My church has been doing a very indepth study on 1st Corinthians.
I LOVE it.
Tonight was the first part of Chapter 4:
1So then, men ought to regard us as servants of Christ and as those entrusted with the secret things of God. 2Now it is required that those who have been given a trust must prove faithful. 3I care very little if I am judged by you or by any human court; indeed, I do not even judge myself. 4My conscience is clear, but that does not make me innocent. It is the Lord who judges me. 5Therefore judge nothing before the appointed time; wait till the Lord comes. He will bring to light what is hidden in darkness and will expose the motives of men's hearts. At that time each will receive his praise from God.
With a refrence to chapter 5
12What business is it of mine to judge those outside the church? Are you not to judge those inside?
and a throwback to Matthew 7:1
Do not judge or you too will be judged.
There was a lot of truth in what was said.
The first point was that the Matthew verse doesn't mean we can't make any judgements at all, but that our judgments, like all other things, come with consequences and paramaters.
Any judgement we make leaves us vulnerable to the same standard. That means we have to be very careful the standard we use. We can still recognize right and wrong, but at the same time need to have grace and understanding for different circumstances.
Which brings us to the 1 Cor 5 passage. This has to be one of my favorite passages, and one that is so often overlooked. I bet some people don't even know this is actually in there.
Paul doesn't think it's his business to judge people outside the church. He was a smart man, I agree with him.
See, there are laws of humanity, laws of the land, and laws of God. We're all subject to the laws of humanity - under no circumstances are things like the abuse of a child allowed. We're also subject to the laws of the land, however these may change depending on where you are. For instance, if someone in Canada is caught with marijuana they should pay whatever fine etc. is deemed necissary. If they're in, say, Denmark where the law is different, then it would be absurd to expect them to suffer the same consequences.
In the same veign, it makes no sense to me to expect those who haven't submitted themselves to God to ack like they have. There is no reason for most people not to have sex outside of marriage because they see nothing wrong with it. There is no reason for non-christian homosexuals not to get married because they see nothing wrong with it.
However, there is something wrong with "prayer gossip" within the church. There is something wrong with bitter, cuting remarks that are said "in fun" instead of openly dealing with issues. There is something very, very wrong with the hurtful, hateful things that people say to others "in the name of God". Yes, there is a truth that needs to be shared, that truth is God's love, not condemnation.
We've gotten mixed up on the gospel - it is Christ crucivied, dead, buried, and alive again, giving life and freedom to all. It is not ripping apart everything that a person believes and leaving them with nothing. That's spiritul rape.
The other part of the message was talking about who we truly are responsible to when we make our judgements. It's not those around us - inside or outside the church (because our judgements are to "spur one another on toward love and good deeds", not to hold one another down in guilt or anything else), it's God. In the end, we are accountable only to Him.
This is important, because no matter how sure we are of our decisions, of where God is leading us or the truth in our lives, someone will see a problem with it. Nothing good has ever been accomplished without some resistance. When we meet that resistance we need to remind ourselves of who we are truly accountable to. So long as He is behind us everyone else can step aside.