Thursday, September 17, 2015

Defining Characteristics of a Disciple

My father-in-law was a chicken farmer. When he would receive 50,000 baby chicks in two giant truckloads, it would take a few days to get everything situated. I have watched him many times pull a chick from the enclosure. “Why did you take that chick out?” I would ask. “It’s different—see the specks, and because it’s different the other chicks will peck it to death.”

I have observed that chicks are not the only creatures that do that. Humans also have a way of attacking other humans who are different. In Jesus’ Sermon on the Mount he taught us to have an accepting spirit, "Do not judge, and you will not be judged. Do not condemn, and you will not be condemned. Forgive, and you will be forgiven” (Luke 6:37). This is one of the most misunderstood verses in the Bible. People love to quote this verse out of context because judging is thought to be such a politically incorrect thing. Jesus, however, is not referring to making moral judgments because the next few verses make that clear (43-45) where he talks about judging a person by their fruit.

What Jesus is taking about is our being petty and going around with a critical spirit.  Nothing is more miserable to be around a know-it-all who can see what is wrong with everyone but himself. Jesus in effect is saying, “Stop being suspicious of every one. Stop finding fault with people around you. Stop focusing on the failings of others.” To do so is hypocritical because we haven’t even dealt with our own failings. So Jesus said, "Why do you look at the speck of sawdust in your brother's eye and pay no attention to the plank in your own eye?” (Luke 6:41). Jesus’ illustration is so extreme because he wants us to see our need to deal with our problems first before trying to help someone else. Jesus continues, “How can you say to your brother, 'Brother, let me take the speck out of your eye,' when you yourself fail to see the plank in your own eye? You hypocrite, first take the plank out of your eye, and then you will see clearly to remove the speck from your brother's eye” (Luke 6:42).

Before we can try to help anyone with their speck, we have deal with our own stuff. We have to acknowledge our own failings. It’s the height of hypocrisy to strut around inspecting eyeballs for specks while we have a plank hanging out of our own eye. Only when we have removed the plank from our eye can we see clearly to help our brother in the spirit of compassion and mercy. Then we seek to restore them because we know what it is all about because God has showed us mercy.

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