Saturday, 07 January 2012
See Matthew 7:1-5 & 1 John 2:1-14
Note: This is written to no particular person or people. These are words to process and for yourself to consider if they reflect a need for you to change your heart. There's no need to take this as a personal or even a general criticism. It is not a criticism of any sort. It's just something to keep in mind.
It is not up us (Christians) to say who is or is not a Christian -- who is or is not going to Heaven or Hell -- no more than we can tell a tree what fruit it ought to bear.
But we can judge (reasonably) if one is a Christian by the fruit of his heart; his likeness to Christ. Just as we can tell an apple tree from an orange tree by their fruit. Do the qualities which define a Christ-follower show evidently in the character and actions of the person? If you were to examine his soul, would his spiritual DNA testify that it was truly Jesus who lived in him? If you cut open an apple, shouldn't you find apple seeds? You should certainly find seeds at all.
And is the Christian young in spirit? Is he recovering from a broken heart now made new? A young sapling may not yet bear any resemblance or show any evidence -- that is, fruit -- that it is, indeed, the sort of tree it will mature into. Even full-grown trees can become sick, too, and must be cared for, nurtured back to health. It's fruit may taste sour or bitter and not seem like it ought to be. But it is no less a fruit tree.
We may be deceived by some would-be Christians. We may falsely judge a new Christian who has not yet matured as pagan. We, ourselves, may not even know what all a Christian ought to be, or we may know and yet fail to apply love, compassion, patience and understanding.
Jesus knows who are His as a shepherd knows his sheep. Listen to the Shepherd, and let Him worry about who may enter the Heavenly Pasture. Simply continue to encourage and serve the Flock as you have been called to do, and "baa" with the same grace which God gave you towards those who wander close to the teeth of the wolves.
Discern wisely so you are in the company of fellow Christians and not led away by false believers, and then leave the Final Judgment to the Lord.
Have you ever experienced the judgment of others because of a lack of fruit? When have you judged someone as being non-Christian when they were in fact Christian? What can we learn from our experiences with judging that can help us discern wisely our Christian company?