Friday, April 26, 2013

Who Holds the Gavel?

Judging Righteously


My husband and I get a lot of genuine questions sent to us regarding our Front Line ministry to the unborn but it is the amount of rude comments and/or judgmental accusations that we are being too judgmental thrown our way by fellow Christians that really get us scratching our heads. 

Abortion is an explosive topic in our society and the subject is impregnated with politics.  I understand that.  But the problem doesn't lie there…it lies in the  fact that too many believers have chosen to travel the easy road called “not getting involved” in order to not risk offending someone. Although they believe abortion is wrong they would never want to impose their moral opinions on somebody else—they say, "The people you are talking to don't believe in God anyway, so you shouldn't use His word in your debate." First off, this is not a debate. We are told in scripture that the Law of God is written on the heart of man, it is man that has suppressed the truth through his rebellion—it is our job to declare God's standard of righteousness to a vile generation.  But most Christians in today's world would rather live out their faith without creating conversations that might involve conflict. 

My husband and I do not seek offense with any person but desire to always answer in a respectful and Christ-like manner—we are fully aware that many people:

¬ are disturbed by protesters associated with the likes of the Westboro Baptist Church and want nothing to do with such haters (and rightly so),
¬ have sadly experienced hypocrisy in the church and are wounded by condescension  (or taking up an offense of someone else that has been wounded), or
¬ are simply ignorant of what Scripture actually teaches. 

The latter is all too commonly the case!  In fact, it is knowing what the Scripture teaches that will make nil and void the first two reasons for not engaging in public square evangelism—calling sinners to repentance!  "Because others have done it/are doing it wrong!" is never an excuse to not boldly do that which Scripture commands!

The truth is, God has already passed judgment and He has commissioned the church to let people know what that judgment is.  How else would mothers turn from abortion, how else would souls be saved from Hell? We do not stand outside of abortion mills to personally judge according to our own opinion; we go to warn those going in that God has already spoken plenty on the subject.  Plenty! 

It is extremely easy to quote scripture out of context and form a belief that is erroneous to the whole of the Book.  I’m sure you’ve heard them, or maybe you have used them.  Like this famous line, “it is not our job to judge!”   And how about this one, “a sinner judging another sinner is #*^@$%” (actual quote)!   That heated statement (made by a professed Christian) is based on Scripture misapplied.  The passage (from which all this rhetoric stems) is as follows: “Judge not, that ye be not judged.  For with what judgment ye judge, ye shall be judged: and with what measure ye mete, it shall be measured to you again” (Matthew 7:1-2). 

The Lord addressed “the hypocrite” in his earthly ministry many times—but before we start name calling and drawing nasty conclusions, let’s make sure we define hypocrisy in the same manner our Lord did.  Jesus did not characterize a “hypocrite” as being a sinner pointing out the sin in another, but a sinner who did not allow the Holy Spirit’s work in his own life pointing out the sin in another.   Jesus is teaching us how to point out sin—He is not telling us to stop!  Jesus is teaching us how to judge according to His judgment and reminding us of our own tendency to sin along the way.  It keeps us humble.  It gives us proper passion and the desire to see others come to the Savior.

"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 pull out the mote out of thine eye; and, behold, a beam is in thine own eye? Thou hypocrite, first cast out the beam out of thin own eye; and then shalt thou see clearly to cast out the mote out of thy brother's eye" (Matthew 7:3-5).

When we stand and proclaim truth at an Abortion Mill we are judging that life is precious and worth protecting—that the life of every person, no matter how small, is of great value.  And those women, men, doctors, nurses, and people driving by who yell out obscenities, or just act put out that we are “all up in their business” and accuse us of judging…well, ya, they are also judging.  By their words and actions they judge life to be cheap and something to casually throw away—casually murder away.  They judge that life has no value. 

According to Jesus’ teaching in Matthew, those who declare life will receive life—“for with what judgment ye judge, ye shall be judged.”  And those who demand death will receive death—for “with what measure ye mete, it shall be measured to you again.” 

God commands His people to speak up.  In the book of Romans, Paul asks a series of questions which lead up to the most amazing conclusion—God intends to use man to warn man!  Yes, that is right…fallen, imperfect, sinful man to preach His gospel to fallen, imperfect, sinful man!

"How then shall they call on Him in whom they have not believed" and how shall they believe in Him of whom they have not heard? and how shall they hear without a preacher" And how shall they preach, except they be sent? as it is written, How beautiful are the feet of them that preach the gospel of peace, and bring glad tidings of good things!" (Romans 10:14-15).

Sadly, Christians give love an unprecedented part to play in declaring what is right.  God’s love is bound to the truth—it is not bound to a feeling!  My husband says “always speak the truth in love—but always speak the truth!” 

Just because you witnessed a fellow believer speak harshly to an individual, or arrogantly raise himself above the consequence of the law when putting someone in their place, does not negate your own duty to speak!  Regarding the topic of abortion, God clearly demands your voice—“Open thy mouth for the dumb in the cause of all such as are appointed to destruction. Open thy mouth, judge righteously, and plead the cause of the poor and needy"(Proverbs 31:8-9). God commands us to let others know what He already declares concerning  the murder of innocent blood!  

The point is, we will judge, there is no getting around that fact.  Let’s just make sure we are passing the right judgment!  

Another common problem Christians have with our stand is founded on an improper use of the word compassion—with the idea that women seeking abortions have been victimized, are running from the hypocrites of the church, have had no moral training, are scared of being disowned with no one to turn to, etc…  And then, “there you are telling them that what they are doing is wrong—pushing them farther away from God.”  No compassion.  No understanding of where they are coming from.  “You really should get to them before you meet them at the door of the abortion clinic”—somehow minister to them before they find themselves pregnant?  “Your message comes across too pharisaical!" “Abortion is murder—is too hard a statement!”  It might get their attention...might hurt their feelings…might tell them the truth…might rescue them from a lifetime of guilt...might save a life from being slaughtered in cold blood?

In Ephesians chapter 4, Paul exhorts the church to “put on the new man” and therefore, (performing that action) man will be putting away all sin. The new man is made after God and is characterized by “righteousness and true holiness”—two attributes we would never gain through our own efforts, no matter how hard we tried. But they are what is required to satisfy a righteous and holy God! When it comes to the thoughts and intents of my heart (for out of this reservoir flows all my behavior) I must not rely upon my own understanding. I must take myself and set it aside! And then I must pick up the “new man” and clothe my mind and my will and my emotions with the garment of God’s absolute truth.

Our feelings, “compassions”, or preferences must never dictate our responses. Therefore, we might need to hold out on them—we might need to sit on them for a bit…and take time to consider if God would agree with what we think and feel is appropriate.

“Come now, let us reason together, saith the Lord.” This plea comes after a rather disturbing discourse on God’s disgust over Israel’s actions. He wanted nothing to do with Israel’s appearance anymore. With strong language, God tells them that their sacrifices and feasts were a trouble to Him—“My soul hateth [them]…I am weary to bear them” (1:14). “Come now,” He says, “though your sins be as scarlet, they shall be as white as snow” (1:18). Our Lord wants nothing to do with “obedience” if our hearts are tainted and rebellious. No matter how holy our words and actions appear they are a stench in His nostrils. He longs for those who seek Him with a whole heart. He desires humility! With humility we are promised “the good of the Land,” but a stubborn refusal to submit to God’s standard will guarantee “the sword” (1:19-20).

We must ask Christ to be an intricate part of every thought and every action—“Lord is this what I should think, say, do…is this glorifying to your Name…is this what your Word teaches?” We must allow Scripture the influence over our feelings, compassions, and preferences FIRST…and then allow those God-given emotions to be used for His glory!  They were given to us in order to motivate our response not to decide it. Without consideration we would never see a need. Without passion we would never speak out. Without sensitivity we would never work with those who required help.

But misplaced emotions—and the actions that can come from them—may actually hinder the work of the Lord. 

There are women (a few, I might add) who seek abortion out of shame, or fear of getting caught in their sin and are walking toward the clinic wishing for someone to show them a way out.  Their hearts are tender and receptive right away to the truth.  We rejoice when this happens and are so grateful that we were there to reap the harvest.  Oh, that there were counselors on sidewalks at every clinic every single day that one is open for business. 

But mostly we find women seeking abortion because they are skirting responsibility, being pressured by a boyfriend (misplacing the loyalty they should have for their own baby onto a fragile romance), or sadly, too often (married and unmarried), they just do not want to be burdened with a child.  This pregnancy was not planned and allowing it to continue will mess up their comfortable reality or future dreams.  Granted, they have buried their feelings—their natural affection—but buried they have, so deep and for so long, that the truth is now suppressed. "Having the understanding darkened, being alienated from the life of God through the ignorance that is in them, because of the blindness of their heart: Who being past feeling have given themselves over unto lasciviousness, to work all uncleanness with greediness" (Ephesians 4:18-18).  I have been literally amazed with what comes out of the mouths of women.

Our hearts go out in tenderness to even the most hardened of hearts—we desire for them to know God’s incredible mercy.  That mercy comes only through realizing their sin and repenting of it.  Let us never forget that God is the One who brings change and redemption to a heart—even a heart that was closed.  We live in a pagan society, surrounded by people who worship the god of self.  I have yet to have a woman look shocked when I show her a picture of a baby in utero, or not believe me when I tell her that her child’s heart was beating even before she was aware she were pregnant—quite the opposite.  They know!  They call it exactly what it is.  Murder.  They have been indoctrinated through a pagan culture, wicked media, godless schools, lack of parenting, negative peer pressure, and a million other wicked venues!  Our society, on a whole, is believing a lie—and God is giving them over to their own lusts. They are hardened to the point of their own destruction. It is only the true message of the Gospel that will change them.  This religion of self has also crept into our churches as well.  Oh, shame on the church who will not confront sexual sin in its congregation—doing everything it can to keep personal conviction far from those who sit in the pews.  Much of the American church has embraced the throw-away society—it has quit desiring children as God’s reward and loves pleasure over sacrifice. 

Believers are never given licence to be rude, proud, arrogant, condescending, hurtful, or disrespectful no matter how gross the sin they are addressing in another—but even when spoken with ardent love and blessed kindness on the lips, truth will most likely offend.  That is why this ministry is bathed in prayer.  That is why spiritual introspection and personal confession is so vital"I acknowledged my sin unto Thee, and mine iniquity have I not hid. I said, I will confess my transgressions unto the Lord; and thou forgavest the iniquity of my sin" (Psalm 32:5). We "open our mouths" because we are commanded to—we leave the conviction and correction to the Holy Spirit and plead with God in prayer for souls to be saved and babies rescued from death!

My husband and I will go stand at abortion mills and we will plead for the sake of the children who will be murdered that day.  Our hearts will continue to break over the atrocity happening in our own city!  And we will continue declaring the truth of “so great salvation” (Hebrews 2:3)—no matter the cost!