3-4; Hebrews 4:12; etc.) I believe He is warning us against attempting to play the role of the Judge rather than merely a peer witness, warning us not to condemn others or rebuke others from a prideful, self-righteous, self-centered, harsh, ungracious, unloving position. We can only compare the actions of others to the standard of God’s word, never assuming we understand only what God understands about them, and our confrontations with others must be out of love for sake of reconciling them to God; and as witnesses, we must also be ‘character witnesses’ before the Judge in intercessory prayer.
Today’s readings tell us that while Jesus was in Jerusalem, many “believed” in His name when they saw the miracles He was doing, but Jesus “did not entrust Himself to them, because He knew all people and needed no one to bear witness about man, for He himself knew what was in man.” The word “entrust” is the same Greek word used for “believed.” So, in other words, the people ‘believed’ in Jesus, but Jesus didn’t believe in them because He knew their true hearts. Jesus knew these people only cared about His miracles, what He might do for them, and He knew they didn’t really have a heart for Him; they weren’t ready to follow Him, love Him, and obey Him. Saving faith results in a life fully committed to Jesus, though still imperfectly.
“You believe that God is one; you do well. Even the demons believe—and shudder!” (James 2:19) Many who say they believe in Jesus don’t even have demon-level belief – they don’t even shudder in their sinfulness before the Holy Sovereign! Jesus knows their hearts. Many also do good deeds in the name of Jesus, but in truth, their good deeds are really attempts to get something for themselves (self-centeredness) either from God or from others, such as blessings, honor, recognition, or other payoffs. This is not love (which prioritizes others over self (selflessness) and is focused on giving), but rather lust (which prioritizes self over others (selfishness) and is focused on getting). Many proclaim ‘love’ for another when they are really motivated by lust, which transcends the sexual into every aspect of human relationships; for example, power lust seeks to control others for personal benefit. We can’t always know another person’s motives behind their behavior, in fact, we often deceive ourselves about the “why” behind our behavior, but God always knows whether ‘good deeds’ are loving (selfless) or lustful (selfish), God-centered or self-centered. “Not everyone who says to me, ‘Lord, Lord,’ will enter the kingdom of heaven, but the one who does the will of my Father who is in heaven. On that day many will say to me, ‘Lord, Lord, did we not prophesy in your name, and cast out demons in your name, and do many mighty works in your name?’ And then will I declare to them, ‘I never knew you; depart from me, you workers of lawlessness.’” (Matthew 7:21-23)
How you feel about sin says much about how you feel about Jesus. How you treat other sinners reveals much about how you really feel about the grace you have received through Christ. Repent, sin no more, and rejoice in God’s love and grace. If you are truly convicted about the sin in the lives of others for their sake and are eager to bring them closer to Jesus by gently speaking the truth to them, you are demonstrating love. True love speaks the truth in love.
- John 17:17 — Sanctify them in the truth; your word is truth.
- Ephesians 4:25 — Therefore, having put away falsehood, let each one of you speak the truth with his neighbor, for we are members one of another.
- Zechariah 8:16 — These are the things that you shall do: Speak the truth to one another; render in your gates judgments that are true and make for peace;
- Romans 6:1-2, 11-15 — What shall we say then? Are we to continue in sin that grace may abound? By no means! How can we who died to sin still live in it? So you also must consider yourselves dead to sin and alive to God in Christ Jesus. Let not sin therefore reign in your mortal body, to make you obey its passions. Do not present your members to sin as instruments for unrighteousness, but present yourselves to God as those who have been brought from death to life, and your members to God as instruments for righteousness. For sin will have no dominion over you, since you are not under law but under grace. What then? Are we to sin because we are not under law but under grace? By no means!
- Hebrews 10:26-29 — For if we go on sinning deliberately after receiving the knowledge of the truth, there no longer remains a sacrifice for sins, but a fearful expectation of judgment, and a fury of fire that will consume the adversaries. Anyone who has set aside the law of Moses dies without mercy on the evidence of two or three witnesses. How much worse punishment, do you think, will be deserved by the one who has trampled underfoot the Son of God, and has profaned the blood of the covenant by which he was sanctified, and has outraged the Spirit of grace?
- 1 John 1:8-9 — If we say we have no sin, we deceive ourselves, and the truth is not in us. If we confess our sins, he is faithful and just to forgive us our sins and to cleanse us from all unrighteousness.
- Galatians 6:1 — Brothers, if anyone is caught in any transgression, you who are spiritual should restore him in a spirit of gentleness. Keep watch on yourself, lest you too be tempted.
“Cross” Fit S-WOD (Spiritual Workout of the Day) – 28 October 21: Walk in the joy of grace and in obedience today.