OPPOSING ONESELF (Part 5)
2Ti 2:24-25 (24) And the servant of the Lord must not strive; but be gentle unto all men, apt to teach, patient, (25) In meekness instructing those that oppose themselves; if God peradventure will give them repentance to the acknowledging of the truth; The nature of the previous meditations in this series has been somewhat critical---critical of doctrinal self-contradiction and doublemindedness. In a generation of effeminate Christianity that has sold its birthright of knowledge and duty for a mess of emotional pottage, calling saints' attentions to the obvious is generally viewed as being uncharitable, harsh or judgmental. And this reveals one of the most common examples of opposing oneself. The new kinder, gentler Christianity which seems willing to tolerate all views (except one that exposes its folly) is usually quick to respond to criticism by defaulting to something like, "But Jesus said, 'Judge not...' " And so the new kinder, gentler Christianity's way of discouraging criticism is by being critical of those who criticize. What? This is all very confusing, and remember, "God is not the author of confusion" (1Co 14:33). As I write this meditation, I am lying in a hospital bed with a spine injury. But at least my body has a spine, something which spiritually is conspicuously absent in many churches (which are bodies, 1Co 12:27). Jellyfish are spineless too, and beautiful, but are also quite transparent and deceptively dangerous. Yes, Jesus in Mat 7:1 did say, "Judge not." But that is only part of the verse and its context. The noble reader will see that the Lord Jesus Christ was not there forbidding all judgment or else He would be condemning himself for sitting in judgment on the act of judging. Given that He expressly came for judgment (Joh 9:39), having all judgment committed unto Him by the Father (Joh 5:22) and that He is coming to judge this world in righteousness (Acts 17:31), He would be quite handcuffed if it is always wrong to judge. If an unqualified censure of judging was what Christ intended by instructing disciples to "Judge not...," would they not be thus required to make a value assessment of their own conduct, to wit, judge themselves as being in error if they exercised judgment? I judge the position that Jesus forbids all judgment as being judgmental (and a silly logical quagmire). The context of "Judge not...," (Mat 7:1-5) plainly is not forbidding all judgment but rather a specific kind: hypocritical judgment---judging another for what one allows in oneself or judging another for some error of a far less magnitude than what one is guilty of himself (straining at a gnat while swallowing a camel, Mat 23:24). Note that Jesus did not forbid the casting of the mote out of the brother's eye entirely but rather exhorts the judger to first take care of casting the beam out of his own eye (Mat 7:3-5). Saints are called to judgment and God is displeased when He sees it not (Isa 59:15). The spiritual man is not a non-critical marshmallow. "But he that is spiritual JUDGETH all things, yet he himself is judged of no man" (1Co 2:15), for when one is walking in the spirit there is no law against him (Gal 5:18; Gal 5:22-23) and "where no law is, there is no transgression" (Rom 4:15)---no judgment can rightly be brought against him. Paul chided the Corinthians for not exercising judgment amongst themselves on the basis of the fact that saints shall judge angels and the world (1Co 6:1-5), a curious argument if saints are never to judge. It is the solemn duty of saints to "not hate thy brother in thine heart: thou shalt in any wise rebuke thy neighbour, and not suffer sin upon him" (Lev 19:17), to "exhort one another" (Heb 3:13), "admonish one another" (Rom 15:14), to "warn them that are unruly" (1Th 5:14), to convert an erring brother (Jam 5:19-20), etc. All of this would be impossible if being critical or judgmental were always wrong. David said, "Let the righteous smite me; it shall be a kindness..." (Psa 141:5). Solomon said, "Open rebuke is better than secret love" (Pro 27:5). Where some might say, "But you'll catch more flies with honey than with vinegar," I respond, "If it's flies you're after, any farmer can tell you that honey isn't the only thing that draws flies." Admittedly, saints are not justified in adopting a condescending, arrogant or "holier than thou" attitude towards those who oppose themselves, per our text of 2Ti.2:24-25. But Biblical meekness (our text) is not whimsical weakness. Biblical meekness is submission to authority's lordship (see 1Pe 3:4-6) and our Authority would have us to not shrivel from correcting one another, "considering thyself, lest thou also be tempted" (Gal 6:1). "Seek ye the LORD, all ye meek of the earth, which have wrought his judgment..." (Zep 2:3). Paul's way of in meekness instructing those who opposed themselves in Acts 18:6 was to bluntly put them in their place, a model to be considered in similar circumstances. When it comes to Christian experience and duty, candor is better than candy. Real charity rejoices not in iniquity but in the truth (1Co 13:6).