January 25, 2007

Matthew 7

I think one of the great things about Matthew 7, is that it provokes thought and discussion. It reminds me a lot of how pride and humility go hand in hand. ie: You can be humble and show humility, but if you tell anyone about it, you've become proud. I think at the end of day, you start to realize that God has a pretty good sense of humor.

Matthew 7:1-2 is another prime example of this. I received a comment to my "Spirit-filled worship" post that quoted verse 2. How do you quote such a verse to someone without you yourself contradicting that verse?

If we examine Matthew 7, what is Jesus trying to teach us?

In verses 1-5, Christ is teaching us that we should not form or express conclusions about others without seeing or dealing with our own issues.

But then He gives us verse 6, which is telling us to judge the dogs, the pigs. In other words, don't judge.. but judge. Personally, I think verse 6 is teaching discernment, which is still drawing conclusions but based on biblical principle.

In 1 Corinthians 2:15, Paul calls Christians to make "judgments about all things". If we as Christians really want to follow our Lord's teaching to love our neighbors, we can't escape our responsibility to warn and challenge those around us in the face of opposition. I believe Matthew 7:1-2 is simply a guideline to follow when judging/discerning others. It can't mean that we must give all spiritual discernment in order to be "loving Christians".

In Matthew 7:15, 16 and 20, Jesus *demands* spiritual discernment.

Is it our duty as Christians to keep discerning conclusions to ourselves, in order to avoid "judging"? Matthew 7:1 isn't saying that it is sinful to confront, challenge or warn others. Again, I see it more as a guideline.

Christ has commanded us to judge those in the church according to the standards of His Word. (1 John 4:1, Matthew 24:23-25, 2 Timothy 4:2-4).

Now to revisit my previous post about Spirit-filled worship.

Firstly, the fruits of the Spirit: Love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness, self-control. A fruit of the Spirit is JOY. If we are full of Spirit, would we not exhibit traits of the Holy Spirt? Would we not exhibit joy?

Secondly, singing as a form of worship. I never said people must sing in worship. My biggest lament of my church congregation is the fact that people look like they are tired, bored, and wishing they were somewhere else. However upon doing some research, singing does in fact have an important place in the worshipping of God. In fact, according to the Bible, singing is a big part of worship. In Ephesians 5:19, Paul instructs the saints at Ephesus to "sing and make melody in your heart to the Lord". Colossians 3:16 says "singing with grace". James 5:13 says "Is anyone cheerful? Let him sing psalms". Matthew 26:30 "sung a hymn". 1 Corinthians 14:15, "I will sing with the Spirit, and I will also sing with the understanding.. Revelation 5:9 - "and they sang a new song", Revelation 15:3 "They sing the song of Moses, the servant of God, and the Song of the Lamb." Acts 16:25 "were praying and singing hymns to God".

Paul tells the Colossians to sing with thankfulness in your hearts to God. I don't know anyone, regardless of how conservative and introverted they are, show thankfulness by looking bored, tired and unresponsive.

Finally, I've been thinking about people would read my previous post and felt offended by it. Is it that hard to believe that not all of us are high in Spirit? My conclusion is that it's possible that someone might misinterpret that being "spirit-empty" is a sin. I've been spirit-empty before, I don't think I was being sinful. Just not spirit-filled. People talk of spiritual-burnout, when someone pours so much out, there is nothing left and they need a recharge. There's nothing wrong with that.

My contention is that if people are feeling spirit-empty, they should feel the need to rectify it, just as I would. Spend more quiet time talking to God. Read the Word and replenish your soul. Pray. Fellowship with your fellow believers.

That's all I've got for now.

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