Currently, there are wrongdoings that clearly go against God’s Word but are socially condoned. Their promotion is heavily financed and strategically organized. They are becoming embedded in public policy and international organization programs. Those who oppose may face ostracism, loss of job, boycotts, exclusion from social media and even violent physical attacks and legal action.
As Christians, how are we supposed to deal with this situation? Are we to speak out against wrongdoers? Are we to declare that what they do is evil? If we do, the consequences will be increasingly severe. Should we therefore just ignore the trends, accept the claim that our view is obsolete and let the evil proliferate as social order collapses? What does God expect of us?
In Matthew 7: 1-2 Jesus tells us, “Do not judge, or you too will be judged. For in the same way you judge others, you will be judged, and with the measure you use, it will be measured to you.” (NIV) Is Jesus telling us to look the other way and keep silent? Three precepts give us guidance.
Love means that we must try to bring others to Jesus and save them no matter what their wrongs. “Whoever turns a sinner from the error of his way will save him from death and cover over a multitude of sins” (James 5:19-20 NIV 1984).
We therefore have the responsibility to speak out against the sinning which may generate painful and costly reaction. In doing so, we do not judge the wrongdoer. We simply communicate God’s rules, the blessings of obedience and the consequences of disobedience. What people then do is their responsibility. It is not a matter of them against us; it is a matter of them against God. God exists, His rules prevail over earthly laws whether we choose to believe this or not.
As his messengers, we must recognize that we are all sinners. The mentioned wrongdoings are not the only sins committed. We will all stand before the judgment seat of God. In Matthew 7:3, Jesus sternly warns us to not be hypocritical in judging others while ignoring our own sins: “Why do you look at the speck of sawdust in your brother’s eye and pay no attention to the plank in your own eye?”. We must first focus on pleasing the Lord and keeping our own lives in order no matter what others may say or do.
Finally, in our communications about these sins, we must always be wise. It is far more powerful to testify about the blessings of obeying God’s rules than hypocritically direct accusations against wrongdoers.
From antiquity onwards - at least until fancy gadgets were invented - sailors have used the stars to guide them across the seas. In this celestial navigation, Polaris, or the North Star (which curiously is a system of three stars in one), has been by far the most important reference point because it indicates quite precisely which direction is north.
If we do not have something to guide us, we can get lost on the ocean. We can get even more harmfully lost in other ways in our journey through life. We all need a “true north” and a worthy destination to enable us to successfully navigate across the waters that we travel on. Far too many people drift along day by day in their routines with no purpose, no sense of meaning, no special direction and no goal.
The dangers of losing one’s way are increasing. In post-modernist thought, there are no guideposts and no destination. Emotions supersede truth. Everyone’s values have the same worth as everyone else’s values. There are no absolute values and principles, because supposedly there is no Creator. Therefore, there are growing multitudes running around aimlessly, hollowly, hopelessly and completely lost. Anxiety and depression are skyrocketing.
We need not flounder helplessly and aimlessly. God has sent us his son Jesus Christ. He has left us with the Holy Spirit to be our pilot. Through them, if we let them, we are guided through life to eternal salvation. In John 14:6 Jesus said, "I am the way and the truth and the life. No one comes to the Father except through me.” John 8:12 gives additional understanding: “When Jesus spoke again to the people, he said, ‘I am the light of the world. Whoever follows me will never walk in darkness, but will have the light of life’ ”. No greater clarity is needed.
The physical North Star helps guide us where we want to go. But it is affected by precessional wobbling that causes it to change position about one degree every seventy-three years. In a couple of centuries, it will not show us where true north is. It is distant, inaccessible and slowly dimming. Most importantly, it does not assure that we have a worthy destination.
In contrast, Jesus has eternal constancy. He not only shows us the way; He is the way. He is totally accessible if we let Him be. As we draw closer, His light grows ever brighter.
In the physical world, lengthy periods of fog or cloud can obscure our view of the North Star and cause us to lose our way. The spiritual world is not free from the danger of getting disoriented. There are foggy teachings and treacherous currents of opinion and political correctness that can distort our understanding of scripture and affect our relationship with Jesus. There are idols, temptations and earthly riches that can distract us, drag us off course and get us hopelessly lost.
As Paul exhorts in Ephesians 4:14, we must not be “infants, tossed back and forth by the waves, and blown here and there by every wind of teaching and by the cunning and craftiness of people in their deceitful scheming”. We must keep our eyes upon Jesus. Only in this way can we successfully navigate through life.
Each of us has a few old sayings we heard in our homes that stick in our mind and come back to haunt us years later. Do you recall some you used to hear? I still hear my past reminding me, "Always clean up your plate!" "If a thing's worth doing, it's worth doing right!" Sound familiar? If you ask our children what they remember, they will not easily forget "Maximize your potential!"
Frequently after completing a responsibility, such as taking out the trash, we would ask: "Did you maximize your potential?" That became the standard for every responsibility. If grades were the issue, we weren't too concerned whether they were A's or C's. What we wanted to know was, "Did you do your best?"
We eventually backed off this focus because it wasn't always understood. It was never our intent to send people on a guilt trip because they didn't always do their best at everything equally. No one has the time nor the ability to do everything; much less to do everything well. Maximizing your potential involves doing your best, taking into account your abilities, priorities, and time available. There are lots of things I have to do that I might do better if I had more time. Maximizing my potential means using the time I have effectively to accomplish what pleases God.
The principle is true whether we’re talking about ministry or daily living. God wants us to do our best with the resources He has given us. He never holds us accountable for abilities He hasn't given us, nor for time we don't have. He asks us to be faithful in our use of the abilities He has given us (1 Cor. 4:1-2). In short, to maximize our potential.
Jim Elliot said it well: "Wherever you are, be all there. Live to the hilt every situation you believe to be the will of God." David maximized his potential when he brought the ark up to Jerusalem. He committed himself totally to restoration of the ark and to the worship of Yahweh.
Paul emphasizes the same point: "Whatever you do, do your work heartily, as for the Lord rather than for men; knowing that from the Lord you will receive the reward of the inheritance. It is the Lord Christ whom you serve" (Col. 3:23-24).
Peter adds this perspective: "Whoever speaks, let him speak, as it were, the utterances of God; whoever serves, let him do so as by the strength which God supplies; so that in all things God may be glorified through Jesus Christ, to whom belongs the glory and dominion forever and ever" (1 Pet. 4:11).
How about us? Are we maximizing our potential? Are we using the resources God placed in our hands for His glory? If we aren't, the question should prod us to action. If we are, it could put an end to a guilt trip we never should have taken!