Does that include myself?

I’m just not feelin’ it lately.  I don’t know what my problem is.  I have a million ideas for blog posts these days, but I don’t think I could get away with any of them (they are all either preachy or potentially offensive).  I will just share what came up today during my daily Bible reading and hopefully it won’t turn anybody off.

1 Corinthians 5:11–But now I write to you not to associate with anyone who bears the name of [Christian] brother if he is known to be guilty of immorality or greed, or is an idolater [whose soul is devoted to any object that usurps the place of God], or is a person with a foul tongue [railing, abusing, reviling, slandering], or is a drunkard or a swindler or a robber. [No] you must not so much as eat with such a person.

I could get into how these people (those who call themselves Christian, but don’t live it) really anger me, but I’ve done that before.  But instead, I’m going to approach it from a different direction.  You see, I read this list and think, “I might not be guilty of all of these things, but I am guilty of some of them.  Immorality, check.  Greed, check.  Idolatry, check.  Foul tongue, check.  Drunkard, check.  Swindler, check.  Robber, check.  Oh, I guess that’s all of them.  So, should I not eat with myself?”

Okay, admittedly I’m being a little harsh on myself.  At least the last three have not been an issue since I became a Christian.  The truth, though, is that I am still a sinner.  Paul goes on in this passage to say that we shouldn’t judge those outside the church (that is for God to do), but that we should judge those who claim to be Christians and should discipline them accordingly.

How, though, can we do this justly?  Jesus says that whatever measure we use, that is the measure that will be used against us.  What measure could I possibly use to judge other believers that would not make me a hypocrite?  The only just measure is God’s Word.  I cannot judge a person according to the world, nor can I judge them by each other.  The only perfect measure is Jesus Christ; and, let’s face it, next to Him we all fall short.

I feel like whenever I try to do this I am a total hypocrite.  I’m not perfect, so how can I expect anybody else to be?  How can I expect others to uphold God’s perfect standard in their lives when I can’t do so in my own?  Praise God that He died on the cross for me.  Otherwise, I would be headed straight for the lake of fire.

So, I guess there’s the question of the day: How do you live out this verse without seeming like a hypocrite?

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4 Comments (+add yours?)

  1. Don Hartness
    Aug 22, 2011 @ 16:13:43

    Good question.

    I don’t think there are any hard rules, nor do I believe that we should look for any. Each human being and each situation is different. A personal rule of thumb that I have always used is to go that extra mile with that person, and to be forgiving to a fault. However, when you find yourself doing mental gymnastics in your head, rationalizing their behavior in outrageous ways, then it’s time to severe contact. Sometimes, that severing is the wake up call that person needs (which is why Paul also advised that we should welcome a repentant sinner with open arms).

    I think it also depends on what their attitude is to the offense in question. Somebody that is openly doing any of the things mentioned above, while bragging about it, is somebody to be weary of from the beginning. Likewise, if they confess their sins, but eventually demonstrate through their behavior that their confession is just window dressing for an obtuse heart (“gee, my bad, I’ll do better…oops! did it again…), then you should severe that contact as well. They will probably call you a hypocrite anyway, but it will be the pot calling the kettle black.

    But if somebody is obviously trying, then we should take the approach Jesus mentioned, forgiving the other person 77 times a day, if necessary. The love we exhibit might be what they need.

    Reply

  2. Linden Wolfe
    Aug 22, 2011 @ 16:18:49

    I love this! It does include you, me, and everyone I know! I guess we will all be on a forced fast since we can’t eat with ourselves!

    Reply

  3. Anthony Baker
    Aug 22, 2011 @ 17:43:12

    Easy! Never let them know you sin.

    Seriously, as a pastor it is very difficult to even suggest someone is doing something questionable without being accused of preaching or being judgmental. I get so tired of it. I don’t claim to be sinless. I don’t even claim to be innocent of the sins I point out. But I do subject myself to the same Judge.

    This culture has made it so that no one can speak out against any form of unrighteousness without hearing “thou shalt not judge!” Just burns my cookies. Grrrr.

    Reply

  4. Lisha
    Aug 26, 2011 @ 21:14:37

    God’s Word is the standard we are to judge other professing believers by. We are not hypocrites for holding our dear brothers & sisters accountable to the Word of God; we are loving them!

    When you (or I) are in close enough fellowship with someone to notice a sinful habit, we are called to reprove them. Consider Galatians 6:1 Brethren, if a man is overtaken in any trespass, you who are spiritual restore such a one in a spirit of gentleness, considering yourself lest you also be tempted.

    He doesn’t say you who are spiritual and without sin…. We are born of the Spirit, so God calls us in a spirit of gentleness to restore our brethren to Jesus. I think that, when done in gentleness, meekness, and love with the end goal of seeing their relationship to Jesus Christ restored, few believers would call us hypocrites for pointing out a habitual sin. It’s when our motivation is selfish that it is easy for people to decry our attempts.

    I get really flustered when I hear “Christians” bring up the “judge no one!” and “he who is without sin cast the first stone!” arguments when someone brings up a glaring sin problem in their life. We are all sinners. Thus, we all have sin. To deny that is to make God a liar. We need each other to point out the sin in our lives; it’s painful, but going to Hell because we are too proud to deal with our sin is infinitely more so. If someone can’t handle being shown a sin problem in their heart – there is a much deeper issue, and it’s not you being a hypocrite.

    …I feel like that made a lot of sense in my brain, and I hope it makes sense here, too. Thank you for posting this! I’m pretty sure I’ve told you before that reading what you’ve posted is encouraging and edifying, and this was no exception. 🙂

    Reply

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