by Cynthia L. Simmons @CynthiaLSimmons
I didn’t want the pastor to see my face while he preached, so I positioned myself behind someone to block his view. But even without seeing his face, I still felt betrayed. I’d always believed God ordained preachers and guided the things they said. In this situation, the pastor failed.
Every Sunday, while taking sermon notes in the church bulletin, I’d usually write across the top of the page, “It’s the Lord Christ whom you serve.”
In that terrible moment, I looked at those words to remind myself of my motives in service and knew they were the truth. I wanted to please God, yet the minister was not only publicly condemning my actions but my thoughts and motives as well.
In that church, my husband and I taught Sunday school with all our hearts, and on occasion, my husband filled the pulpit. God was using us to touch hearts. Apparently, that threatened the minister. Perhaps if we took out the trash and changed diapers in the nursery, he might not think we were after his job? He accused us of arrogance and said we thought awful things about him while he preached, like he could read our minds.
The first time I heard those accusations, I cried all night.
Was he in the right to be judging us? After all, Luke 6:37 says “Judge not, that you not be judged.” However, at times God does tell us to judge. Paul’s first letter to the believers at Corinth was written in part to address sin that was going unchallenged in that church. A man committed adultery with his father’s wife, and the church ignored it. In arrogance, rather than mourning the sin, they refused to address it.
Paul unequivocally identified the man’s behavior as sin and told the church to do the same. He was to be put out of fellowship until a time when he humbled himself before God. If someone violates Scripture, you can call it sin because God already did. Paul knew it would have been damaging to both the man, his mistress, and the entire church body to allow him to continue. By doing so, they were actually enabling it.
However, trying to discern motives and thoughts is a lot trickier. Paul didn’t accuse the man of a motive (like saying he committed adultery in order to disgrace his father)—he knew only God can know the heart. In fact, in chapter four of the same book, Paul had warned the Corinthians: “…do not go on passing judgement before the time and wait until the Lord comes who will both bring to light the things hidden in darkness and disclose the motives of men’s hearts…” (1 Corinthians 4:5 NASB). That last phrase makes a big difference. Only God knows our thoughts and motives and can judge whether they are evil or good
We decided to respond to the accusations by humbling ourselves before the Lord. We confessed everything we could think of that might have caused offense, including any secret pride. A passage in Hebrews brought us great comfort, “Let us therefore draw near with confidence to the throne of grace that we may receive mercy and find grace to help in time of need” (Hebrews 4:16 NASB). For whatever we may have contributed to the situation, we placed our confidence in the mercy and grace of God.
Why could we be so confident? Because of what the verse proceeding Hebrews 4:16 said. “We do not have a high priest who cannot sympathize with our weaknesses, but One who has been tempted in all things as we are, yet without sin” (Hebrews 4:15 NASB). There is nothing we can go through that Jesus has not experienced Himself. He was falsely accused and convicted of a sin He never committed: insurrection of the Roman Empire. It was all a big lie, styled to give the Romans a reason to crucify Him. What was the religious leaders’ motive? “If we let Him go on like this, all men will believe in Him, and the Romans will come and take away both our place and our nation” (John 11:48 NASB). Pride led to false accusation. Jesus has been there.
In our greatest heartaches, He has already traveled down that road. He can sympathize with us like no other. We can trust Him to deal justly with false accusation in the end. He will always stand for truth.
About the author: Former home school mother of five, Cynthia has a special spot in her heart for young moms and loves to encourage all women to pursue God. She hosts Heart of the Matter Radio, and writes inspirational fiction and non-fiction. Find her at www.clsimmons.com.
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