What did I do!?
We don’t know what we don’t know……..but is that really an excuse? Can we claim cluelessness, or worse denial, thinking we can get away with our chosen actions/words?
Jesus says otherwise.
Coming back after my month long break in July, I found myself hungry for the Gospels again. I had been reading Psalms in the Message translation during my rest from writing but I noticed an eagerness to get back to the mind of Christ, looking specifically at His perspective and carefully examining His words.
He doesn’t mince words that’s for sure. As soon as I start back into my chronological Bible, I notice His boldness, His explicit truths that confront people right where they are.
What was the charge?
I am shocked on one hand at the audience and timing. He doesn’t tippy-toe around people who are easily offended, even when they have cultural/religious authority. In this passage of Matthew 12:22-37 MSG , Jesus has healed a demon-possessed man that was blind and mute. After the healing, when the man was able to see and talk, the people were astonished. They began to ask if Jesus was the Son of David (referencing the Messiah they knew was supposed to come).
But the Pharisees CHOSE to respond differently to the miracle displayed plainly for all to see. Since they couldn’t doubt the authenticity of the miracle itself, they threw doubt toward the miracle-maker. They accused Jesus of performing the miracle not by the power of God but through evil trickery. So their explanation was that Jesus was evil, using the power of one demon to cast out another demon.
How did Jesus respond to their illogical argument?
Jesus confronted their “ignorance”, or better yet, their chosen falsehood. He explained that it was illogical to assume that satan would drive out satan, nor would a judge give opposite verdicts on the same person, because he would only be canceling himself out.
Boldly, Christ then took their charge against Him and turned it right back on them. If it logically could not be satan’s power that the demons were driven out, then it had to have been through God’s power, which meant the kingdom of God was at hand and standing right before their eyes!
What was revealed?
Just as we do with our stubborn, foolish toddlers at times, He tried to make it as black and white as He could in His explanation of the situation and their choice of response. But what had made the Pharisees refuse the obvious truth that most others readily agreed with? What had blinded them into foolishness? Obstinate rebellion?
They had a personal agenda to pursue at all costs. So much so, that they were willing to promote ignorant arguments rather than admit to the obvious fact.
They lacked a simple behavior that could have kept them from making public fools of themselves, not to mention jeopardizing their faith. They refused to self-examine.
Why would they refuse to self-examine?
Jesus was drawing a line in the sand. Either they were with Him, or against Him. There was no neutral ground in the kingdom arena. Sides were determined by choices.
The reason they were unwilling to self-examine, unwilling to agree to the truth plainly seen by all, was that their personal position was more important. People who do not self-examine their viewpoints are unwilling to consider being wrong…….they have too much to lose and not enough to fear. The lack of self-examination testifies to their lack of fear for God.People who do not self-examine their viewpoints are not willing to consider being wrong. Click To Tweet
Whether it to protect power or position or out of anger or jealousy, it all comes down to pride. They cannot be wrong. There is no other viewpoint they will agree with other than their own, no matter how illogical or publicly supported by witnesses. The miracles didn’t matter to them because it went against their personal agenda. They COULD NOT be proven wrong, even by a miracle impossible to deny.When we lose our fear of God, we will lose our motive for self-examination. Click To Tweet
Pride blinds us to what is so obvious to others. It therefore puts us at risk in two particular areas. When we resist self-examination because we refuse to be wrong, these areas are sure to be compromised.
2 Areas at Risk
Relationship with God
Jesus plainly tells them that by not accepting the truth of the scene before them, stubbornly holding to their false viewpoints, they are in fact taking their stand against God Himself, through His Spirit. He explains in verses 31-32 what their “denial” actually means and what it will cost them if they persist in perpetuating falsehood. “But if you deliberately persist in your slanders against God’s Spirit, you are repudiating the very One who forgives. If you reject the Son of Man out of some misunderstanding, the Holy Spirit can forgive you, but when you reject the Holy Spirit, you’re sawing off the branch on which you’re sitting, severing by your own perversity all connection with the One who forgives.” They thought they were protecting themselves by accusing Jesus but they were actually putting themselves at an even greater risk with their faith. The plain truth is that we are all either FOR Christ or AGAINST Him (verse 30). How we respond to truth, how we dwell in falsehood testifies which side it is. By choosing self, we are taking our stand against Christ and His kingdom.
Relationship with others
Christ goes on in verses 33-37 to explain that the proof is in the pudding so to speak. People may profess they have faith and that they are innocent of wrongdoing but their judgement isn’t the defining determination. It is God’s and He will be judging by the fruit of their lives, not by their perspective of their life. A tree is known by its fruit, just as a person is known by their words/actions. Out of the overflow of our hearts we will interact with others. A good person will affect others for the good while a bad person will impact others for the worse. “Claiming” Christianity won’t be what saves us if it isn’t backed up with fruit in our lives (James 1:26,2:26). Jesus warns that we will have to give an account one day for “every careless word spoken” (NIV translation in verse 36). If that doesn’t make us all self-examine, I don’t know what would! You show me a person who is not in control of his or her tongue, refusing to acknowledge the truth of situations concerning them, perpetuating falsehood to benefit themselves, and I will show you a person with broken relationships scattered all throughout their lives. Whether they are what society calls toxic, narcissistic, or just plain selfish and inconsiderate, their relationships with others will be severely compromised.
How can we know if we are vulnerable?
These questions can help identify if we are guilty of neglecting the profitable behavior of self-examination.
- Do we consider how WE can be the one wrong about something?
- Are we ALWAYS in the right?
- Are we easily angered if someone doesn’t agree with us?
- Do we make it a habit of accusing and condemning others?
- Are we prone to exaggeration? Deception?
- Is our behavior and perspective supported by Scripture?
- Do we resort to sinning in order to prove our point?
- Do we refuse to humble ourselves even when more than one person disagrees with our perspective?
- Are we able to agree to disagree or must we be acknowledged as being in the right?
- Do we feel threatened if others don’t abide by our wishes or perspective?
- Do we with-hold approval or affection if others don’t agree with our opinion?
- Have we ever been called manipulative or controlling?
- Can we allow others to talk freely with us about their feelings or do we immediately disqualify their opinion?
- Do we use shame to keep a position of power over others?
What’s our takeaway?
It’s sad to think we sabotage our own faith and relationships with others. Even as we are desperate to be loved and accepted, we can defiantly stand against God and run others off in our life. This happens prevalently as we refuse to self-examine our own hearts, words, and actions.
God is most certainly examining them! So why are we fool enough not to?We will not be judged by our perspective but by God's. Click To Tweet
When we want to hang on to our power and control in the lives of others, at the expense of truth evidenced for all to see, we forfeit the fruitful faith that could be ours and the loving relationships with others to enjoy.
Words are powerful; take them seriously. Words can be your salvation. Words can also be your damnation. Matthew 12:37 MSG