Monday, August 8, 2011

No Respecter of Persons.

Did anyone notice the quiet theme of the lesson “God Is No Respecter of Persons”? Maybe it was just me.

That Sunday morning I woke with music and lyrics rolling through my brain of a song my mind created. It was about speaking edifying words so, when studying the lesson later that morning (yes, I always read the Sunday School lesson every Sunday morning), the scripture that jumped out at me was Acts 10:28. That’s where Peter says, “God hath shewed me that I should not call any man common or unclean.” (I also saw similar admonitions in Acts 10:15 and Acts 11:9.)

But the thought that kept rolling around in my mind was this…we should not call anyone common or unclean (a sinner). That is not for us to judge. We should not speak poorly of our spouses, our children, neighbors or strangers. We should not think they are just ‘average’ or common creatures but the best jewel the Lord could offer us.

“Or what man is there of you, whom if his son ask bread, will he give him a stone? Or if he ask a fish, will he give him a serpent? If ye then, being evil, know how to give good gifts unto your children, how much more shall your Father which is in heaven give good things to them that ask him?” (Matt. 7:9-11)

So God didn’t send us serpents for children, or stones (or even couch potatoes) for spouses. He sent us jewels! The best He had. We just have to believe that and not refer to those around us as average, below average or, worse, sinners and unclean. We have to see the good in them. God does.

But how far does this admonition go to not call any man common or unclean?

Check out Jude 1:9. It’s one of my favorite scriptures in the Bible and very few people even know it’s there. “Yet Michael the archangel when contending with the devil…durst not bring against him a railing accusation, but said, The Lord rebuke thee.”

Wow! Here is Michael going the rounds with the devil but he so completely understood the importance of speaking edifying, kind words that he refused to bring a “railing accusation” against the devil. Rather, he left that judgment up to the Lord.

Now, that doesn’t mean we should hold hands with the devil. We do need to make personal judgments to avoid evil in our lives and to keep the commandments. We also need to teach, and reteach, correct principles to those in our charge; but we are not to do so with railing, negative words or pronouncements.

“Judge not, that ye be not judged. For with what judgment we judge, ye shall be judged: and with what measure ye mete, it shall be measured to you again.” (Matt. 7:2)

If you want kindness in the Day of Judgement, give it now...including to yourself! Don't bring railing, negative accusations against yourself for unclean things you have done. Don't think yourself common.

In that Sunday School lesson, the Gentiles received the gospel blessings when Peter was shown that powerful vision by the Lord. In that same lesson we learn the Jews lost blessings because they were too quick to judge themselves.

“Then Paul and Barnabas waxed bold, and said, It was necessary that the word of God should first have been spoken to you; but seeing ye put it from you, and judge yourselves unworthy of everlasting life, lo, we turn to the Gentiles.” (Acts 13:46)

Edifying words and judgements bring blessings. Harsh words and judgements--even to ourselves--can cause us to lose blessings.

Do you remember what the Lord told the children of Israel after their acts of wickedness and rejection of the Lord caused them to be carried away into Babylonian captivity? “I will visit you, and perform my good word toward you, in causing you to return to this place. For I know the thoughts that I think toward you, saith the Lord, thoughts of peace, and not of evil, to give you an expected end.” (Jer. 29:11)

To the Lord, we are not common. We are His children, sons and daughters of God. He is no respeter of persons; He is a respecter of potential. It doesn’t get any better than that.