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Previous Message From Virtual Church

Splinter Pickers

Matthew 7 1: "Do not judge, or you too will be judged. 2For in the same way you judge others, you will be judged, and with the measure you use, it will be measured to you.

The other day an email was sent over the internet. The sender did not know the receiver nor did the receiver know the sender. Here is the email.

"Is it not written that "The kingdom of heaven is within you" and "Know ye not that ye are the temple and Jesus Christ is in you, unless you be reprobates".

I'm curious, do you believe the words of Jesus are true? One reason I say this is because I believe God and His word and it is written that many will come in His name and deceive many.
It's also written that you cannot serve two masters. Which one do you serve?

Please respond if you are able

Love

------"

This week’s virtual church message is based upon this email.

All of us have a mountain of work to do on ourselves before we ever get to the point of being judgmental about anyone else. Being judgmental about non-Christians is bad, being judgmental about Christians is even worse.

In this email the receiver was asked two questions.

(1) "I’m curious, do you believe the words of Jesus are true?"
(2) "Which one do you serve?"

First, I want to address the background, the motives, and the underlying thought of the questions.

I have been in the church a long time. My church life began at the age of 3 and I am now 56. Over the years, I have developed special "antennae" that pick up background, motives, and underlying thoughts of questions like these. The questions are confrontational in the context they are asked. The are not confrontational in themselves, but when these questions are asked of fellow Christians, or people seeking Christ’ truth then they are confrontational in the context they are asked. I find not love in these questions although the word "love" was used in the email as a closing word. I find a lot of anger and hostility, and the desire to pick a fight with the receiver. At the very least, I find in these questions the desire to pick a splinter out of the receiver’s eye by someone who does not know the receiver and who has never met the receiver.

As a servant of Christ, I wouldn’t mind someone picking a splinter out of my eye or yours but there would have to be some prerequisites established prior to any action on anyone’s part.

The first prerequisite would have to be that there is an actual splinter in the eye. We may have a virtual church but virtual splinters don’t count. Now in the real, people-type church, there are people, who are splinter pickers. These people find splinters in the eyes of others even when the eye holder doesn’t know there is a splinter in the eye. These splinter pickers are always looking for the fault, the defect, the mishap, the misstep, the minor mistake, and the slipup. When something like this occurs, the splinter picker is the first person to charge up to a fellow Christian. Then, with a pair of big water pump pliers, the poor Christian gets his or her eye gouged out to get at the splinter. These splinter pickers somehow put themselves above others and feel appointed by someone, normally God, to do the gouge work. They are what others call "Holier than thou" since these splinter pickers have appointed themselves, or feel appointed, to be above the rest of us. More often than not, these splinter pickers find splinters that are not really there. The splinter pickers gouge out the eye, they split the church, they make new Christians fall away, and they cause trouble and dissension when there was no trouble and dissension to begin with.

The second prerequisite I would establish before having a splinter taken out of my eye or yours is that I would have to know and you would have to know there really was a splinter in the eye. I used to work outdoors on construction projects. Lots of saw dust, dirt, and other stuff would fill the air. I’ve had splinters or specks in my eye and believe me, when I get a splinter or speck in my eye I know it. Now if I ever had a splinter in my eye and did not know it nothing happened to me because my vision was never impaired, no watery eye, no infection, nothing to report in any way. So if I or you do have a splinter in the eye or someone tells us we have a splinter, I would first require that we would have to be experiencing some kind of discomfort just to be sure there really is a splinter. I would never let a splinter picker take a splinter out of my eye or yours if neither of us was not experiencing some kind of, in this case, spiritual discomfort. What you must be careful about is the splinter picker who tries to make you believe you have a splinter when you do not.

The third prerequisite is that the splinter picker would have to be someone who knows all about my life and yours, my heart to serve my Savior as well as your heart, and in my case has read everything I have written on my web site. If you are to have someone find fault with you they should know all there is to know about you.

The fourth prerequisite would be that the splinter picker would have to be someone who does not want to pick a splinter out of anyone’s eye. This person never looks for the splinters, never is disagreeable, never looking for a fight, and never looking to confront others. This person is a person of Christ-like love, caring, and compassion and who is repelled at the idea of confronting others in a direct and angry way. In addition, this person should not have a log in their own eye. They must have clear spiritual vision.

This email contained questions that I do not believe the writer really wanted the receiver to answer. What the writer wanted was not an answer from the receiver but an excuse to tell, lecture, or preach at the receiver. A number of people ask you questions so they can tell you and do not ask you questions because they really want to know.

Let’s look at the second question first.

"Which one do you serve?"

The verse the email writer is partially citing is the following.

Matthew 6:24 "No one can serve two masters. Either he will hate the one and love the other, or he will be devoted to the one and despise the other. You cannot serve both God and Money. (NIV)

Unfortunately, the asking of this question carries a terrible implication. The implication is that the receiver of the email may not serve Christ but may be only pretending to serve Christ just to make money. The question might also imply the receiver of the email may be serving Satan since the question is pulled out of the context of Matthew 6:24. These kinds of accusations by implication against people, whether the people are Christians or not, are uncalled for. Again, if the question is about whether someone serves chicken or beef there is no problem. But when we ask the question in the context of serving God or money there is a problem if the receiver is a devout member of our faith. In my particular ministry and life, my wife works and I live on disability and make NO money or receive NO income (not that the ministry doesn’t need it because it does). My internet ministry work is all I am able to do because I am disabled. My wife and I even cover the expenses of the ministry. If I serve money rather than God I don’t know it and is done without a sinful motive on my part. I serve my Lord and since I make no money (or receive any either) I serve only Christ. It could be that God has not healed my disability just to make sure I serve Him and Him only.

Now, let’s really take an even closer look at what was said in this email. I love the truth so here goes the truth about what was written.

The writer states…"Is it not written that "The kingdom of heaven is within you" and "Know ye not that ye are the temple and Jesus Christ is in you, unless you be reprobates"."

Strike One: Citations made here are not connected to anything about the receiver. What we find in these citations is that the writer suspects and obliquely accuses the receiver of being a reprobate. A reprobate is a depraved, perverted, corrupt, degenerate, and immoral person. I would love to be humorous about this but I will refrain. Implying someone is a reprobate who you do not know is not a good thing to do. It is not a good way to start any kind of relationship. We are called to treat people with kindness, caring, and compassion and not be judgmental about them even if they are depraved, perverted, corrupt, degenerate, and immoral.

The writer wants to know…"I'm curious, do you believe the words of Jesus are true?"

Strike Two: This question is not a true and genuine seeking of the truth. This is a leading question with hidden statements and questions waiting in the background to be spoken. Again, this question is not being asked to find out the truth from the receiver. This question is deceptive. This question is hiding the intention and desire to tell, preach at, or lecture the receiver, not to seek the truth. This question is not based on honesty.

The writer says…"One reason I say this is because I believe God and His word and it is written that many will come in His name and deceive many."

Strike Three: Bad enough that the word "reprobate" comes into the receiver’s picture but now the word "deceive" comes into the picture as well. Not a good way to start things unless you want to fight, argue, or just do a spiritual punch out on someone you don’t know.

The writer wants to know…"It's also written that you cannot serve two masters. Which one do you serve?"

Strike Four: (O.K., I know you only get three strikes but its spring training and I’ll be generous). Strike four and the writer it out even if it IS spring training. The writer accuses the receiver, by implication or just the asking of the question, that the receiver serves Christ just for the money.

Matthew 7 1: "Do not judge, or you too will be judged. 2For in the same way you judge others, you will be judged, and with the measure you use, it will be measured to you.

3"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? 4How can you say to your brother, `Let me take the speck out of your eye,' when all the time there is a plank in your own eye? 5You hypocrite, first take the plank out of your own eye, and then you will see clearly to remove the speck from your brother's eye. (NIV)

The words of Jesus tell us that before we look at others we should look within ourselves. If we are going to look at someone and judge them, then let us look within ourselves first. Let us put our own house in order first. The way things work in the world and in our Christian faith is that we all build our own house. The house we build will be of poor quality if there is a 2 by 4 in our eye. It is bad if we build a poor house because the house we build affects others. What is even worse is when we have a 2 by 4 stuck in our eye and we try to tell other people how to build their house. A speck, most people can handle on their own anyway. In our Christian walk, our walk starts and finishes with us and Christ, not with us making judgements about others. It is with humility and meekness that we are to reach out to others. When we are humble and meek we want to serve others regardless of their spiritual condition.

May His peace and love be with you this week.

 

  

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Scripture quotations marked (NIV) are taken from the HOLY BIBLE, NEW INTERNATIONAL VERSION®. NIV®. Copyright © 1973, 1978, 1984 by International Bible Society. Used by permission of Zondervan Publishing House. All rights reserved.

Scripture quotations marked (RSV) are taken from the HOLY BIBLE, Revised Standard Version of the Bible, Copyright © 1952 [2nd edition, 1971] by the Division of Christian Education of the National Council of the Churches of Christ in the United States of America. Used by permission. All rights reserved.

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Shepherd's Care Ministries author and webmaster, Rev. Patrick Kelly, is affiliated through ministerial ordination with Church of God Ministries, Anderson IN 46018