Wednesday, March 26th, 2014
Twelve Steps To Heaven (Part 7)
Step #7: Despise Evil
Lord, who may abide in Your Tabernacle?
Who may dwell in Your Holy Hill?
He who walks uprightly,
And works righteousness,
And speaks the truth in his heart;
He who does not backbite with his tongue,
Nor does evil to his neighbor,
Nor does he take up a reproach against his friend;
In whose eyes a vile person is despised...
Psalm 15:1-4 (NKJV)
Political correctness dominates America. Our leaders are extremely 'careful not to... offend or upset a particular group of people' (Merriam-Webster Dictionary)--even if they are vile, as in 'abominably wicked, shameful or evil' (World English Dictionary).
We are reluctant to call evil 'evil.' Usually, we call it nothing at all--or worse, we call it good: 'Woe to those who call evil good.' (Isaiah 5:20). Like cheering for Mad Men, Criminal Minds, Vampire Diaries, American Idols or Pretty Little Liars.
In our churches, do we despise the corruption around us, but cuddle the corruption within us--if it leads to an increasing congregation? But in what are we increasing? Fat or faith? Wealth or wisdom? Self-aggrandizement or self-denial? Golden crosses on our necks or duty crosses on our backs?
In our refusal to call evil 'evil' within the church, are we refusing to follow the example of Jesus--that we 'Should follow in His steps' (1 Peter 2:21)?
Because He despised the vile people working in the House of the Lord. 'Woe to you, scribes and Pharisees, hypocrites! For you devour widows’ houses, and for a pretense make long prayers.... you travel land and sea to win one proselyte, and when he is won, you make him twice as much a son of hell as yourselves' (Matthew 23:14-15).
If you think His public condemnation of evil people applied only to the Jewish leaders of His day, re-read His letters to the seven Christian churches in Revelation.* Jesus is clear: we must despise vile people in our churches today. If we don't, evil grows into a dressed-up, sweet-talking monster.**
Actors, models and talent for Christ, understand the difference: to those on the outside, we are sweet-talking ministers appointed to carry love and good news. But to those on the inside, the ones who claim to know better but don't act like it, we are carriers of truth--in whose eyes a vile person is despised.
To Be Continued...
* Letters to the Seven Churches in Scripture: http://www.biblegateway.com/passage/?search=Revelation+2-3&version=NKJV
* 'Which Church Are You?' AMTC Devotion series (10 parts): Part 1: http://www.amtcdevotions.com/which-church-are-you-part-1
** Also, in 1 Corinthians 5, Paul prescribes a harsh judgment for a church member found guilty of a particular form of immorality: 'Deliver such a one to Satan for the destruction of the flesh, that his spirit may be saved in the day of the Lord Jesus' (1 Corinthians 5:5). His sentence seems harsh, but consider why it is harsh and why it could bring to him and them the best possible blessing.
Jesus basically says the same thing in The Parable of the Unforgiving Servant. In this case, the servant needed to learn the lesson of forgiveness. But in either case, the punishment for evil (as in the exposure of evil and its removal from a congregation) serves a higher purpose--both for the vile person and for the congregation. http://www.biblegateway.com/passage/?search=Matthew+18%3A21-36&version=NKJV
P.S. To read the other devotions in this series, please see the Twelve Steps To Heaven series.