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Pointers along the way #244

Quick to judge!
- Jacob Ninan

Paul said, "I have fought the good fight, I have finished the course, I have kept the faith; in the future there is laid up for me the crown of righteousness, which the Lord, the righteous Judge, will award to me on that day" (2Ti.4:7,8). I would say, "I stand just because of the mercy and patience of God. I could have perished except that Jesus lifted me up again and again." I think more Christians would identify themselves with me rather than with what Paul said. But isn't that because we have just taken a portion of what Paul has said about himself, out of its context, and we are ignoring so many other things he has said about himself? Paul said also that he was the chief of sinners (1Ti.1:15), the least of the saints (Ep.3:8) and that he didn't deserve to be an apostle because he had been a blasphemer and persecutor (1Co.15:9). But when we come across his words about how he fought the good fight, finished the course, etc., we conclude that he is boasting, and start picking up stones.

I have had the experience with my articles where I start with the position or ideas that some others hold and go on to argue against them, I get comments from people who criticise me for holding those 'other' views and others who go to lengths to explain to me how I am wrong about those views! It is obvious that they have jumped their guns and have not read my full article. I am not writing this now to get back at them (!) but to illustrate the tendency we have to jump to conclusions.

The more we know a person, the less we make this mistake, showing that we tend to make this mistake more with people we don't know! We also make the mistake with our close friends when they come up with some newfangled ideas (as we consider them). When we hear a new preacher or read a new author we can jump to conclusions before he has had the opportunity to develop his ideas.

When it comes to doctrines we have a whole set of issues about which we fight tooth and nail with others. Do we realise that some of the ideas that we hold could be wrong? Our doctrinal background in which we grew up and the terrains we have traversed during our spiritual journey have a lot to do with our doctrinal positions! Some of our strong opinions are there because we have not even examined the opposing views. Even our temperamental slant plays some role in deciding which camp we follow! (An extrovert finds it easier to raise hands and dance in worship!)

Of course there are fundamental truths we will not debate on. But aren't there issues on which we can agree to hold different views and still continue in fellowship? What is required is not compromise but maturity. Someone has said that it is the immature person who finds it difficult to bear with the imperfections in others. Think of God how He not only bears with all of us with so many different sets of imperfections but actually loves us! He values us. Now we can understand why He is slow to judge (Ex.34:6).