Sunday, February 06, 2011

No one is a blockhead to God

TODAY'S SPECIAL: Matthew 6:13-24

TO CHEW ON: "And whoever says to his brother, 'Raca!' shall be in danger of the council. But whoever says 'You fool!' shall be in danger of hell fire." Matthew 5:22b

I read this and hear a little voice in my head saying, 'Come on, Jesus, You can't mean this.' For who of us hasn't called someone "Blockhead" or "Stupid" — the modern equivalent of "Raca," or thought, if not spoken the label "Fool" over someone?

A. W. Tozer gives an explanation of this verse in his essay, "On Calling Our Brother a Fool":

"What our Lord is saying here is not that a man will be punished with hell fire for calling another a fool, but that a man who can say 'Thou fool' to a fellow man is revealing a state of heart which will fit him for hell in the end. Not the relatively slight offense of calling a brother a fool, but the serious sin of feeling contempt endangers a man's future...

Contempt for a human being is an affront to God almost as grave as idolatry, for while idolatry is disrespect for God Himself, contempt is disrespect for the being He made in His own image" - Of God and Men, p. 82-83.

Tozer goes on to say how contempt is really a mask for pride. The contemptuous person's high opinion of himself is based not on the fact he is made in God's image but because he fancies himself to have virtues he doesn't have. His error is actually moral as well as intellectual.

Tozer points out how readily contempt flourishes in the realm of religion and church-going. We easily look down on the person who is an outright sinner and readily call fellow Christians, with whom we disagree, fool-equivalent names.

However, that doesn't mean that the Christian closes his eyes to sin. Tozer explains:
"He cannot avoid rendering moral judgment on the deeds of men; and, indeed, he is accountable to do so. 'By their fruits ye shall know them.' 'From such turn away.' But his disapprobation of the evil ways of men must not betray him into contempt for them as human beings. He must reverence the humanity of every man, however degraded, out of appreciation for his divine origin. No one for whom Christ died can be common or worthless" p. 84.

I confess, I have been contemptuous and felt convicted about it. The next time my ugly pride rises as contempt, I will imagine Jesus standing beside me. I will ask, How does He view this person?

I will do a little realistic thinking about myself and my own potential for sin ("There but for the grace of God go I").

And I will remember that Jesus died for us both.

PRAYER: Dear God, please help me to see others and myself through Your eyes. Remind me of the infinite worth of each person. Help me to reflect that regard, not only in my actions and words, but even my thoughts. Amen.

MORE: The Image of God

Have you ever thought about what it means to carry the "Image of God" — that thing which we name as giving humanity its special dignity. I challenged myself to define it when I wrote Bible Drive-Thru (devotions for kids ages 8-12). Here is a link to the meditation with my definition: "Special Creation." Your thoughts?

Bible Drive-Thru

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