THE HEAT IN THE KITCHEN
by David Sisler
Last week I wrote about three men – Jerome Bettis, an unidentified AIDS-spreader, and Michael Schiavo – under the general theme of unselfishness and selfishness. The Spreader and Mr. Schiavo being text book cases of “Me First.”
The mail was generally favorable, with the unfavorable comments challenging me for pointing a finger, calling attention to S & S’s sins.
Pete said, “I leave the article with a sick feeling in my stomach. Sure I wish that ‘sicko’ wasn't spreading AIDS everywhere and I definitely don’t agree with his choices. And I am disappointed that Schiavo has moved on with another woman with to whom he is not married.
“But do you think it is our place as Christians to sit in our comfy offices and point the finger and call names at the ‘sinners’ of our day? If I was a non-Christian reading your article, it would only fuel my dislike for the hypocrisy and judgmental attitudes of Christians.”
Jack wrote, “I do not agree with the public condemnation of a named individual. I can’t help but remember when the Pharisees brought the woman taken in adultery to Jesus. God said he is Judge, we are not. We are to follow his Son by example and his teachings, i.e., go about the business of trying to help bring others into the fold.”
A reader who wishes to remain anonymous said, “If I can remember correctly, Ephesians 4:29 commands us not to let any unwholesome talk come out of our mouth, but that we should use our words to build others up. Now I am not a huge fan of homosexuals or Michael Schiavo, but I don’t believe that [you] did either one of them justice from a Christian point of view. I question whether or not [you] said it out of love.”
Maybe President Harry S. Truman got it from William Shakespeare. Mr. Truman said, “If you can’t stand the heat, get out of the kitchen.” The Bard advised, “Heat not a furnace for your foe so hot that it do singe yourself” (King Henry VIII, Act 1, Scene 1).
When you write for publication and sign your name, you write from the kitchen. The only person who liked everything I have written was my Dad (and I can’t vouch for him after 1996 because that is when he went home to be with the Lord). So criticism is to be expected. Shoot, it’s great to know people read this stuff!
I do bristle, however, when people refer to the “hypocrisy” of Christians, as if politically incorrect behavior is hypocrisy, and as if we were the only people who show two faces.
I write frequently about sports. One only has to look at my favorite – professional baseball – to see hypocrites by the thousands and tens of thousands: owners who cry about steroids and continue to take in the millions of dollars that their pumped up players produce at the turnstiles; fans who cheer every juiced home run; and the players themselves who deny it or say they didn’t know what was in that cream, and use it anyway.
There is a sad attitude in our world today which says our individual sins should not be pointed out and that we should therefore not be held accountable. If Jesus had followed that pattern, the four Gospels would be reduced in size to a few interesting homiletics. When he called the Pharisees “empty tombs,” “snakes,” and “hypocrites,” and said that they were stealing from widows, he was certainly being judgmental! Check it out in Luke 11:42-44; 20:46-47.
It is time and past time, for Christians to hold up the standard of righteousness and call evil what it is.
Driving home to Augusta one day from Atlanta, I swerved to the shoulder of Interstate 20 to avoid two young men who hurtled past me in their car. Both were waving beer bottles at me and every other driver on the road.
In a very judgmental fashion, I determined they were drunk. I immediately dialed 911 on my cell phone and reported them.
A Georgia State Patrolman was in the right place at the right time and within minutes they were pulled over and were in handcuffs. If I had not acted with judgment, they could have killed innocent motorists. Maybe they would not have killed anyone that time, but to permit such behavior is to say that it is acceptable, and the next drunk driver may indeed commit vehicular homicide.
To ignore sin and not call it what it is, is just as careless, and just as deadly.
Several writers referred to Luke 6:37 (and Matthew 7:1-5) where Jesus said, “Judge not, and you shall not be judged.” Those verses were offered as proof that I should not have pointed out Michael Schiavo’s desertion of his wife and his adultery, and should not have criticized his lifestyle.
Jesus said that we are not to judge another person harshly and at the same time ignore the beam in our own eye. That would be callous hypocrisy.
Or to say it another way, “Don’t hide behind your own sin while you are pointing out someone else’s.”
But in many places the New Testament tells us to examine the lives of the people we come in contact with, and to not have dealings with certain types of people. In order to discern who those people are, do we not have to “judge” what we see?
Jesus said, “A good tree does not bear bad fruit, nor does a bad tree bear good fruit. For every tree is known by its own fruit. For men do not gather figs from thorns, nor do they gather grapes from a bramble bush. A good man out of the good treasure of his heart brings forth good; and an evil man out of the evil treasure of his heart brings forth evil (Luke 6:43-45).” He clearly indicated that we must regard certain individuals as hypocrites.
In John 7:24 Jesus said, “ Do not judge according to appearance, but judge with righteous judgment.”
Many more verses make it clear that forming an opinion about a person and expressing it is proper.
Paul advised Titus, “Reject a divisive man” (Titus 3:10).
John said, “Beloved do not believe every spirit, but test the spirits” (1 John 4:1), and, “If anyone comes to you and does not bring this doctrine [of Christ], do not receive him into your house nor greet him” (2 John 10).
Neither of those three verses can be obeyed without expressing judgment. It is a judgment which recognizes the fruit produced. It is not, however, a judgment which pronounces sentence. That judgment remains forever in the hands of the Lord God Almighty.
William Hendriksen correctly writes, “There is nothing in the teaching either of Christ himself, or of the apostles, that relieves us of the obligation to form opinions about people, and to act upon the basis of these opinions; this also implies that at times it will be our duty to express our judgments.”
Jesus frequently called sinners what they were – sinners. If we as his followers do not condemn sinful lifestyles, we are supporting those lifestyles. We can, like Jesus, look at the woman caught in the act of adultery, and with empty-hands, say, “Go and sin no more.” Never forget that when he told her to stop sinning, Jesus declared that she was a sinner. Otherwise Jesus would have been complicate in her adultery.
This politically correct world would hush Jesus if it could. Come to think of it, if it hushes us, it has hushed him.
So, until next time, the heat is on.
Copyright 2005 by David Sisler. All Rights Reserved.
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