Christmas is for Sinners

Christmas Is For Sinners

Christmas Is For Sinners

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CHAPTER 2

SUBJECT: Christmas Is For Sinners!

TEXT: "Here is a trustworthy saying that deserves full acceptance. Christ Jesus came into the world to save sinners." (1 Timothy 1:15)

INTRODUCTION: Said Jesus on one occasion, just prior to his death: "For this reason I was born, and for this I came into the world, to testify to the truth. Everyone on the side of truth listens to me." (John 18:37) What is the truth of which Jesus testified when He came into the world?

I. Jesus testified to the truth of man's sinful and helpless condition.

II. Jesus testified to the truth of His personal identification with the lost.

III. Jesus testified to the truth of man's need for deepest repentance and … genuine conversion.

CONCLUSION: Christmas is for sinners — for respectable sinners with so-called respectable sins and also for repulsive sinners. Everyone stands on the same level at the foot of the cross. Christmas is a good time to receive forgiveness and go on your way rejoicing!

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CHAPTER 2

SUBJECT: Christmas Is for Sinners!

TEXT: "Here is a trustworthy saying that deserves full acceptance: Christ Jesus came into the world to save sinners." (1 Timothy 1:15)

INTRODUCTION: Said Jesus on one occasion, just prior to his death: "For this reason I was born, and for this I came into the world, to testify to the truth. Everyone on the side of truth listens to me." (John 18:37) What is the truth of which Jesus testified when He carne into the world?

I. Jesus testified to the truth of man's sinful and helpless condition.

Make no mistake about it! Jesus was sinless, but every other person is sinful and in need of forgiveness. Jesus said to His accusers, "Which of you can condemn me of sin?" In Jesus there was no sin at all. Even though He was tempted in all points as we are, yet He never once yielded to the allurements of sin. Jesus' every thought, action, and motive was pure!

To the self-righteous critics who were eager to stone the woman who was caught in adultery, Jesus said, "You who are without sin, you cast the first stone!" (John 8:7) Everyone of these men left, for all knew they were sinful! Said Jesus to the self-righteous persons of His day: "Woe to you, teachers of the law and Pharisees, you hypocrites! You are like whitewashed tombs, which look beautiful on the outside but on the inside are full of dead men's bones and everything unclean. In the same way, on the outside you appear to people as righteous but on the inside you are full of hypocrisy and wickedness." (Matthew 23:27-28)

A spirit of self-sufficiency and pride is one of the terrible characteristics of sin which Jesus often recognized in His dealings with mankind. To the self-righteous Pharisees who prided themselves in their religious achievements, Jesus said, "I have come into the world to give sight to those who are spiritually blind and to show those who think they see that they are blind" The Pharisees who were standing there asked, "Are you saying we are blind?' "If you were blind, you wouldn't be guilty," Jesus replied "But your guilt remains because you claim to know what you are doing." (John 9:39-41, Living Bible)

Notes Barclay, "The man who is conscious of his own blindness, and who longs to see better and to know more, is the man whose eyes can be opened and who can be led more and more deeply into the truth. The man who thinks he knows it all, the man who does not realize that he cannot see, is the man who is truly blind and beyond hope and help. Only the man who realizes his own weakness can become

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strong. Only the man who realizes his own blindness can learn to see. Only the man who realizes his own sin can be forgiven." (Barclay's John Vol. 2: pg.50)

II. Jesus testified to the truth of His personal identification with the lost.

Jesus said that He came into the world to seek and to save the lost, to give his life as a ransom for sinners. Jesus was called a "Friend of publicans and sinners." Jesus pictured Himself as the Shepherd in search of the lost sheep.

Said Jesus, "It is not the healthy who need a doctor, but the sick. I have not come to call the righteous, but sinners." (Mark 2:17) Even before Jesus was born, the angel spoke to Joseph about Jesus' birth and his mission: "You are to give him the name Jesus, because he will save his people from their sins." (Matthew 1:21)

If Jesus was born to die, if Jesus came into the world to redeem His people, if Jesus came to seek and to save the lost, this means that Christmas is for sinners – for those who are helpless, hurt, lost, and wicked!

Jesus' genealogy in Matthew 1 demonstrates Jesus' identification with sinners. Jesus has some 'black sheep' in his family tree. He didn't try to hide this fact. Thamar was an adulteress! Bathsheba was the woman whom David seduced and took deceitfully from Uriah and with whom he committed adultery! Rahab was the harlot of Jericho! All of these women were sinners and yet they were part of Jesus' ancestry! The inclusion of these sinners in Jesus' genealogy shows Jesus' mission of redemption! (Note Matthew 1)

The gift of myrrh which one of the Wise Men from the East presented to the Christ child is a strange gift to give to an infant. Myrrh is used to embalm dead bodies. Giving this gift to Jesus symbolizes the fact that Jesus was born to die – to die as Saviour for sinners! "For God sent not his Son into the world to condemn the world, but that the world through him might be saved." (John 3:17)

If Christmas is for sinners, then Christmas is not for me if I claim no need for forgiveness for my sins!

Jesus' identification with sinners was at the deepest level – even to the point of dying on a cross for sin. Jesus became mankind's 'sin bearer' when he died on the cross. So much did He identify with mankind's problems (sins) that God turned His face away from Jesus while Jesus died on the cross. Jesus became the 'personification of sin' and, because God is so holy that He cannot even look at sin, Jesus felt terrible rejection even by God. Jesus cried out from the Cross, "My God, my God, why have you forsaken me!"

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III. Jesus testified to the truth of man's need for deepest repentance and genuine conversion.

Said Jesus to a very religious Jewish leader (Nicodemus), "With all the earnestness I possess I tell you this: Unless you are born again, you can never get into the Kingdom of God." (John 3:3, Living Bible)

"To some who were confident of their own righteousness and looked down on everybody else, Jesus told this parable: Two men went up to the temple to pray about himself: 'God, I thank you that I am not like other men – robbers, evildoers, adulterers – or even like this tax collector. I fast twice a week and give a tenth of all I get.' "But the tax collector stood at a distance. He would not even look up to heaven, but beat his breast and said, 'God have mercy on me, a sinner.' "I tell you that this man, rather than the other, went home justified before God. For everyone who exalts himself will be humbled, and he who humbles himself will be exalted." (Luke 18:9-14)

The purpose for which Christ came (Luke 5:32), and the central message of the Gospel (Acts 3:19) is that men must repent and turn to God if they are to live. God's absolute requirement for salvation is Repentance: "God commandeth all men everywhere to repent." (Acts 17:30 b)

To repent is to change one's mind regarding sin, from one of clinging to sin to one of abhorring sin. A change of mind regarding sin results in a change of direction, from one of following evil ways to one of pursuing godly ways. Repentance is a moral U-turn, turning ones back on sin, and turning one's face toward the Saviour. Turning to Christ is the essence of Biblical Faith and is the positive result of genuine repentance. Repentance and faith must work together if true conversion is to result. Repentance is the proper attitude toward your sin, and faith is the proper attitude toward your Redeemer. Faith is putting yourself in the care of Christ who is able to change your life. Faith is a transfer of trust for salvation from yourself to Christ, who alone can save you!

But you may say, "I am a Christian and you are saying that Christmas is for sinners. Does that mean that Christmas is not for me, a Christian?"

I would answer first that it is great that you are a Christian. A Christian is one who is saved from his sins. Jesus came to save his people from their sins. (Matthew 1) If one habitually and willfully sins, it is true that he is not a Christian. (1 John 3).

But even if you are a Christian, you can identify with your need for daily forgiveness of willful isolated sins, and sins of ignorance, and sins of omission. Repentance is not a once-and-for-all experience, but repentance is a life-time attitude towards all sin (willful or ignorant). Because Christmas is for sinners, and

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because all of us need forgiveness every day, we can all identify with the purpose of Christmas – Christians and non-Christians alike.

At Christmas time, we must not have a holier-than-thou attitude towards the unchurched and the unsaved, towards those outsiders who will make their way into our Church at Christmas time and Easter time. Let us be grateful that those sinners who visit our Churches twice a year at least instinctively recognize the fact that Christmas is for sinners – sinners like themselves.

It is only as sinners – unbelievers – see this spirit of humility in Christians that they will turn to our Christ and to our Church.

The following illustrates what we are trying to say. Writes Nancy Covert Smith in her book Journey Out of Nowhere, "One afternoon I picked up a woman at the mental health day care center. I was on FISH call (FISH is an organization of Christians who work together to provide emergency help) and she needed transportation home. She was a tall woman, red-haired, loud-spoken. After she had crawled into the car and we had started, she said:

'You'd better be scared. I'm a mental patient.'" "'I know.' 'Well, aren't you scared I'll hurt you?' She looked at me through a haze of cigarette smoke. 'But I was in the hospital.' "I smiled, 'So was I. 'We were like two children trying to out do each other. "'I had shock treatments,' she said. '"So did I.' '"I had seven.' '"I had fourteen,' I replied. "She looked at me a few minutes, and then she grinned. 'You win. You were sicker. Now let's talk.'" (Journey Out of Nowhere, Nancy Covert Smith, Word; 1973)

Says Robert Andrews who relates this incident, "After I read this I couldn't help but wonder what might happen this Christmas if the following similar scene were to take place. He was a tall man, red-haired, loud-spoken. I saw him on the street and began talking to him about visiting my Church.

"You'd better stay away from me. I'm just a bum." "I know." "Well, aren't you afraid I'll contaminate you or ruin your reputation?" He looked at me through a haze of cigarette smoke. "I'm a real bad sinner." "So am I." We were like two children trying to outdo each other. "I've done thousands of immoral things." "I've committed thousands of sins of pride, self-righteousness and neglect. I've been a hypocrite."

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"He looked at me a few minutes. "You win. You're as bad as I am. Let's talk."

Please don't misunderstand what I am trying to say. It is true that Christmas is for sinners, but we are not encouraging Christians to declare, therefore, that Christians are only saved in their sins rather than from their sins. Where sin abounds, grace super abounds. The atonement of Christ is able to cleanse from all sin – original sin and volitional sins (sins caused by wrong choice). We are not suggesting that because Christmas is for sinners, that Christians have a 'sin-fixation' rather than a 'grace-fixation'.

We are not to become preoccupied with sin and self, but we are to become preoccupied with the Saviour, with His power to cleanse from all sin. It is true that we must be aware of our sins – our sins of commission, our sins of omission, our sins of ignorance – but we must not fix our attention on our sins. We must glance at our sins, but we must gaze at our Saviour.

Says Dr. A. J. Muste, "In Neo-orthodoxy when we became obsessed with human helplessness and human corruption instead of being caught up in the transcending of them by the grace of God, we are still preoccupied with self, still self-centered and therefore still self-righteous. If we do not end with the experience of the grace and power of God as that which overcomes and blots out our preoccupation with our sinful selves, we are but giving another demonstration of the pretension and corruption of man, not of the grace of God." (Quoted by E. S. Jones in "Growing Spiritually' pg. 11)

However, even Christians need daily forgiveness. No one comes up to the perfect standards of God. Our attitude as believers must be an attitude of humility and confession. It is only as we continue to have a broken and a contrite and humble spirit that we can have forgiveness on a continuing basis. John wrote, "If we continue to confess our sins, faithful is He and just to forgive us our sins and to cleanse us from every unrighteousness. If we say that we have not sinned and are now in a state where we do not sin, a liar we are making Him, and His word is not in us." (1 John 1:9-l0) (Wuest)

CONCLUSION: Christmas is for sinners – for respectable sinners with so-called respectable sins and also for repulsive sinners. Everyone stands on the same level at the foot of the cross. Remember, "He hath visited and redeemed his people." (Luke 1:68)

Confess your sins at Christmas time. Christmas is a good time to receive forgiveness and go on your way rejoicing. Whatever your sins are today is the day to confess them. Jesus came to save His people from their sins.

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Christmas Is For Sinners

Questions

  1. Even though Jesus, as a man, was tempted in all points as other humans are tempted, did he even once yield to temptation and to sin?

  2. Cite scriptures which indicate Jesus' accurate evaluation of mankind's sinful condition. (Note Matthew 23:27-28)

  3. Why is a spirit of humility an absolute prerequisite for spiritual healing? (John 9:39- 41)

  4. Why can it be said that 'Christmas Is For Sinners'?

  5. Why was the strange gift of myrrh, which one of the Wise Men gave to Jesus, so significant as a symbol of Jesus' mission on earth?

  6. As it relates to Jesus' identification with lost mankind, what significance do you attach to Jesus' words from the cross: "My God, my God, why have you forsaken me!"?

  7. If repentance is one of the absolute requirements for salvation, how would you describe and define 'Repentance'? (Luke 5:32; Luke 13:3; Luke 18:9-19; Acts 3:19; Acts 17:30)

  8. What is the relationship between 'Faith' and 'Repentance', as these words relate to conditions for personal salvation?

  9. Give your interpretation of the following statement: "Everyone stands on the same level at the foot of the cross."

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Here He Comes – Reconcile

Here He Comes – Reconcile

Here He Comes – Reconcile!

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CHAPTER 10

SUBJECT: "HERE HE COMES" – 'RECONCILE'!

SCRIPTURE: 2 Corinthians 5:14-21

TEXT: "How true it is, and how I long that everyone should know it, that Christ Jesus came into the world to save sinners." (1 Timothy 1:15)

INTRODUCTION: The Christ of the manager is the same Christ of the cross and the empty tomb, and to understand Christmas, one must understand the reason for which God came to be born as the Christ of the manger. "Christ Jesus came into the world to save sinners." Thus, the true meaning of Christmas is found in the word 'Reconciliation'.

I. Possibility Of Reconciliation

II. Necessity Of Reconciliation

A. Because Of The Possibility Of Sinning Against Each Other.

B. Because Of The Fact Of Misunderstandings In Human Relationships.

C. Because Continued Divine Fellowship and Forgiveness Is Granted On The Basis Of Ability To Forgive In Human Relationships.

D. Because Bitterness And Resentment Grieves The Holy Spirit And Destroys Fellowship Between Christians.

III. Steps To Human Reconciliation

A. A Christian Must Seek To Understand the Motives for People's Behavior.

B. A Christian Must Seek To Appreciate Differences In People's Temperaments And Backgrounds.

C. A Christian Must Hold No Secret Criticisms Of Another.

D. Remember That At The Basis Of Most Resentment Is A Touchy, Unsurrendered Self.

E. Raise The Question With Yourself As To Whether Your Resentments Aren't Rooted In Imaginary Slights, Insults, And Wrongs.

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F. Every Time When The Name Of The Person Against Whom You Are Tempted To Hold A Resentment Is Presented To Your Mind, Breathe A Prayer For Them.

G. Say Everything Good You Can About The Person Or Persons With Whom You Are Unfriendly.

H. When You Do Have To Speak Of The Faults Of A Person, Don't Say, 'I Don't Like That Person'. Rather, Say, 'I Don't Like Certain Things In That Person, And They Are These.

I. Remember That Fastening Upon Other People's Faults Is Usually A Defense – Mechanism.

J. If There Is A Sudden Flare-Up And A Consequent Breakdown In Relationships, Get Into The Habit Of Settling Disagreements At Once.

K. Be Inwardly 'Too Glad And Too Great' To be The Enemy Of Any Man.

CONCLUSION: Have you ever noticed how many of the traditional Christmas carols are not merely preoccupied with the Christ of the manager, but rather with the Christ of the cross and empty tomb. Our Christmas carols are deeply theological – speaking of the great doctrines of the Church – especially the theme of Reconciliation and Peace.

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CHAPTER 10

SUBJECT: "HERE HE COMES" – 'RECONCILE'!

SCRIPTURE: 2 Corinthians 5:14-21

TEXT: "How true it is, and how I long that everyone should know it, that Christ Jesus came into the world to save sinners." (1 Timothy 1:15)

INTRODUCTION: Soon we will be engulfed in the Christmas rush – buying presents, decorating our homes, serving company meals, playing Christmas carols, window shopping, writing Christmas cards to old and new friends, attending Christmas programs, making candy, and perhaps going to the mountains to pick out that special tree, and many, many more activities.

Christmas time is a time when many hearts are opened to give, when those same hearts are seemingly closed the rest of the time of the year. It is a time of glee, anticipation, surprises, gifts, and gladness – and rightfully it should be! Christmas brings happiness to many unfortunate children who are often overlooked most of the time. Perhaps there will be more giving at Christmas time than at any other time during the year, even by people who are usually greedy and grasping.

Amidst all of the activity of Christmas season, there is always the possibility of getting our eyes on the glitter instead of on the grace, to get our eyes on gadgets instead of on God, to get our eyes on the commercialization instead of on the Christ.

PROPOSITION: We can only truly understand the meaning of Christmas as it is inseparably connected with Easter. The Christ of the manager is the same Christ of the cross and the empty tomb, and to understand Christmas, one must understand the reason for which God came to be born as the Christ of the manger. "Christ Jesus came into the world to save sinners." Thus, the true meaning of Christmas is found in the word 'Reconciliation'. Christ came to reconcile sinners to Himself, and if we are to enter into the true spirit of Christmas, we must enter into the spirit of reconciliation with God and man.

I. Possibility Of Reconciliation.

Man was created in God's own image, and as such was made only for greatness and fellowship. Man had blessed communion with his Creator. He was meant to enjoy God's presence forever. Innocence, uprightness, strength, and obedience characterized man's beginning. God gave man superior intelligence, and permitted him to subdue the earth. Man's body was strong, his mind superb, his spirit unblemished.

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However, man lost his greatness. Man fell from splendor to despair, from the beauty of perfection to the vileness of distortion, from the joy of fellowship to the anguish of separation, from the freedom of innocency to the bondage of guilt, from health to weakness, from life to death. Man is estranged, haunted by loneliness and paralyzed by fear. He is alienated from God, from his fellow man, and from himself.

Paul taught that all of humanity indulged in sin and that the blanket wrath of God covered mankind. Says Paul, "We all… followed the impulses and imaginations of our evil nature, being in fact under the wrath of God by nature, like everyone else." (Ephesians 2:3, Phillips)

Man fell from God and is under the wrath of God. However, man is heaven-starved and in need of forgiveness and restoration and reconciliation.

"And Here at last we find 
Strict diagnosis of our malady, 
Which is, in short, that man is heaven-starved 
Men are born thirsting for infinity." 

(Abundant Living, page 95)

Christ's coming and His eventual death made possible man's reconciliation to God. "It was through what his Son did that God cleared a path for everything to come to him – all things in heaven and on earth – for Christ's death on the cross has made peace with God for all by his blood. This includes you who were once so far away from God. You were his enemies and hated him and were separated from him by your evil thoughts and actions, yet now he has brought you back as his friends. He has done this through the death on the cross of his own human body, and now as a result Christ has brought you into the very presence of God, and you are standing there before him with nothing left against you – nothing left that he could even chide you for: the only condition is that you fully believe the Truth, standing in it steadfast and firm, strong in the Lord, convinced of the Good News that Jesus died for you, and never shifting from trusting him to save you. This is the wonderful news that came to each of you and is now spreading all over the world. And I Paul, have the joy of telling it to others." (Colossians 1:20-23, Living Bible)

Christ makes it possible for man to be at one with God. "When William Tyndale was translating the New Testament into English, he encountered great difficulty in finding a word big enough to convey the meaning of the redeeming work of Christ. Finding no adequate word, Tyndale joined two simple words – 'at' and 'onement', thus making 'atonement' and giving in its etymology a clue to the Bible's teaching of salvation by reconciliation. In Christ's death on the cross, God and man, who had been severed by sin, were brought together by the cross." (World Aflame; Billy Graham; pg. 116)

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Man must face the fact of his estrangement and acknowledge that he can only be at one with God through faith and repentance. The object of man's faith is Christ who objectively accomplished man's reconciliation on the Cross. The meaning of man's repentance lies in his denial at attempts of self-reconciliation, and genuine sorrow for his sin.

"E. Stanley Jones has told a story of a little boy who stood before a picture of his absent father, and then turned to his mother and said wistfully, 'I wish Father would step out of the picture.'" (Sangster's Special-Day Sermons; page 17). The true meaning of Christmas is found in the fact that the God who rules this vast universe has stepped out of the universe to dwell upon this little, insignificant, sin-infested plant and lived and died for man, in order that sinners might be reconciled to the Father. The erring child may be reconciled. That is the true meaning of Christmas.

Have you repented and accepted Christ's offer of reconciliation? Remember, "All who trust him – God's Son – to save them have eternal life; those who don't believe and obey him shall never see heaven, but the wrath of God remains upon them." (John 3:36, Living Bible)

The meaning of Christmas is found in the fact that man must be reconciled to God. But also the meaning of Christmas is found in the fact that man must be reconciled to man. The spirit of Christmas is the spirit of reconciliation – man with God and man with man. To overlook either fact is to lose the spirit of Christmas. The angels praised God on the night of Jesus' birth, and announced the purpose of Christ's coming into the world: "Glory to God in the highest, and on earth peace, good will toward men." One cannot truly enjoy the spirit of Christmas and at the same time have ill will toward his fellow man.

The spirit of Christmas means the spirit of forgiveness and reconciliation. Christmas is a time of calling all men everywhere to be reconciled to God, and also a time for calling all believers to be reconciled to their fellow believers. The call of Christmas is the call to forgive and to be reconciled.

II. Necessity Of Reconciliation

A. Because Of The Possibility Of Sinning Against Each Other.

This problem of differences arising between fellow Christians is not new. Paul dealt with this problem in the Church at Philippi, as well as several other Churches. Wrote Paul to the Philippian Church: "And now I want to plead with those two dear women, Euodias and Synthche. Please, please, with the Lord's help, quarrel no more – befriends again. And I ask you, my true teammate, to help these women, for they worked side by side with me in telling

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the Good News to others; and they worked with Clement, too, and the rest of my fellow workers whose names are written in the Book of Life." (Philippians 4:2-3)

Jesus gave clear instructions as to what to do in cases between brothers who are divided: "So if you are standing before the altar in the Temple, offering a sacrifice to God, and suddenly remember that a friend has something against you, leave your sacrifice there beside the altar and go and apologize and be reconciled to him, and then come and offer your sacrifice to God." (Matthew 5:23, Living Bible)

B. Because Of the Fact of Misunderstandings in Human Relationships.

We need each other's forgiveness because we are very fallible human beings. One cause of misunderstanding among Christians is faulty judgment. The most sanctified Christian is subject to errors in judgment. With the best of intentions, a Christian can blunder and falter. Much misunderstanding among Christians is caused, however, because Christians make hasty judgments without sufficient knowledge even to form a judgment. What a different world this would be if we were very slow to form judgments about others.

"Has God deserted Heaven, 
And left it up to you, 
To judge if this or that is right, 
And what each one should do? 
I think He's still in business, 
And knows when to wield the rod, 
So when you're judging others, 
Just remember, you're not - God."

(God's Psychiatry; page 116)

Christians sometimes expect more of people than what God Himself expects of them. Many Christians have pronounced judgments upon people, only to find out later that such judgments were unjust and the cause of much humiliation. How often we misinterpret someone's action, facial expression, or overheard conversation. God help us to admit that we are sometimes faulty in our judgment.

Sharp differences in opinions sometimes sever strong-willed Christians. The contention between Paul and Barnabas was so great that they parted company. Christians oftentimes differ in outlook, tastes, and opinions, and from this alone, misunderstandings arise. It is very easy to talk, but often hard to listen.

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It is easy to be so convinced that one is right in his views, that he becomes closed-minded even to the suggestions or opinions of other Christians. The clash of strong-willed opinions often times breeds misunderstanding.

C. Because Continued Divine Fellowship and Forgiveness Is Granted On The Basis Of Ability To Forgive In Human Relationships.

Jesus made this truth clear in His Sermon on the Mount. He taught us to pray, "… and forgive us our sins, just as we have forgiven those who have sinned against us." Jesus further said, "Your heavenly Father will forgive you if you forgive those who sin against you; but if you refuse to forgive them, he will not forgive you." (Matthew 6:12, Matthew 6:14-15)

D. Because Bitterness And Resentment Grieves The Holy Spirit And Destroys Fellowship Between Christians.

"Don't cause the Holy Spirit sorrow by the way you live … Stop being mean, bad-tempered and angry. Quarreling, harsh words, and dislike of others should have no place in your lives. Instead, be kind to each other, tender-hearted, forgiving one another, just as God has forgiven you because you belong to Christ." (Ephesians 4:30 a, Ephesians 4:31, Ephesians 4:32, Living Bible)

"Since you have been chosen by God who has given you this new kind of life, and because of his deep love and concern for you, you should practice tenderhearted mercy and kindness to others. Don't worry about making a good impression on them but be ready to suffer quietly and patiently. Be gentle and ready to forgive; never hold grudges. Remember, the Lord forgave you, so you must forgive others." (Colossians 3:12-13, Living Bible)

III. Steps To Human Reconciliation

A. A Christian Must Seek to Understand the Motives for People's Behavior.

A Christian must seek to understand the motives for people's behavior. How much easier it would be to forgive our fellow men, if we would seek better to understand the motives for their behavior. Impoliteness may be caused by worry or pain. Suspicion may be caused by misinformation. Impatience may be caused by bad nerves. James Fraser, a missionary who worked hard and prayed intensely for his people, one day lost his temper in the presence of the very people to whom he was ministering. His problem was not primarily spiritual; his problem was physical. He had worked so hard and had prayed so long that he had failed to get sufficient exercise and fresh air. To understand the cause for one's behavior is to be aided in developing the forgiving spirit. How much easier it would be to forbear with one another, if we sought to

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understand the personality make-up and the behavioral motives of those with whom we differ.

B. A Christian Must Seek To Appreciate Differences In People's Temperaments And Backgrounds.

Each of us is unique and is born with differing temperaments that we will have the rest of our lives. People judge one another with such statements as these: "He's too progressive or he's too slow to change"; "He's too liberal or he's too conservative;" "He's too emotional or he's too staid"; "He's too visionary or he's too practical"; He's too talkative or he's too quiet"; "He's too active or he's too passive." These judgmental statements are made on the basis of one's own temperament or one's own background. It would be much easier to accept or to forgive one another, if we all learned to accept each other's differing temperaments and each other's differing backgrounds. Learn to give and take. Learn to appreciate that which is different from you.

C. A Christian Must Hold No Secret Criticisms Of Another.

E. Stanley Jones has a motto: "Fellowship is based on confidence; secret criticism breaks that confidence; therefore we will renounce all secret criticism." He further says, "If there is no outer criticism, then we know there is no inner criticism: so the fellowship is relaxed and unrestrained. We must welcome the mutual helpfulness of constructive criticism, for 'the best of us are only Christians in the making. ' If we are afraid of criticism we are living on the defensive, living by fear rather than by faith. Let us lower the barriers and welcome the worst and we will probably find the best!" (Abundant Living, E. S. Jones, pg. 268)

D. Remember That At The Basis Of Most Resentment Is A Touchy, Unsurrendered Self.

"The fact that we have been able to hold the resentment shows that there is a self that is oversensitive because Unsurrendered to the will of God." (E. S. Jones, Abundant Living, pg. 60)

E. Raise The Question With Yourself As To Whether Your Resentments Aren't Rooted In Imaginary Slights, Insults, And Wrongs.

"A self-centered person can image a group is talking about him when that group is talking about everything else but; he can read into actions and statements meanings never intended; he can go around with a suspicious, looking-for-slights attitudes, and will find imaginary ones a plenty." "Remember that 'when you go around with a chip on your shoulder, the chip is probably from the block above.'" (Ibid; pg.60)

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F. Every Time When The Name Of The Person Against Whom You Are Tempted To Hold A Resentment Is Presented To Your Mind, Breathe A Prayer For Them.

G. Say Everything Good You Can About The Person Or Persons With Whom You Are Unfriendly.

H. When You Do Have To Speak Of The Faults Of A Person, Don't Say, 'I Don't Like That Person'. Rather, Say, 'I Don't Like Certain Things In That Person, And They Are These.'

I. Remember That Fastening Upon Other People's Faults Is Usually A Defense – Mechanism.

"By doing so you are probably attempting to lift yourself up by pushing them down. It won't succeed. In mentally picking flaws in others you create a worse flaw in yourself – you become a sensitive, critical person, like the thing you habitually center upon.

J. If There Is A Sudden Flare-Up And A Consequent Breakdown In Relationships, Get Into The Habit Of Settling Disagreements At Once. (E.S. Jones)

"Most misunderstandings could be dissolved by quick action. If you let them go they fester." (Ibid; 268) Barclay says, "Again and again it is the experience of life that, if a quarrel, or a difference, or a dispute is not healed immediately, it can go on breeding worse and worse trouble as time goes on. Bitterness breeds bitterness. It has often happened that a quarrel between two people has descended to their families, and has been inherited by future generations, and has in the end succeeded in splitting a Church or a society in two. If at the very beginning one of the parties had had the grace to apologize or to admit fault, a very grievous situation need never have arisen. If ever we are at variance with someone else, we must get the situation put right straight away. It may mean that we must be humble enough to confess that we were wrong and to make apology; it may mean that, even if we were in the right, we have to take the first step towards healing the breach. When personal relations go wrong, in nine cases out of ten immediate action will mend them; but if that immediate action is not taken, they will continue to deteriorate, and the bitterness will spread in an ever-widening circle." (Barclay's Matthew, pages 142, 143)

(All of the points in this last Section of the message are taken from E. Stanley Jones in his book 'Abundant Living'.)

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K. Be Inwardly 'Too Glad And Too Great' To be The Enemy Of Any Man.

"Be so preoccupied with good will that you haven't room for ill will Dr. George Carver, the great Negro scientist and saint, has risen to fame through his classical discoveries and service to the farmers of the South. Someone asked him to reveal the name of the university which had accepted him as a student and then, on discovering he was a Negro, had refused him admittance. Dr. Carver consistently refused to tell, passing the incident off as nothing. He had what somebody called 'the peace that passeth not only all understanding, but all misunderstanding.' Someone said to me (Jones), 'I don't think you know when you are insulted'. I replied, 'I am not looking for insults and so don't see them'." (Ibid; 63)

CONCLUSION: Christmas time is a time when peace ought to reign between God and man and between man and man, especially in the Church – "As a prisoner for the Lord, then, I urge you to live a life worthy of the calling you have received. Be completely humble and gentle; be patient, bearing with one another in love. Make every effort to keep the unity of the Spirit through the bond of peace." (Ephesians 4:1-3, Living Bible)

Have you ever noticed how many of the traditional Christmas carols are not merely preoccupied with the Christ of the manager, but rather with the Christ of the cross and empty tomb? Our Christmas carols are deeply theological – speaking of the great doctrines of the Church – especially the theme of Reconciliation and Peace.

IT CAME UPON A MIDNIGHT CLEAR

Still thro' the cloven skies they come, 
With peaceful wings unfurled, 
And still their heavenly music floats 
O'er all the weary world: 
Above its sad and lowly plains 
They bend on hovering wing, 
And ever O'er its Babel sounds 
The blessed angels sing.
For lo! The days are hastening on, 
By prophet bards foretold, 
When with the ever circling years 
Comes round the age of gold; 
When peace shall over all the earth 
Its ancient splendors fling, 
And the whole world sends back the song 
Which now the angels sing. 

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WHILE SHEPHERDS WATCHED THEIR FLOCKS BY NIGHT

"All glory be to God on high, 
And to the earth be peace:
Good will henceforth, from heaven to men, 
Begin and never cease!" 

HARK! WHAT MEAN THOSE HOLY VOICES

Peace on earth, good will from heaven, 
Reaching far as man is found: 
Souls redeemed and sins forgiven! 
Loud our golden harps shall sound. 

I HEARD THE BELLS ON CHRISTMAS DAY

I heard the bells on Christmas Day 
Their old familiar carols play, 
And wild and sweet the words repeat 
Of peace on earth, good will to man. 

HARK! THE HERALD ANGELS SING

Hark! The herald angels sing, 
"Glory to the newborn King; 
Peace on earth, and mercy mild, 
God and sinners reconciled!" 
Hail the heaven born Prince of Peace! 
Hail the Son of Righteousness! 
Light and life to all he brings, 
Risen with healing in His wings. 

O LITTLE TOWN OF BETHLEHEM

For Christ is born of Mary, 
And gathered all above, 
While mortals sleep, the Angels keep 
Their watch of wondering love. 
O morning stars, together 
Proclaim the holy birth, 
And praises sing to God the King 
And peace to men on earth! 

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GLORY TO GOD IN THE HIGHEST

Hark! The cherubic armies shout, 
And glory leads the song: 
Goodwill and peace are heard throughout 
The harmonious heavenly throng. 
With Joy the chorus we repeat, 
"Glory to God on high!" 
Goodwill and peace are now complete, 
Jesus was born to die. 

PEACE ON EARTH – GOODWILL TO MEN

Peace on earth, Goodwill from heaven, 
Reaching far as man is found: 
Souls redeemed and sins forgiven! 
Loud our golden harps shall sound. 

Let us meditate often on the truth of our great text: "How true it is, and how I long that everyone should know it, that Christ Jesus came into the world to save sinners." (1 Timothy 1:15)

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CHAPTER 10

QUESTIONS

  1. During the Christmas Season, have you ever felt the 'pull of temptation' in your own life, as described in the following statement? "Amidst all of the activity of Christmas season, there is always the possibility of getting our eyes on the glitter instead of on the grace, to get our eyes on gadgets instead of on God, to get our eyes on the commercialization instead of on the Christ."

  2. Explain what is meant by the following statement: "We can only truly understand the meaning of Christmas as it is inseparably connected with Easter."

  3. As Mankind, as represented by Adam and Eve, fell into sin through disobedience to God's command, what consequence did this "Fall" have in terms of human interpersonal relationships?

  4. Because of Christ's death on the cross, what has God made possible for every human being, in terms of interpersonal relationships? (Note Colossians 1:20-23)

  5. What is the basic meaning of the word 'Atonement'?

  6. What must a person do, in order for him or for her to be reconciled to God? (Note John 3:16, John 3:36)

  7. Tell to what degree you agree with the following statements: "The spirit of Christmas is the spirit of reconciliation – man with God and man with man. To overlook either fact is to lose the spirit of Christmas."

    Is it possible for a professing Christian to be "at odds" (feeling enmity) with another person, and, at the same time, enjoy intimate fellowship with God? Why or why not? (Note 1 John 3:10-18; John 4:7-8, John 4:11, John 4:20-21)

  8. Is the problem of misunderstanding between fellow Christians a problem which exists only in modem-day Churches, or was this a problem even during the time of the Early Church? (Note Philippians 4:2-3)

  9. What should a believer do if he learns that a fellow believer has been offended by him? (Note Matthew 5:23)

  10. From your perspective and personal experience in interpersonal relationship, why do you think that fellow Christians find it so "easy" to judge one another?

  11. Tell why you agree or disagree with the following statement: "Christians sometimes expect more of people than what God Himself expects of them."

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  12. Give your reacting or response to the following statements: "It is very easy to talk, but often hard to listen. It is easy to be so convinced that one is right in his views, that he becomes close-minded even to the suggestions or opinions of other Christians. The clash of strong-willed opinions oftentimes breeds misunderstandings." (Note Isaiah 1:18; Philippians 2:1-4; James 3:17; Acts 15:36-41; Ephesians 4:31-32)

  13. What condition must a believer meet if he is to continue to experience God's forgiveness of his sins? (Note Matthew 6:12, Matthew 6:14-15; Matthew 18:21-35)

  14. What should be our attitude towards those who wrong us and sin against us? (Note Ephesians 4:30-32; Colossians 3:12-13)

  15. How is seeking to understand the motives in another person a real aid in helping you to more quickly and easily forgive what seems wrong to you in another person?

  16. How does taking into consideration another person's temperament and background a real aid in helping you to understand and to forgive another person of his mistakes, shortcomings, and sins?

  17. Give your reacting or response to the following statements: "We must welcome the mutual helpfulness of constructive criticism, for 'the best of us are only Christians in the making'? If we are afraid of criticism we are living on the defensive, living by fear rather than by faith. Let us lower the barriers and welcome the worst, and we will probably find the best!"

  18. Tell why you agree or disagree with the following statement: "The fact that we have been able to hold resentment shows that there is a self that is oversensitive because unsurrendered to the will of God."

  19. Has it been your experience that overly-sensitive people tend to "read into actions and statements meaning never intended", and that they tend to hold resentments that are rooted in imaginary slights, insults, and wrongs"? What do you believe is the best "cure" for "over sensitivity" in a person's life?

  20. How does praying for a person, against whom you are tempted to hold resentment, help you?

  21. Why is it so important to say everything good that you possibly can, about a person with whom you are unfriendly? Does the fact that you "dwell on the fine, good things in other" (Philippians 4:8, Living Bible), and the fact that you verbalize those good qualities which you see in others, help you to begin to think and to feel positively about those persons with whom you don't have a close relationship (and with those persons that you don't naturally like)?

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  22. Is it possible for a Christian to love another person whom he does not like"? Why or why not? (Note Luke 6:27-36) Does 'agape' love (divine-type love) involve a "commitment of the will" or is it a "sentiment of the heart"? Is it possible, through God's enabling grace, for you to genuinely love your "enemies", even though you may hate their actions and attitudes and may not be naturally attracted to then personality? Why or why not?

  23. According to 2 Peter 1:5-8, what are the progressive steps which a believer must take, in order to become truly Christlike and mature in the Christian Faith? What is the greatest characteristic that best describes true maturity and Christ likeness?

  24. Is it possible for you to fasten and focus on the faults which you see in others, without at the same time becoming a critical and judgmental and overly – sensitive person yourself? What is the difference between being judgmental (Matthew 7:1), and evaluating and examining the character of another person (Matthew 7:15-20; 1 John 4:1-3)?

  25. Give your personal reacting or response to the following statements: "If ever we are at variance with someone else, we must get the situation put right straight away. It may mean that we must be humble enough to confess that we were wrong and to make apology; it may mean that, even if we were right, we have to take the first step towards healing the break."

  26. Is it possible for one to be so full of the love of God that he is "too glad and too great to be the enemy of any man"?

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Freedom From Judgmentalism

Freedom From Judgmentalism

Chapter Six

Freedom From Judgmentalism
Freedom From Judgmentalism 47 Learning To Conquer A Critical Spirit 51
Various Ways Of Judging 48 Demonstrating a Charitable Attitude 52
“Judge Not That Ye Be Not Judged!” 49 Discussion Questions 53
God Alone Is Capable Of Judging! 50

Philippians 2:1-5

Freedom From Judgmentalism

“Your attitude should be the same as that of Christ Jesus.” (Philippians 2:5 NIV). Having the mind of Christ means that we will be freed from the bondage of judgmentalism. To be freed from the critical spirit which seeks to judge our fellowmen, we must turn our eyes upon Jesus and look fully into his wonderful face.

My Master’s Face

"No pictured likeness of my Lord have I; 
He carved no record of His ministry 
On wood or stone, 
He left no sculptured tomb nor parchment dim, 
But trusted for all memory of Him 
Men's hearts alone.
Who sees the face but sees in part; who reads 
The spirit which it hides, sees all; he needs 
No more. Thy grace - 
Thy life in my life, Lord, give Thou to me; 
And then, in truth, I may forever see 
My master's face!

– William Hurd Hillyer –

(Christ and the Fine Arts; pg. 5)

“Thy life in my life, Lord; give Thou to me” – this must be the prayer of every sincere believer! The mind of Christ and the life of Christ is the mind and life of charity and acceptance. Not harshness, but sweetness of spirit. Not criticism, but compassion. Not rejection, but acceptance. Not judgmentalism, but charitableness. Not condemnation, but salvation. Not intolerance, but flexibility. Not dogmatism, but openness. Not rigidness, but adaptability.

The more of the mind of Christ that one experiences, the less of the spirit of criticism and judgmentalism will one possess.

"Jesus, thou art all compassion, 
Pure unbounded love thou art."

The Master’s face is not sour and critical, but it is sweet and radiant – radiant with the love of the Father’s heart.

"I cannot think or reason 
I only know He came 
With hands and feet of healing 
And wild heart all aflame."

– Willard Wattle –

(Ibid; pg. 219)

“Father, help me to see people through the eyes of Christ, and in seeing people thus, see them as people who are redeemable and full of God-given potential! May I see beyond the surface to the depth, beyond the apparent to the real, beyond the action to the intent, beyond the face to the heart. Knowing all about another, I will forgive all in another. In Jesus’ forgiving name. Amen.”

AFFIRMATION FOR THE DAY: I will not usurp God’s authority in life – the authority to judge others!

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47


1 Timothy 5:19-25

Various Ways Of Judging

Some judge a person’s future on the basis of that person’s present. “A play producer, Gilbert Frankau, was producing a play and was in need of a male actor to play the leading part. He sent to a theatrical agency for a young male actor and after he was interviewed and tested, Gilbert Frankau telephoned to the agent and said, ‘This man will never do. He cannot act, and he never will be able to act, and you had better tell him to look for some other profession before he starves. By the way, tell me his name again so that I can cross him off my list.’ The actor’s name was Ronald Colman who became one of the greatest actors the screen has ever know.” (Daily Study Bible; Matthew, pg. 266) Never judge a person’s future on the basis of his present!

Some judge a person on the basis of partial knowledge or on the basis of external appearance. The person who is reserved while in a group, for instance, cannot be said necessarily to be timid at all times. Usually the persons you and I know are partially figments of our imagination. We judge them, on the basis of inadequate information.

How often have we judged a person to be snobbish, when this was not the case at all; he was inflicted with inferior feelings. A person who appears listless or passive most of the time, might prove to be one of the most aggressive am helpful persons during a period of emergency.

“There is a kind of crystal called Labrador spar. At first sight it is dull and without lustre; but if it is turned round and round, and here and there, it will suddenly come into a position where the light strikes it in a certain way and it will sparkle with flashing beauty. People are like that. They may seem to be unlovely, but that is because we do not know the whole person. Everyone has something good in him or her. Our task is not to condemn, and to judge by superficial unloveliness, but to look for the underlying beauty.” (Daily Study Bible; Matthew; pg. 267)

Some judge a situation on the basis of unreliable circumstances. Imagine a situation in which a minister is called upon by a young widow woman to take her to the hospital on emergency, late at night. Suppose too that it is very difficult for the minister’s wife to go with her husband, because of small children in the home. In such a situation, the neighbor who happens to look out the window just as the woman is getting into the minister’s car, could judge the minister as being unfaithful or could reserve judgment am could put the best construction on the situation. As Christians, we must always give another the benefit of a doubt, regardless of the appearances surrounding a situation.

“Father, help me never to draw quick conclusions about people, without the adequacy of facts and without the sensitivity of deep understanding. Help me to believe the best about people, never the worst. Help me to assume, if there is any room for assumption at all, that people are much better than what others say they are. In the charitable name of Jesus. Amen.”

AFFIRMATION FOR THE DAY: Believing the best about others will help others to become their best!

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48


Matthew 7:1-5

“Judge Not That Ye Be Not Judged!”

Matthew 7:1 says, “Judge not, that ye be not judged.” This can be interpreted as: “Do not condemn or criticize others if you do not want to be criticized yourself by others.” The person who criticizes others most is usually the person who receives most criticism and is liked the least. This statement has also been interpreted as: “Do not judge others it you yourselves do not wish to be judged harshly by God at the final judgment of evaluation for believers.”

The Scriptures definitely teach a coming judgment for believers – a judgment which will judge the quality of life believers have lived on earth! This judgment is sometimes refereed to as ‘the judgment of works’, or ‘the judgment of evaluation’. It is not a judgment to determine one’s final eternal destiny. Rather, it is a judgment to test the worth and quality of the Christian’s works and relationships on earth.

1 Corinthians 3:10-15 is one of several Scriptures which refer to this judgment of believers. “Let each take care how he builds. There can be no other foundation beyond that which is already laid; I mean Jesus Christ himself. If anyone builds on that foundation with gold, silver, and fine stone, or with wood, hay, and straw, the work that each man does will at last be brought to light; the day of judgment will expose it. For that day dawns in fire, and the fire will test the worth of each man’s work. If a man’s building stands, he will be rewarded; if it burns, he will have to bear the loss; and yet he will escape with his life, as one might from a fire.” (New English Bible) The Christian who judges may be saved eternally, but he is certain to suffer some type of loss at the judgment of evaluation. “For we must all appear before the judgment seat of Christ; that everyone may receive the things done, whether it be good or bad.” (II Cor. 5:10)

Jesus further says, “For with what judgment ye judge, ye shall be judged: and with what measure ye mete, it shall be measured to you again.” (Matthew 7:2) Jesus seems to be saying: “Judge not, for in not judging others, you do not set the standard for your own judgment.” The standard that we apply in judging others will be applied in judgment of us! If we expect much of others, much will be expected of us. If we judge others harshly, we will be judged harshly. “The slave who knows his master’s plan but does not get ready or act upon it will be severely punished, but the servant who did not know the plan, though he has done wrong, will be let off lightly.” (Luke 12:47-48 a Phillps) By the way we treat others in this life, we set the standard for our own judgement hereafter!

“Father, just as I desire to receive mercy, not justice, from your hand, so help me to extend mercy, not judgment, towards others. To extend forgiveness to others is to receive forgiveness from you. To withhold forgiveness from others is to forfeit my forgiveness from you. Help me to judge not that I be rot judged! In Jesus’ lovely name. Amen.”

AFFIRMATION FOR THE DAY: I will seek to treat others in the same way that I desire to be treated by God – kindly and uncritically!

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49


1 Samuel 16:7; 2 Corinthians 5:12; Hebrews 4:13

God Alone Is Capable Of Judging!

“And why beholdest thou the mote that is in thy brother’s eye, but considerest not the beam that is in thine own eye? Or how wilt thou say to thy brother, Let me pullout the mote out of thine eye; and, behold, a beam is in thine own eye? Thou hypocrite, first cast out the beam out of thine own eye; and then shalt thou see clearly to cast out the mote out of thy brother’s eye.” (Matthew 7:3-5)

Jesus is saying: “Judge not for you are incapable of judging.” God alone is capable of doing that. Notes Barclay, “NO man is good enough to judge any other man. Jesus drew a vivid picture of a man with a plank in his own eye trying to extract a speck of dust from someone else’s eye… Only the faultless has a right to look for faults in others.” (Daily Study Bible; Matthew; pg. 268) It is hypocritical to criticize others when you have the same or worse faults in yourself. Said Jesus, “Ye are they which justify yourselves before men; but God knoweth your hearts: for that which is highly esteemed among men is abomination in the sight of God.” (Luke 16:15)

This is a vivid picture that Jesus uses to describe the folly of judging others. It is like a blind oculist (eye doctor) attempting to remove a small speck of dust from another person’s eye. Only God who clearly sees all men’s hearts is capable of judging or criticizing.

Wrote Paul, “Now if you feel inclined to set yourself up as a judge of those who sin, let me assure you, whoever you are, that you are in no position to do so. For at whatever point you condemn others you automatically condemn yourself, since you, the judge, commit the same sins. God’s judgment, we know is utterly impartial in its action against such evildoers. What makes you think that you, who so readily judge the sins of others, can consider yourself beyond the judgment of God?” (Romans 2:1-3 Phillips) However, as Lloyd-Jones points out, “There is all the difference in the world between doing that (Judging) and expressing an enlightened, intelligent criticism of a man’s views and theories, his doctrine, his teachings or his mode or manner of life. We are called upon to do the latter; but the moment we condemn and dismiss the person we are assuming a power that belongs to God alone and to no one else.” (The Sermon On The Mount; pg. 169)

We are not to condemn a person, but we are to judge the rightness or wrongness of his position, morally and perhaps theologically. We are commanded to “contend for the faith that was once for all entrusted to the saints.” (Jude 1:3) Jesus said we are to be ‘fruit inspectors’: “By their fruits ye shall know them.” (Matthew 7:16) We are to examine and evaluate and discriminate between truth and falsehood, but we are not to judge men.

“Father, let me never be eager to tell others their faults, for I myself am full of faults. The faults I most readily see in others are the same faults that are most glaring in me. Deliver me decisively from all fault-finding. Help me to focus on the fine, good things in others. In Jesus’ affirming name. Amen.”

AFFIRMATION FOR THE DAY: People grow through affirmation but wither through criticism. By God’s grace, I will be an affirming person!

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50


Ephesians 4:30-31; James 5:16

Learning To Conquer A Critical Spirit

When you clearly see your personal need of forgiveness and mercy, you will be motivated to be forbearing, forgiving and merciful towards others (Ephesians 4:30-31). Realize that the spirit of judgmentalism evaporates as soon as you become conscious of your own faults and when you are willing to speak freely of them. A humble spirit of confession is incompatible with a harsh spirit of criticism. The two cannot co-exist. So learn to practice sincere and humble confession. James wrote, “Do not grumble, brethren, against one another, that you may not be judged; behold, the Judge is standing at the doors… Therefore confess your sins to one another, and pray for one another, that you may be healed.” (James 5:9, James 5:16)

Confession is the way to healing – healing both for yourself and for another. It is a good solution to the problem of a critical spirit.

Only when I hate sin intensely within myself, will I love and accept the wrong-doer unconditionally, and know, not to condemn him, but to share with him my own wrongdoings. Only as I focus on taking the beam out of my own eye, will the wrong-doer be convinced of the beam in his own eye. Only when I, as a believer, engage in self-incrimination, open sharing, humble confession, will the wrong-doer be motivated to do the same.

To criticize a man is to drive a man into self-justification and thus away from repentance and away from God. We hinder, not help, a man by becoming his judge. By becoming his judge, we stand in the place of God who alone is Judge. The transgressor acknowledges wrong-doing in the quietness of personal contemplation or in the presence of a non-critical friend.

‘Judge not’ – that is the call to every Christian. How can you rid yourself of this overbearing, destructive practice? “The spirit of judgmentalism evaporates as soon as I become conscious of my own faults and speak freely of them to my friend, as he speaks to me of those which made him reproach, himself.” (The Best of Paul Tournier; pg. 85)

Confession is contagious! The cost of being a counselor is to confess my own faults to the counselee. Healing of the troubled person takes place, not in the atmosphere of criticism or self-righteousness, but in the atmosphere of mutual caring and sharing. How are conflicts and problems in relationships solved? Not by exchange of logic and debate and arguments which are generally exchanged as if in the presence of two deaf men. But by exchange of heartfelt confession of personal weakness and needs, creating an atmosphere of true caring and sharing. When my attitude changes from one of judgmentalism to understanding and humble confession, I build a bridge of love and openness, creating healing in relationships.

“Father, take away my fear of personal vulnerability. Make me honest and open and transparent. Tear down my walls of defense, and enable me freely to confess my sins, both to you and to those who love me. Then I shall enjoy fellowship at the deeper levels. In Jesus’ name.”

AFFIRMATION FOR THE DAY: Courage to confess my sins to others will allow me to enjoy the healing of God and the reconciliation of men.

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51


John 8:3-11; Luke 9:49-50

Demonstrating a Charitable Attitude

Being a loving person means allowing others to live their own lives, without imposing your own convictions and standards upon them. Hold your convictions confidently, but never force them on another. There is no place for harshness or arrogance in the holding of convictions. Have a generous and appreciative spirit towards others who differ from you, and even be willing to listen, to learn, and sometimes even to change your own ideas. “Oliver Cromwell wrote once to the intransigent Scots, ‘I beseech you by the bowels of Christ, think it possible that you may be mistaken.’ T.R. Glover somewhere quotes a saying, ‘Remember that whatever your hand finds to do, someone thinks differently!'” (Daily Study Bible; Luke; pg. 130; Barclay)

A good motto is, “Live and let live!” When E. Stanley Jone’s daughter was married, Jones remarked, “I never want to be in the way; nor out of the way – if I’m needed.”

Tolerance – the right kind of tolerance – seems to be a lost virtue. Not the tolerance of compromise and worldliness, but the tolerance that excludes judgmentalism and narrow-mindedness.

“Of all the greatest religious leaders none was such a pattern of tolerance as John Wesley. ‘I have no more right’, he said, ‘to object to a man for holding a different opinion from mine than I have to differ with a man because he wears a wig and I wear my own hair; but if he takes his wig off and shakes the powder in my face, I shall consider it my duty to get quit of him as soon as possible… The thing which I resolved to use every possible method of preventing was a narrowness of spirit, a party zeal, a being straitened in our own bowels – that miserable bigotry which makes many so unready to believe that there is any work of God but among themselves… We think and let think.’

“When his nephew, Samuel, the son of his brother Charles, entered the Roman Catholic Church, he wrote to him, ‘Whether in this Church or that I care not. You may be saved in either or damned in either; but I fear you are not born again.'” (Daily Study Bible; Luke; pg. 130; Barclay)

Jesus condemned sin but he never condemned the sinner. He was open and accepting and charitable, and forbearing (Luke 9:49-50). There is no harshness of spirit in Jesus. Jesus is gracious, winsome, attractive, and loving. Jesus is not judgmental or condemning. The Son of God came not to condemn the world but to save the world (John 3:17). To the woman taken in adultery, Jesus said, “Woman, where are those thine accusers? hath no man condemned thee?” She answered, “No man, Lord.” And Jesus said unto her, “Neither do I condemn thee; go, and sin no more.” (John 8:10-11)

“Lord, let me hold firm convictions without being harsh towards others who differ from me. ‘Give me an open mind, a tender heart, a teachable spirit. Give me an expansive view of life, willing to learn from everyone everywhere. Give me that humility that welcomes correction and change throughout my entire life. In Jesus’ name. Amen.”

AFFIRMATION FOR THE DAY: I will not allow my first impression to be my last impression of people, but will direct my attention to the deeper qualities of people, which are discovered with increased time and deeper experience!

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52


 

Discussion Questions On ‘Freedom From Judgmentalism’

  1. Do you agree with the following statement: “The more of the mind of Christ that one experiences, the less of the spirit of criticism and judgmentalism will one possess.”
  2. Why is it unwise and dangerous to judge a person’s future based on his present condition or achievements?
  3. Why is it unwise and dangerous to judge a person on the basis of partial knowledge or on the basis of external appearance?
  4. What is the difference between judging a person and evaluating a person? (consider Matthew 7:1, Matthew 7:15-20, and 1 John 4:1-3
  5. What does Matthew 7:2 mean to you?
  6. Do you agree or disagree with the following statement: “By the way we treat others in this life, we set the standard for our own judgment hereafter!”
  7. Why is it true that God alone is capable of judging another human being?
  8. What is perhaps the strongest motivation to be forbearing, forgiving, and charitable towards others rather than judgmental towards others?
  9. In what ways is ‘Confession’ a good solution to the problem of a critical spirit?
  10. Do you agree or disagree with the following statement: “Only when I, as a believer, engage in self-incrimination, open sharing, and humble confession, will the wrong-doer be motivated to do the same.”
  11. Do you agree or disagree with the following statement: “To criticize a man is to drive a man into self-justification and thus away from repentance and away from God.”
  12. What is meant by the phrase ‘Confession is Contagious’?
  13. Is it possible to hold your own personal convictions firmly without imposing them upon others and without judging others for not accepting your convictions?
  14. What are some right and some wrong expressions of tolerance in relationship to others?
  15. In terms of attitudes and behavior, what does it mean to condemn sin without condemning the sinner?

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53


Overcome Circumstantial Temptations

Overcome 'Circumstantial' Temptations

Chapter Two

Overcome 'Circumstantial' Temptations
Conquering The 'Giant' Of Jealousy! 26 Conquering The 'Giant' Of Negativism! 34
Conquering The 'Giant' Of Judgmentalism! 28 Is Faith 'Idealism' Or 'Realism'? 36
Conquering The 'Giant' Of Envy! 30 Discussion Questions 38
Are You 'Exclusive' Or 'Inclusive' In Your Love Of Others? 32    

Matthew 20:20-28

Conquering The 'Giant' Of Jealousy!

Let that 'mind' be in you which was also in Christ Jesus. The battle against jealousy is won in the mind Step by step, let us note how this deliverance is accomplished. First, see the possibility of deliverance through Christ alone who never envied another.

Second, honestly face your personal need for deliverance. It is humiliating to admit you have this problem, but the Great Physician can only heal you if you confess it.

Third, re-channel your tendency towards comparison with others. God accepts you just as you are and, therefore, you don't need to build up your ego by comparing yourself with others in a less favorable condition than you (which leads to ugly pride), and you don't need to plunge yourself into despair or into jealousy by comparing yourself with others who appear to be in a much more favorable condition than you. The quest in our society for power, popularity, dominance, and leadership breeds envy, strife, and jealousy. Compare yourself only with yourself, that you might continue to grow.

Fourth, rejoice in the God-ordained place which Christ has for you personally. God has a place for all in His great family. There is no need for any member to compare itself with any other member of the Body of Christ (Church), for each member has a different function and each member is needed for the healthy functioning of the entire Body. A great antidote against envy and jealousy is learning to enjoy others and learning to enjoy giving preference and honor to others. The only competition, worthy of the name of Christ, is the competition of love – seeking to outdo one another in ads of compassion and love! This attitude makes for a harmonious Church!

Fifth, realize that Christ can take away the desire for the approval and praise of the 'Crowd' – the source of much envy and jealousy. and that Christ can replace this desire with the sole desire for the praise and approval of God. The one-talented servant of God, who is inwardly confident that he is sincerely seeking to 'please the Master', may feel the 'smile of God's approval' on his life. If his Savior approves of him and 'praises' him, why should he need the applause of mere men?

Sixth, play down your own successes. Emphasize long-time brotherhood. Don't magnify new differences in status or attainments or successes. Never deliberately provoke envy in another, either through overt remarks of conceit or through actions of pride. "Let your love be perfectly sincere… allowing one another to enjoy preference of honor." (Romans 12:9, Berkeley) Says Proverbs 27:2, "Let another praise you, and not your own mouth; someone else, and not your own lips." Focus on others, not on yourself!

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"Father, help me to die, both to the praise and to the blame of men, and study only to show myself approved by You. Make me 'jealous' only for your 'smile of approval.'"

AFFIRMATION FOR THE DAY: I will rejoice in the God-ordained place which God has given to me and not envy God's place for someone else!

– Ron Christian –

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1 Corinthians 4:1-5; Matthew 7:1

Conquering The 'Giant' Of Judgmentalism!

One 'trap' (sin) that believers must always guard against is the 'trap' of judgmentalism. It is far too easy for Christians, who are 'very different' from each other, to succumb to the temptation to judge each other. The Christian with an impulsive temperament may be misunderstood (and judged) by the Christian whose temperament is passive. The cheerful temperament may have 'problems' with the artistic temperament which is given more often to moodiness. The activistic temperament may have 'problems' with the meditative temperament. The extrovertive temperament may grow impatient with the introvertive temperament. When different temperaments conflict and patience grows thin, there is need for the 'grace' of tolerance and understanding, and for the 'oil' of forgiveness. Try to overlook the 'personality flaws' in others, and focus instead on their strengths and virtues. Be patient with others, slow to judge, quick to forgive!

William Barclay suggests three reasons why no one is capable of judging another: (1) We never know the whole facts or the whole person. We cannot understand his circumstances or temptations. (2) It is almost impossible for any man to be strictly impartial in his judgement. (3) No man is good enough to judge another man. Our own faults and our own inability to resolve them automatically disqualify us as fair critics.

Notes John Church, "This leads me to call your attention to the fact that in the Book of Leviticus, the 13th and 14th chapters, the truth is brought out in a very striking way, that sometimes there was brought to the High Priest a person who had an eruption which looked very much as if the person was a leper. However, the High Priest was not hasty in his judgment on that person, for it was a serious thing to pronounce him a leper. If there was any doubt at all in the mind of the Priest, he always gave the person involved the benefit of the doubt. He had him shut up for seven days and then he looked again. If he was still not sure, he withheld judgment and had the person shut up for seven more days. In some cases this was repeated until a period of twenty one days passed before he would pass final judgment on a person. I have often read this passage and thought of what a wonderful thing it would be if all Christian people would manifest the same patience in judging their fellow men about their sins and faults. Just suppose that we would be willing to wait twenty one days before we finally passed judgment upon the conduct of our brother. What a different world this would be! The trouble with us is that we condemn and pass judgment before all the evidence is in, and many people are condemned before they have a hearing. Too bad that this is true, for many lives have been hurt and reputations have been ruined by such hasty judgment. Let us be patient and wait until all the evidence is in; it may not be as bad as we think," (Earthen Vessels; pg. 16,17)

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"Father, forgive me for my critical, judgmental attitude towards my fellow Christians. Help me to be slow to speak and quick to listen, slow to judge and quick to forgive."

AFFIRMATION FOR THE DAY: Jesus said 'Judge Not' and He also said 'Ye shall know them by their fruit.' Fruit-testing (1 John 4:1-3)? Yes! Critical Judging (Matthew 7:1)? No!

– Ron Christian –

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Matthew 6:19-21

Conquering The 'Giant' Of Envy!

Have you ever felt like you took two steps forward and three steps backward, that the harder you tried to live a godly life the more adversities and reverses you seemed to experience? Have you ever felt a spirit of envy and covetousness come over you when you observed the wicked in their prosperity in contrast to your hardships and obstacles and financial troubles? Have you ever wondered why God allows the wicked man to enjoy pleasures and power and position and prestige, while God, at the same time, allows the righteous man to suffer hardships of all kinds – financial losses, physical infirmities, heart-breaking sorrows, spiritual depressions? Have you ever thought that health and wealth automatically belonged to you by virtue of your spiritual sonship in God's family, and that, when you weren't enjoying prosperity, God must be failing to keep His promises? Have you ever been tempted to demand an explanation of why some who are not as righteous as you are, seem to get ahead in life? If you believe that material prosperity is a sure sign of God's blessings, then you will be very confused, maybe even bitter, if you observe the wicked prospering while you are not prospering! Envy is the result of one person (in this case, a believer) making an unfavorable comparison with another(in this case, with a prosperous wicked man). If we are honest, most of us would have to admit that the seeming "prosperity" of our unsaved friends, in contrast to our seeming "failure", causes envious feelings to rise to the surface of our hearts.

What is the answer to your evil coveting? He who falls in love with God soon falls out of love with the things of this-world! It is learning to covet what God covets, to treasure what God treasures, to delight in what God delights in. Setting your affections on God and on heavenly things, is exchanging the world for heaven, is exchanging the temporary for the permanent, is making the Living God the object of your coveting rather than making your false and manmade gods the object of your coveting. Treasuring God and desiring the smile of God's approval, and coveting a God-like character – these new affections replace the old affections. It is the object of your coveting that determines whether your coveting is right or wrong. Jesus did not forbid you to lay up treasures, but He did define the kind of treasures you are to lay up and He did pinpoint. the place where those treasures are to be deposited. "Do not store up for yourselves treasures on earth, where moth and rust destroy, and where thieves break in and steal For where your treasure is, there your heart will be also." (Matthew 6:19-21) Loving God and His eternal Kingdom is one of the best antidotes for evil coveting! He who is preoccupied with trying to please and obey God, is not preoccupied with trying to outdo his fellow men. The one who follows God need not envy the worldling whose desires are inflamed by what the world has to offer-houses and lands, power and pleasures, fortune and fame.

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"Jesus, You are the "Water of life" and the "Bread of life" – the satisfaction of my greatest 'hungers' and my insatiable 'thirst'! In Thee, all my needs are fully supplied!"

AFFIRMATION FOR THE DAY: Jesus never promised His-followers material wealth or worldly power, but He did promise "abundant life" here and "eternal life" hereafter!

– Ron Christian –

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1 Corinthians 13:1-13

Are You 'Exclusive' Or 'Inclusive' In Your Love Of Others?

One of the temptations which believers often face is the temptation to be 'exclusive' in their attitudes and actions towards other persons (persons who are 'professing Christians') who greatly differ in their religious beliefs and practices from themselves. Followers of Jesus Christ must never forget that love (given to humble believers as a gift by the Holy Spirit, Romans 5:5) not only covers a multitude of sins (James 5:20 and I Peter 4:8), but that love also seeks to include in one's circle of fellowship the greatest number of believers that one can possibly include. Love is 'inclusive', not 'exclusive'! There are certain negative words which accurately describe what love is NOT. Love is not narrow, sectarian, judgmental, rigid, critical, proud. Rather, love is broad, open- minded, charitable in judgment-making, accepting, positive, humble, teachable, flexible, and tolerant. Notes the great Christian theologian and philosopher, Francis A. Schaeffer, "One must realize that there is a great difference between believing in absolutes and having an absolutist mentality about everything." (The Church At The End of the 20th Century; pg. 151)

In his excellent book 'Love Covers', Paul Billheimer notes, "The only power that will bring unity in the Body of Christ is the power of agape love. Adequate love for Jesus enables one to accept and love those whom He accepts and loves, regardless of their opinions in non-essentials. We shall never be united by conceptual truth, church polity, liturgy, or any canon or confession of faith – only by agape love. With a sufficient flow of love in the Body, all divisive factors will shrink and diminish in significance. No breach in the Body of Christ is caused primarily by superior knowledge, differing convictions, or divergent views of truth; but by one thing and only one – lack of agape love. Therefore, the only remedy will be found in growth in love, that is, authentic love for God. God knows that finite minds will never reach absolutely inerrant conclusions. He knows that many controversies will never be settled this side of heaven. If infallibility in doctrine or conceptual truth in nonessentials is all important in God's sight, why did He leave room for doubts and differences of opinion? May it not be that He permits uncertainty in nonessentials to give opportunity for practice and growth in love? Which is more important, to be right in opinion and wrong in spirit or to be wrong in opinion and right in spirit? What happens when one is wrong in spirit? Is not the Holy Spirit within him consciously grieved and does He not witness to offense by an inward sense of disapproval? God may, and does, bless those with opposite views on nonessentials. God may and does bless those with contradictory views but He never blesses lovelessness." ('Love Covers' by Paul Billheimer; portions, pgs. 106,107,112)

"Loving Heavenly Father, I confess that I too often have sinned by excluding your children from my personal fellowship, simply because they think and act and react and worship differently than I do. Please forgive me for my sectarianism, and now open my

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heart to embrace all true believers in my affections. In Jesus' charitable name. Amen."

AFFIRMATION FOR THE DAY: All who have bowed their knees and who have declared with- their lips that' Jesus Is Lord' are my brothers and 'sisters in God's big Family!

– Ron Christian –

AFFIRMATION FOR THE DAY: There is a 'gold mine' of creative genius hidden in every person; I determine to help others discover their God-given treasures!

– Ron Christian –

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1 Samuel 17:8-11, 1 Samuel 17:32-51

Conquering The 'Giant' Of Negativism!

In your 'battle' against the 'giant' of negativism remember that, as a follower of Jesus Christ, you serve the most positive person who ever lived! Jesus is the 'Divine Yes' to all of life, for He puts a positive Yes upon every No that comes to a Christian! When a believer experiences unexplainable tragedy or when he observes life's many inequities, injustices, and mysteries, he is tempted to become cynical, bitter, pessimistic, and negative. When you are severely tempted to become an 'agnostic', you must express your faith in God! That is to say, in spite of your confused mind and your 'bleeding' heart (because of life's losses and disappointments), you must reaffirm that God knows what is best (Be is all-wise), God wants to give what is the best (He is all-loving), God can do what is best (He is all-powerful)! Even though you can't understand with your mind, you can accept (trust) with your heart! In all of life's experiences you can learn to give thanks, for nothing can happen to the true believer but what God allows, and God will not allow His children to shed any 'needless tears'. To help you avoid falling into the 'trap' of 'negativism', you must often quote Romans 8:28 – "And we know that all that happens to us is working for our good if we love God and are fitting into his plans."

As in the case of young David who courageously confronted the evil giant (Goliath) – as recorded in today's Scripture Reading – you must not dwell on the 'discouraging' conditions which surround you, and you must not absorb the negative spirit of reactionary and critical people! What is one of the greatest 'secrets' to overcoming the 'giant' of negativism? David didn't lose heart and succumb to the temptation to be negative and pessimistic because he had his eyes on God, not on Goliath. David did not make youthful boasts based on his own supposed strength. David made confident claims based on his personal faith in Almighty God! David remained 'positive' and did not become paralyzed with fear because he knew God, and in knowing of God's power, the power of Goliath looked like nothing to David! The 'secret' to facing threatening situations (the 'giants') is to know God, to have so much confidence in God's strength and might that the might of Duman problems looks small in comparison!

Your faith in God (during life's crisis) can be contagious. David's close contact with God was David's basis for encouraging others not to lose heart, as they faced the 'death threats' of Goliath. If you choose 'optimistic faith' instead of 'pessimistic doubt', you will be amazed at the number of 'timorous believers' whom you will excite and awaken in their exercise of faith in the Almighty God! Like David, when you live close to God, you are in a position to be a great encourager to others (especially to those 'weak believers' who are wavering in their faith – who look at the 'dark side' of life).

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"Father, hold me 'steady' during life's losses and griefs, when I find it too easy to think and speak and act negatively. Use me to help 'rally' others to exercise positive faith!"

AFFIRMATION FOR THE DAY: Because God is on the 'throne' of the universe, I believe there is 'sunshine' behind every 'cloud', purpose in every mystery, 'grace' for every tragedy!

– Ron Christian –

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1 Samuel 17:8-11, 1 Samuel 17:32-51

Is Faith 'Idealism' Or 'Realism'?

When the adults (including King Saul) confronted the mighty giant (Goliath), they believed that their reaction of 'fear' was a reaction of 'realism'. These negative-thinking and negative-speaking adults (Israelite soldiers) ridiculed young David for his optimistic talk, in defiance of Goliath. The faith-filled and positive-minded David asked: "Who is this heathen Philistine, anyway, that he is allowed to defy the armies of the living God?" (1 Samuel 17:26 b, Living Bible) David, who was accused of ' youthful idealism', was the only one present who was truly 'realistic'. David alone 'focused' on the God of Israel, whose power was far greater than the boasted strength of Goliath who served the false gods of the Philistines. When a believer (like David) trusts alone in the God of the universe, that believer is the person who has truly 'connected' with reality! In this classic story of David and Goliath, adult pessimism (in the name of 'realism') confronted youthful idealism (in the name of 'faith') and David's victory over Goliath proved to everyone that day that 'faith in God' (not 'pessimistic fear') was what constituted 'realism'!

So-called 'youthful idealism' (as seen in the courage and faith of David) is too often criticized by 'sophisticated' adults. When Eliab, David's oldest brother, heard David speaking with the Israelite soldiers, Eliab burned with anger at David and he asked: "Why have you come down here? And with whom did you leave those few sheep in the desert? I know how conceited you are and how wicked your heart is; you came down only to watch the battle." Eliab and the other brothers were negative, faithless, critical, pessimistic – and all in the name of 'realism'! What a 'perversion of reality'! David alone was the 'realist', for David focused his sole attention on Almighty God! King Saul too was negative and faithless: "You, David, are not able to go out against this Philistine and fight him, you are only a boy, and Goliath has been a fighting man from his youth. " Saul pointed out David's limitations. David was small and Goliath was big! David was inexperienced, and Goliath was an experienced warrior!

There are adults today who try to discourage a child's or a youth's exercise of faith and optimism. There are those who attempt to bring death to youthful aspirations and dreams and hopes. What kind of 'word' do you give to young persons – a 'discouraging word' or an 'encouraging word'? Do you help inspire the visions and dreams of young people, or do you, in the name of 'realism', throw 'cold water' on their zeal and enthusiasm? Parents (and other adults) who destroy the faith, idealism, and spiritual visions of their children, cause their children to lose hope and to despair and to become (like the adults) pessimistic and negative! What tragedy and what a sin! Woe to such an adult (see Matthew 18:6)!

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"Father, I want to be a person of positive faith, encouraging young people to 'focus' on their potential, not on their limitations; to 'reach for the stars', not 'wallow' in the mud."

AFFIRMATION FOR THE DAY: There are no 'impossible' situations in life, only people who have grown faithless when confronting the challenges of life!

– Ron Christian –

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Discussion Questions

  1. Tell to what extent you agree (or disagree) with the following statement: "God accepts you just as you are and, therefore, you don't need to- build up your ego by comparing yourself with others in a less favorable condition than you (which leads to ugly pride), and you don't need to plunge yourself into despair or jealousy by comparing yourself with others who appear to be in a much more favorable condition than you."

  2. What steps have you personally taken to curb your tendency (temptation) towards selfish (hurtful) competition with others?

  3. Have you learned to rejoice in the God-ordained place which God has uniquely given to you and not to envy God's place for someone else? (Note John 21:15-23)

  4. Why do you think there's such a strong tendency (temptation) for Christians to judge (i.e., to criticize) their fellow Christians (or other persons, in general)? What is the difference between properly evaluating (testing) the life and character of other persons, and improperly judging (criticizing) other persons? (Note Matthew 7:15-20; 1 John 4:1-3; Matthew 7:1-5)

  5. Give several reasons why you (as a believer) are incapable of 'judging' another person.

  6. Have you ever felt a 'spirit of envy and covetousness' come over you, when you observed the wicked in their prosperity in contrast to your hardships and obstacles and financial troubles? If so, what is the 'answer' (solution) to your wrongful coveting? (Note Psalm 73)

  7. From your own personal experiences and from your .observation of other godly persons, tell if you believe the following statement reflects 'reality': "He who is preoccupied with trying to please and obey God, is not preoccupied with trying to outdo his fellow men."

  8. Why is it "so dangerous" for Christians to teach that financial prosperity and physical health are "evidences" ("signs") of God's special favor on a person's life? Tell to what degree you agree (or disagree) with the following statement: "Jesus never promised His followers material wealth or worldly power, but He did promise 'abundant life' here and 'eternal life' hereafter!"

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  9. What should your attitude be towards fellow Christians whose theological beliefs and personal 'convictions' and Biblical interpretations and material lifestyle and worship style are very different than your own? (Note 1 Corinthians 13:1-13; Romans 14:1; Romans 15:7)

  10. Which is more important, to be right in opinion and wrong in spirit, or to be wrong in opinion and right in spirit? Tell if you agree or disagree with the following statement: "God may and does bless those with contradictory views but He never blesses lovelessness."

  11. How does belief in God's sovereignty help you to cope with life's inequities and mysteries and injustices? (Note Romans 8:28) Tell to what extent you agree or disagree with the following statement: "In spite of your confused mind and your 'bleeding' heart (because of life's losses and disappointments), you must reaffirm that God knows what is best (He is all-wise), God wants to give what is best (Be is all-loving), God can do what is best (He is all-powerful)!"

  12. What is one of the greatest 'secrets' to overcoming the 'giant' of negativism?

  13. From the example of David's defiance against the pagan giant (Goliath), what affect will your "positive attitudes of faith" have upon other persons surrounding you? (Note 1 Samuel 17:8-11, 1 Samuel 17:32-51)

  14. Is faith in God 'idealism' or 'realism'? Why? Why can it be said that the Christian, whose sole focus is on God, is the genuine 'realist'?

  15. Do you help inspire the visions and dreams of young people, or do you, in the name of 'realism', throw 'cold water' on their zeal and enthusiasm?

  16. Are you a 'possibility thinker' or do you tend negatively to focus on the problems in people and in situations? What steps have you taken to rid yourself of your tendencies (temptations) towards negative (pessimistic and faithless) thinking?

  17. Do you, like the apostle Paul, tend to see the possibilities and potential in other people (in even 'down-and-out' people), or do you tend to disqualify and disinherit and discriminate against people? (Note Philemon 1:1-25) In your 'general outlook' on life, do you tend to see 'problems' or 'possibilities' in people and in life's situations? Generally-speaking are you a 'positive-minded' or a 'negative-minded' person? From a Biblical and practical perspective, why is it so vitally important for you to be a 'positive-minded' person? What are some of the specific benefits which you and others receive as a result of your positive thoughts and positive actions?

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  18. Do you see a 'bundle of possibilities' in every child you meet, or do you see most children as an 'immature annoyance'? Do you believe that encouragement will do far more for people than rebuke will do? Why or why not?

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