Is God Judgmental? (1 of 4)

God judgmental 1

Q. Why is God so judgmental? We’re human beings and prone to error. Why doesn’t He take our human condition into consideration and cut us some slack? He’s so strict, so intolerant!

A. That’s a fair question, but the way some worded it is very biased. Let’s dissect the question to see whether the accusation is valid.

To be judgmental is to have an excessively critical point of view, quick to criticize, to judge harshly. It describes someone who rushes to judgment without reason, because they think they know everything when in fact they don’t. Now, is that true of God?

First, let’s look at “excessive“. Excessive compared to what? Obviously, to the inquirer’s notion of what’s fair and reasonable. But that immediately raises the question, “Is his/her standard fair and reasonable?” Intuitively, the answer is, “It depends.” Depends on what? On which side you’re on. We all tend to think of ourselves as unbiased, but in fact we all have our prejudices. For example, in wage negotiations, management may feel a 2% increase is very reasonable and all they can afford, but labor may feel that does not even keep up with inflation and is unfair. What’s fair to you may not be fair to me. What we need is a standard that is not subjective or relative, but absolutely just. What, or who, is absolutely just? Obviously, it’s not you or I. Even though some may not like it, the answer is God, by definition. Only God is absolutely just, and He sets the standard by which all other standards are measured. Deut 32:4 “The Rock! His work is perfect, For all His ways are just; A God of faithfulness and without injustice, Righteous and upright is He.”

Secondly, let’s examine “know“. We are not in a position to judge because we know so little. Often we see only the tip of the iceberg, but we quickly jump to conclusion based on presuppositions without investigating the evidence. We know little or nothing about the motives, the background, the feelings, the circumstances, but we hastily assume the best or the worst because we are favorably inclined or prejudiced against the individual. Not so with God. Because God is omniscient, He knows all the facts of the case, and there is never any error in judgment. He never renders a hasty judgment and becomes judgmental.

(To be continued)

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Variety of Gifts

Tree house

Tree house

Enjoying cake

Enjoying cake

Partying with friends

Partying with friends

Playing watchmen to sound the alarm when enemy approaches

Playing watchmen to sound the alarm when enemy approaches

Family photo

Family photo

Our son-in-law is very handy. He knows how to repair cars, and fixes many
things around the house. He built the foundation for his tool sheds, and flower beds by splitting logs a foot in diameter. For his children, he designed and built a tree house from scratch, single-handedly, within a couple of weeks. He is good in photography too, and plays drums for the worship team. In short, he is very gifted with his hands.

I have a friend who is very handy too. He is an outdoors man – hunting, archery, fishing, camping, whether in trailers, tents, or even perched up in trees waiting for deer. He renovated his basement by himself, and of course fixes all kinds of furniture and gadgets. He too, is his church’s drummer, and gifted with his hands.

I am the exact opposite. I am happy when I can assemble a BBQ or a desk from components within half a day when others take only a couple of hours. I’m the only one in the family who can’t play any music instruments, and my eye-hand coordination is such that I can’t save myself if my life depended on it! Does that mean I’m useless? Not at all, because there are varieties of gifts:

1 Co 12:4-11 Now there are varieties of gifts, but the same Spirit. And there are varieties of ministries, and the same Lord. There are varieties of effects, but the same God who works all things in all persons. But to each one is given the manifestation of the Spirit for the common good. For to one is given the word of wisdom through the Spirit, and to another the word of knowledge according to the same Spirit; to another faith by the same Spirit, and to another gifts of healing by the one Spirit, and to another the effecting of miracles, and to another prophecy, and to another the distinguishing of spirits, to another various kinds of tongues, and to another the interpretation of tongues. But one and the same Spirit works all these things, distributing to each one individually just as He wills.

Are we different? Yes. Are some unimportant? No! Just as there are many members to the body, and no part can say to another, “I have no need of you”, so no individual member within Christ’s body can live without other members. We need the same care for one another, because if one member suffers, all the members suffer with it. I do wish I am more handy, but I’m glad I can do my part, even in a small way, and contribute to Christ’s body. Thanks and praise be to God.

God’s Work

Spanish 3

Our friends are missionaries to Panama, sent to pastor a Chinese church there. After they’ve been there for a little while, they observed that one ministry essential to the continuance and growth of the church is youth ministry, in Spanish. When the second generation of the church were children, the parents could teach them Sunday school in Chinese. But as the children grew up to be teenagers and develop their independence, Chinese no longer suffice and they began to drop out.

Just as Chinese churches in Canada need English ministry to keep the families together, Chinese churches in Panama need Spanish ministry to survive. It’s not an option up for discussion, but a necessity if they do not want to lose their children. Most of the adults do not have much education and run small businesses such as convenience stores, laundromats, bakeries etc.. They picked up just enough Spanish to make a living, and are inadequate when it comes to reading the Spanish bible, let alone teach it. Without internal resources, the only means is to enlist external help from local Spanish churches.

Previously the church had attempted to get help through joining the local denomination. However, this involved submitting their constitution, bylaws, statement of faith etc. in Spanish, something beyond their capability at that time, so the whole idea was shelved. But with the teens staying away from church, or going to Spanish churches instead, the need becomes more pressing. So our friends investigated possible sources of Spanish help, and began approaching them one by one.

One of the church’s teens left and went to a Spanish Baptist church in the neighborhood. Our friends did not expect them to help, so went to them last. Ironically, this is the church that came to the rescue. The Spanish church had wanted to reach out to the Chinese adults for a long time, but hitherto had been unable to do so because of the language barrier. However, they kept praying about it for 10 years, and God answered both their and our friends’ prayers.

When our friends contacted them to request help, they were delighted to do so. Their dream to reach the Chinese can now be fulfilled, only it was the youth, not adults. Enthusiastically they sent four of their young adults to the Chinese church every week to teach Spanish Sunday school, plus two children’s workers who take turns to come as well. Our friends attend their monthly staff meeting to maintain the relationship and coordinate schedules.

The youth group was keen on reaching their peers, and grew from a handful of teens to as many as 35 people when there are special events, averaging 25 weekly. They have grown to be even bigger than the adult congregation. A good number were willing to do daily devotions, so the growth was not only quantitative, but qualitative as well. Our friends got more than they hoped for, not just Spanish helpers to stop the hemorrhage, but new blood to revitalize the next generation. Truly this is of the Lord. Praise and thanks be to God!

Making Memories

Rather than give our grand-daughter toys for her birthday, we decided to take her to Canada’s Wonderland to make some memories instead. We have not been there in ages, and did not know many of the rides added in recent years. Plus we did not realize how tiring it would be to run after a young child the whole day. But it was a lot of fun for young and old alike, even though there was intermittent rain. Here are some photos:

Thunder Mountain

Thunder Mountain

Carousel

Carousel

Red Baron!

Red Baron!

Space Race

Space Race

Snoopy!

Snoopy!

Train Ride

Train Ride

Flying Swing

Flying Swing

Hot Air Balloon

Hot Air Balloon

Swing Jet

Swing Jet

Bumper Car

Bumper Car

Another Hot Air Balloon

Another Hot Air Balloon

Maze

Maze

Spinning Cup

Spinning Cup

Blast Off

Blast Off

Charlie Brown

Charlie Brown

Goodbye Thunder Mountain!

Goodbye Thunder Mountain!

The Levite’s Concubine (3 of 3)

Levite concubine 1

(Continued from yesterday)

My observation is therefore as follows:

• The men of Gibeah committed gang rape and must be punished. God used Israel as His instrument to execute justice.
• However, Israel was not “a vessel for honor, sanctified, useful to the Master” (2 Tim 2:21), and need to be cleansed.
• God humbled the Israelites twice by giving them defeat. 40,000 (22,000 v 21 plus 18,000 v 25) or one tenth of the 400,000 foot soldiers (v 2) were killed.
Then all the sons of Israel and all the people went up and came to Bethel and wept; thus they remained there before the LORD and fasted that day until evening. And they offered burnt offerings and peace offerings before the LORD. (Judg 20:26) After they repented God delivered the Benjamites into Israel’s hands (Judg 20:28).
• However, the Israelites took matters into their own hands and, even though God never told them to do so, killed 25,100 (v 35, v 46’s 25,000 is round number) of the 26,700 (26,000 Benjamites + 700 from Gibeah v 15) men on that day, leaving only 600 who escaped. By deduction 1,000 were killed on the first two days.
• One error leads to another, leading to the fiasco to provide for the survival of the Benjamites in Judges 21.

Actually there are more problems in the story leading up to the civil war, including:

• The Levite took a concubine for himself (v 1). God’s plan is one husband, one wife.
• The concubine played the harlot (v 2) and should have been stoned (Deut 22:22).
• Homosexuals demanding sex with the Levite (v 22) reminiscent of Genesis 19;
• The owner of the house offering his virgin daughter and the Levite’s concubine to appease the gay attackers (v 24). What father would have done that?
• The selfish Levite bringing his concubine to the men, who gang raped her all night (v 25).
• Committing indignity to a dead body by dismemberment, and sending her body parts to incite war (v 29).

All these were recorded to illustrate what happened when people do not acknowledge God and did what was right in his own eyes. That’s where the focus is, not whether God’s actions were justified. God is just, but men were, and still are, disobedient, causing all the sins and evils. He will return soon to rectify all problems.