If I am to follow God, I must be willing to follow his Spirit into soberly examining my own opinions, subjecting them to honest scrutiny, subduing any affection or loyalty and welcoming their transformation to the perspective and wisdom of Jesus.
There’s a difference between demanding perfection and expecting humility. When I’m under authority or at least leadership, I don’t expect perfect decisions from anyone except Jesus himself. Christians make mistakes, leaders included, because all of us are still in the stream of sanctification and will be for the rest of our earthly days. And that’s really the key. All of us are being transformed in that stream; some close to shore, others near the greatest current, but all suspended and moved along by the flow of Father’s pure grace and power toward increasing glory. (2 Cor. 3:18) We are called to view and treat each other in that light – varied in gifts and maturity, equal in stature and value before God, being daily glorified by his glory.
So what is the implication? None of us ought to subject brothers or sisters to the demand of flawless choices or actions, even when their errors seem to impact our lives negatively, because all is under the expansive sovereignty of God Almighty. The path of grace bears the footprints of Christ for us to follow. I am called to honor my brother and leave room for him to stumble, ready to shoulder his burden for a time, and he is called to do the same for me. But does this grace erase all traces of accountability?
Christians must accept the foundational truth that each of us will be held accountable by the Lord; not for sin, as he has done away with that penalty (Rom. 5:1, 9-10), but for work as his children (1 Pet. 1:17; Rom. 14:11-13; Heb. 4:13). When any of us is tempted to judge another’s sin, we ought to stop talking, start listening, and pray for the Holy Spirit to strengthen our trust in God to be God and to refresh our desire to restore our brother or sister. (Gal. 6:1-2)
This truth applies to the trap of judging sin, whether it be amongst lay people or leaders or one to the other. Jesus has equalized all of us in his family, which means we are not to judge each other’s hearts (Mt. 7:1-5), but don’t interpret that to mean any of us is impervious to examination from others. The fact that I am equal in stature to the brother receiving my spiritual gift or ministering to me leaves no reason but fearful pride for my defensive response to testing. In fact, I ought to invite and welcome my family to question my choices, because I am so fully aware of the flesh I still carry.
Desire to avoid full light is always a sign of poisonous fear lurking in the shadows of my mind. It whispers of malicious motives and sickness in others, distracting me from the reality of my own condition. I must reject that lie and leap into the light! (Jn. 3:20-21)
Defy fear of anything or anyone but God. This is the nature of humility: more than meekness, it is reality-living, daily working against the foreign eddies in the stream that attempt to lure us out of the living water or, more subtly, persuade us to redirect the flow. True Christ-like humility is not afraid of questioning but rather understands that the Holy Spirit moves our whole family, and a brother who is so moved by him to examine my own reasoning is not a threat but a treasure from the Lord. Even if his motive is sinful, the Lord will sovereignly bring him to repentance, and I must be ready with grace and a hand to help him up. In either case, fear and defensiveness have no place, for I myself and God’s work through me will only be strengthened.
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