Judges, Grudges and Smudges – A Merrier Christmas for the Church

pigs-with-purpose

I read that headline and thought… “Wow Shari, that ain’t very Christmassy!” And it’s not, but it is real. And I like being real so long as it doesn’t take me to a dark place that leaves me and everyone else feeling worse than when we began. I love encouraging people. But I also feel that there are times when we need to take a look within and ‘clean the house before company comes,’ just like we do during the Holidays.

Holidays are a time that many families put aside petty differences for the sake of the season and bury the hatchet in the holiday ham rather than their brother in law’s head. But what about the church? Believe me when I tell you that I had to do a little holiday cleaning there myself this week. So it brought me to this blog to perhaps help myself and hopefully a few others understanding the spiritual impact of judges, grudges and smudges in the church.

These three culprits undermine the work of the Lord every day in churches across the land.

The Judges

Romans 14:10-13

But why dost thou judge thy brother? or why dost thou set at nought thy brother? for we shall all stand before the judgment seat of Christ. For it is written, As I live, saith the Lord, every knee shall bow to me, and every tongue shall confess to God. So then every one of us shall give account of himself to God. Let us not therefore judge one another any more: but judge this rather, that no man put a stumblingblock or an occasion to fall in his brother’s way.

Judging is so easy and it sneaks up on you before you even know it!

  • Did you see what she wore…
  • Did you hear they said…
  • Do you know what they did…

I wonder if you didn’t have an image of someone’s face run through your mind as you read the bullet points. I did. Doggone it, why is that? Because we’re human and the flesh will rise again and again. But it’s our job to put it back in it’s place. And that place is yielded to the Holy Spirit. The scriptures says that we’re to give an “account of himself to God.” Not tattle to God and every one else in the congregation about what little sister seatsaver did that you thought was offensive. What is it that you’ve done that you need the mercy of God for.

The Grudges

Romans 14:14-18

I know, and am persuaded by the Lord Jesus, that there is nothing unclean of itself: but to him that esteemeth any thing to be unclean, to him it is unclean.  But if thy brother be grieved with thy meat, now walkest thou not charitably. Destroy not him with thy meat, for whom Christ died. Let not then your good be evil spoken of: For the kingdom of God is not meat and drink; but righteousness, and peace, and joy in the Holy Ghost. For he that in these things serveth Christ is acceptable to God, and approved of men.

So what if they eat pork. That comment goes a lot deeper. It says so what if they’re opinion differs from yours. So they didn’t vote like you do. Dress like you do. Eat like you do. If you’re vocal about your Christianity then you better know what the word says about it. God had said that eating the meats that had once been forbidden for the Jews was now okay. But some couldn’t get past the traditions of the law. And Paul said if it causes them to stumble and have evil thoughts, I just won’t eat it in front of them. Better that than cause an argument. For me this brought to mind a political ideal that when it comes to Christmas dinner, it might be better just to eat the fish than cause someone to eat crow. Leave the election out of holiday conversation.

The Smudges

Romans 19-23

Let us therefore follow after the things which make for peace, and things wherewith one may edify another. For meat destroy not the work of God. All things indeed are pure; but it is evil for that man who eateth with offence. It is good neither to eat flesh, nor to drink wine, nor any thing whereby thy brother stumbleth, or is offended, or is made weak.  Hast thou faith? have it to thyself before God. Happy is he that condemneth not himself in that thing which he alloweth. And he that doubteth is damned if he eat, because he eateth not of faith: for whatsoever is not of faith is sin.

Paul’s asking the Romans. Are you a Christian only before God, and not before others? If in tearing someone apart for what they believe in you destroy your relationship with them and your impact for Christ, what have you gotten accomplished for the good of the Kingdom? Everyone sins. Everyone has need of mercy and grace. It shouldn’t just be at Christmas but it sure wouldn’t hurt to keep that in mind at Christmas dinners.