Guest Author - Dountonia S. Slack
Let’s face it, all of us have “sinned and fallen short of the glory of God” (Romans 3:23). I have never met a perfect Christian nor am I a perfect Christian. However, I thank God for those Christians who have made mistakes and are secure enough in who they are and whose they are to be able to be transparent and allow God to use the mistake for the good of the Christian but for His glory (Romans 8:28).
When we live our lives in a half-committed relationship to Christ – going to church but not studying in private, too busy to see the needs of others, saying ‘I love you’ and not showing love, waiting to be entertained instead of worshiping, pursuing the pleasures of this world instead of souls – we leave ourselves open to false teachings. Teachings under the guise of Christianity but leave Christ out. Teachings that appeal to selfish desires, egos, and need to remain a victim waiting for what is “owed to us” as a result of the victimization. Teachings that are self-serving manipulations of Scripture and not serving others spiritually.
Matthew 7:15-20 warns us to "Be wary of false preachers who smile a lot, dripping with practiced sincerity. Chances are they are out to rip you off some way or other. Don't be impressed with charisma; look for character. Who preachers are is the main thing, not what they say. A genuine leader will never exploit your emotions or your pocketbook. These diseased trees with their bad apples are going to be chopped down and burned” (MSG).
One problem with half-committed Christians is we rely so much on what the preacher says instead of judging/testing/comparing/proving what is said to the Word of God. “Don't suppress the Spirit, and don't stifle those who have a word from the Master. On the other hand, don't be gullible. Check out everything, and keep only what's good. Throw out anything tainted with evil” (1 Thessalonians 5:19-22 MSG). Anything not of God is evil.
But, how can we determine what is not of God if we do not make a judgment? According to the online dictionary Webster.com, to judge is “to form an opinion about [something] through careful weighing of evidence and testing of premises”. For Christians, the premise we weigh evidence against is the Bible. But, “many Christians are hesitant about proving or testing things as they tend to categorize this right along with ‘judging’, and they have been taught they are not to judge” (Prove All Things by Betty Miller). We look at “judge not, that ye be not judged” stopping at the first verse. However when we continue to read verses 2-5 of Matthew 7, we learn how we are to judge. “Our judgment should be merciful. The judgment we judge others with will be the same way we shall be judged” (Prove All Things by Betty Miller).
I have a sincere desire to grow and be used by and for God. I want to be corrected when I misbehave/misrepresent/misinterpret/misuse God’s Word. With love and mercy, it helps me to be a better instrument of God and forces me into deeper study and prayer. I pray that all of us know and live by the Word of God so we can identify what is not the Word of God.
"Knowing the correct password—saying 'Master, Master,' for instance— isn't going to get you anywhere with me. What is required is serious obedience—doing what my Father wills. I can see it now—at the Final Judgment thousands strutting up to me and saying, 'Master, we preached the Message, we bashed the demons, our God-sponsored projects had everyone talking.' And do you know what I am going to say? 'You missed the boat. All you did was use me to make yourselves important. You don't impress me one bit. You're out of here'” (Matthew 7:21-23 MSG).