Tag Archives: hate

Is it discernment, or is it judgment?

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But the wisdom that comes from heaven is first of all pure; then peace-loving, considerate, submissive, full of mercy and good fruit, impartial and sincere. Peacemakers who sow in peace reap a harvest of righteousness. (James 3:17-18)

Fundamentalist Christians must be aware that they sound judgmental. I’ve always wondered how they can square that with the Bible: “Do not judge, or you too will be judged. For in the same way you judge others, you will be judged, and with the measure you use, it will be measured to you.” (Matthew 7:1) However, they continue to make judgments on others, in and out the church, and argue that they are not being judgmental. Recently, I heard someone say, “I’m not judging; I’m discerning.” He was involved in an online argument over (what else?) gay rights. I want to understand the Bible, so I don’t make snap decisions. I prayed, and I did a quick study on discernment. This is a portion of what I found. I included some context here (because context is important).

If any of you lacks wisdom, you should ask God, who gives generously to all without finding fault, and it will be given to you. James 1:5

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For the word of God is alive and active. Sharper than any double-edged sword, it penetrates even to dividing soul and spirit, joints and marrow; it judges the thoughts and attitudes of the heart. Nothing in all creation is hidden from God’s sight. Everything is uncovered and laid bare before the eyes of him to whom we must give account. (Hebrews 4:12).

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The person without the Spirit does not accept the things that come from the Spirit of God but considers them foolishness, and cannot understand them because they are discerned only through the Spirit. The person with the Spirit makes judgments about all things, but such a person is not subject to merely human judgments, for “Who has known the mind of the Lord so as to instruct him?” But we have the mind of Christ. (1 Corinthians 2:14-16)

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Paul and Timothy to all God’s holy people in Christ Jesus at Philippi … “And this is my prayer: that your love may abound more and more in knowledge and depth of insight, so that you may be able to discern what is best and may be pure and blameless for the day of Christ, filled with the fruit of righteousness that comes through Jesus Christ—to the glory and praise of God.” (Philippians 1:10).

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Who is wise and understanding among you? Let them show it by their good life, by deeds done in the humility that comes from wisdom. But if you harbor bitter envy and selfish ambition in your hearts, do not boast about it or deny the truth. Such “wisdom” does not come down from heaven but is earthly, unspiritual, demonic. For where you have envy and selfish ambition, there you find disorder and every evil practice. But the wisdom that comes from heaven is first of all pure; then peace-loving, considerate, submissive, full of mercy and good fruit, impartial and sincere. Peacemakers who sow in peace reap a harvest of righteousness. (James 3:13-18)

None of these passages say we should “discern” others. In fact, they indicate that it’s pointless, because discernment comes from God Himself and from the Holy Spirit.

According to the dictionary, Christian discernment (anakrino) is perception in the absence of judgment with a view to obtaining spiritual direction and understanding. It is related to wisdom. The passages here lead me to believe that I am to use discernment regarding my own walk with God and my relationships with fellow Christians; I found nothing here requiring me to go out into the world and “discern” other people’s sins. I urge anyone who is interested in discernment (and who thinks they’re required to “discern” other people’s sins) to read these chapters in full.

Certainly, discernment is important. But I continue to believe that nearly all of us should be the best example of Jesus’ gracious love that we can be, practice discernment only within the church (Matthew 18:15-17, Galatians 6:1), and leave judgment to God.

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Against Such Things There is No Law

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But the fruit of the Spirit is love, joy, peace, forbearance, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness and self-control. Against such things there is no law. Galatians 5:22-23

What about contempt, anger, discord, impatience, ridicule, meanness, dishonesty, rudeness and sarcasm? Where do they fit into a Christian’s life?

What about judgement? What about HATE?

Do these words fit your “witness” in any way? Sometimes they fit mine. I get so frustrated, and I think of some really clever comeback, and BOOM, out it comes. The perfect way to “heap coals on the enemy’s head” right? And I gloat for a few seconds, (until the person I’m sparring with comes up with an equally withering remark). And we keep going, an endless back-and-forth of clever comebacks.

That’s not from God. That’s the devil. That’s me, filled with pride.

I’ve heard people say, many times, “It’s not hate; it’s honesty.” Oh, come on. If it involves an escalation of anger and name-calling, it’s hate. At best, it’s honest hate.

But kindness… “Against such things there is no law.” God will not strike you down for talking kindly to a nonbeliever, or to someone who believes differently than you do. You have an opportunity to gently guide them toward God. And He forgives them, even as they sin.

Jesus said, “Father, forgive them, for they do not know what they are doing.” And they divided up his clothes by casting lots. Luke 23:34

Before you open your mouth (or commit your words to a comment box), pray. Ask God to put kind thoughts in your soul, so only kind words will come out. Remember, He died for the person you’re arguing with.

Who is my Neighbor?

Progressive 20And as for Ishmael, I have heard you. Behold, I have blessed him, and will make him fruitful, and will multiply him exceedingly. He shall beget twelve princes, and I will make him a great nation. Genesis 17:20

If you need a refresher, Ishmael was Abraham’s firstborn son. His mother was Hagar, maid of Sarai; she was sent into the desert. The story in the Quran is similar, only with an emphasis on the branch of the family that led to Islam.

Hagar was clearly a godly woman: Genesis 21:17-21 says

“God heard the boy crying, and the angel of God called to Hagar from heaven and said to her, “What is the matter, Hagar? Do not be afraid; God has heard the boy crying as he lies there. Lift the boy up and take him by the hand, for I will make him into a great nation.” Then God opened her eyes and she saw a well of water. So she went and filled the skin with water and gave the boy a drink. God was with the boy as he grew up.

If God blessed the originators of Islam, who are we to curse it? And why must we close our hearts to the many kind, peaceful Muslims?

I believe we should see Muslims as Jesus told us to see the Good Samaritan in Luke 10:25-37: “‘Love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your strength and with all your mind’; and, ‘Love your neighbor as yourself.’”

Who is my neighbor? Anyone who is loved by God!

Who Am I Supposed to Hate?

Progressive 13“But mark this: There will be terrible times in the last days. People will be lovers of themselves, lovers of money, boastful, proud, abusive, disobedient to their parents, ungrateful, unholy, without love, unforgiving, slanderous, without self-control, brutal, not lovers of the good, treacherous, rash, conceited, lovers of pleasure rather than lovers of God— having a form of godliness but denying its power. Have nothing to do with such people.” 2 Timothy 3:1-5

Boy, I see a lot of finger-pointing. If you watch the news, you know there’s a fundamentalist watchlist: the people to avoid seem to be gays, Muslims, scientists, liberals, and poor people. (I’m sure I missed some. Gun haters? Tree huggers?) Liberals, on the other hand, mostly single out Fundamentalists and Creationists (as well as pro-birthers and climate deniers–notice how the language reflects an opinion). But neither of these exactly fit the list above. (And too few people examine their own selves when looking at this kind of verse.)

So, who should I avoid? I read the Bible, and I pray, and I listen to the Holy Spirit. And I keep my distance from people described in the passage above, even if they’re good “believers.” My friends and mentors are kind, honest people, even those who don’t see eye-to-eye with me politically.

As for the finger-pointers? They seem to be overrepresented in these verses. I’m not hanging around with the finger-pointers.

Can You Argue Someone Into Heaven?

progressive 10“A hot-tempered person stirs up conflict, but the one who is patient calms a quarrel.” Proverbs 15:18

It seems to me that today’s Christians are very good at arguing. The verses that they depend upon are often the “clobber passages”: short, pithy, and mean. These verses tend to have words in them such as abomination, evil, and wicked. (And sometimes they lack all context… literal and cultural.) I also see Christians trying to impress people with their vast Biblical knowledge, and the fact that they are “not ashamed” of the gospel. (Yeah, we get that.)

But is that really the way to proclaim the Good News?

Jesus didn’t argue. He answered the argumentative Pharisees (sometimes turning their nasty comments back on them), knowing that they only wanted to trip him up.

“The Pharisees came and began to question Jesus. To test him, they asked him for a sign from heaven. He sighed deeply and said, “Why does this generation ask for a sign? Truly I tell you, no sign will be given to it.” Mark 8:11-12

Sometimes His silence spoke louder than any argument:

“So again Pilate asked him, ‘Aren’t you going to answer? See how many things they are accusing you of.’ But Jesus still made no reply, and Pilate was amazed.” Mark 15: 4-5

He spoke plainly to those who wanted to listen, and He didn’t waste His time on those who didn’t. And most importantly, His example—toward those who the “good” religious folks wouldn’t approve of—was always one of love and acceptance. That’s the example I choose to follow.

So. Does arguing bring people closer to God? Maybe. Sometimes. If a person is almost ready to commit, and if they have some question that’s bothering them, and if you say just the right thing…

Or…

It just pushes them farther away.

It is Still More Blessed to Give Than to Receive

Progressive 07“In everything I did, I showed you that by this kind of hard work we must help the weak, remembering the words the Lord Jesus himself said: ‘It is more blessed to give than to receive.’ – Acts 20:35

Recently, the pervasive attitude in America is “Help yourself; Take care of yourself.” But that’s clearly not Biblical. Paul himself said, “… these hands of mine have supplied my own needs and the needs of my companions.” He worked hard and he shared.

Some Christians are generous with their own time and money, but the political trend is to block attempts to help others: to keep poor people poor and give them handouts such as dinner once a week. In fact, I’ve seen verse 34 used as a condemnation of the poor—even though the context doesn’t fit. And some of us lump all poor people together as “unemployed” and “lazy,” when this isn’t actually the case. Most work long, hard hours doing things we’d rather not do, are unemployable, or are too young or old to work.

Meanwhile, taxes, minimum wage, and the cost of college assure that the very rich will stay rich, the middle class will struggle, and the poor will remain poor. A hot dinner doesn’t help people rise from poverty; it keeps them there. The political battlecry is “Don’t waste money on the poor!”

Is that what people are? A waste? Jesus wouldn’t say so.

What is the Most Important Issue in the Bible?

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“If I speak in the tongues of men or of angels, but do not have love, I am only a resounding gong or a clanging cymbal.” 1 Corinthians 13:1

I chose this for number 6 because there are six verses in the Bible about homosexuality. SIX. Compare this to the number of verses about greed, about lust, and about divorce, and more important… the countless verses about love. (There is a count, but I’ll go with “lots.”)

Does God hate gay people? Only if He hates greedy people, selfish people, angry people, lazy people, lustful people… (maybe you get the idea). Is homosexuality a sin? I’ve read about it. I’ve prayed about it. I decided I’ll leave that up to theologians.

I am on the side of gays.

I am on the side of love.