A couple of weeks ago we were doing a “Highlight Night” with our youth group. This is a night when we invite our youth to bring their Bibles and we all share scriptures that we have highlighted. Then if that scripture was something we want to highlight, we get a highlighter and highlight it ourselves. We ask them what spoke to them about that particular scripture.
One such passage was James 4:11 (NKJV) Do not speak evil of one another, brethren. He who speaks evil of a brother and judges his brother, speaks evil of the law and judges the law. But if you judge the law, you are not a doer of the law but a judge.
Such a strange scripture for a teenager to have highlighted, right? Our teens are looking at us. I used this opportunity to teach a little. I explained to the teens that the Book of James was a letter written by James to a group of Jewish converts to Christianity. That we can be just like this group if we do not keep our hearts aligned with Philippians 4:8 (AMP) Finally, brethren, whatever things are true, whatever things are noble, whatever things are just, whatever things are lovely, whatever things are of good report, if there is anything praiseworthy – meditate on these things.
I did point out that, yes, we are known by the fruit that we bear. That although we are not of the world, we should not look like the world. I did remind them that the Jesus spoke to us about when we see a fellow Christian sin (Matthew 18:15). All of this is in love. One thing is we have free will.
Can we believe that God still changes hearts? Look at what Paul says in 1 Timothy 1:12-16 (AMP): I thank Christ Jesus our Lord, who has granted me (the needed) strength and made me able for this, because He considered me faithful and trustworthy, putting me into service (for this ministry), even though I was formerly a blasphemer (of the Lord) and a persecutor (of His church) and a shameful and outrageous and violent aggressor (toward believers). Yet I was shown mercy because I acted out of ignorance and unbelief. The grace of our Lord (His amazing, unmerited favor and blessing) flowed out in superabundance (for me, together) with faith and love which are (realized) in Christ Jesus. This is a faithworthy and trustworthy statement, deserving full acceptance and approval, that Christ Jesus came into the world to save sinners, among whom I am foremost. Yet for this reason I found mercy, so that in me as the foremost (of sinners), Jesus Christ might demonstrate His perfect patience as an example or pattern for those who would believe in Him for eternal life.
Can we believe that God still changes hearts?
Why did the verse our youth member strike a chord with me? Maybe they have had an experience like I did. Many years ago I was in an argument with a leader in our church. I forget what it was about, but their response was because I did not agree, and they were above me in leadership, that I was going to hell. Heart check moment! I told them I guess both of us were, since neither of us had worked out this love thing yet.
Let’s look at James 4:11 but in the Passion Translation: Dear friends, as part of God’s family, never speak against another family member, for when you slander a brother or sister you violate God’s law of love. And your duty is not to make yourself a judge of the law of love by saying that it doesn’t apply to you, but your duty is to obey it!
Brothers and sisters in Christ do not have to agree to show love. We violate love when we judge. Remember that tomorrow on election day and every day. I am not anxious about who wins. I have been anxious about how the “church” is going to treat one another. I have seen so many posts from both sides, by supposed followers of Christ, and it breaks my heart. You will be known by the fruit that you bear. Remember that. I care more about the unbeliever watching that my own rights!
Prayer for tomorrow: Father, let us see each other the way you see us. You said that everything is permissible for us, but not everything is for our benefit. It is through your drawing that we are lead to what is for our benefit. Let us be mindful of you tomorrow. Let us be mindful of the sacrifice your Son made. That we have a High Priest is able to sympathize and understand our weakness and our temptations, yet knowing what it is like to be human, did not sin. It is with great confidence that we approach your throne of grace. We have confidence and do not fear of what is to come. You can do the impossible within us! We praise and thank you in Jesus Name, Amen!