The effect of a lifestyle and our actions
I've been thinking about what I've seen in my life. Godly
old men and women gone home to their reward. Their earthly lights gone out but
their influence living on in grandchildren and acquaintances. I am at coffee or
at dinner and someone mentions they knew the lady or man in question and I hear
a little more of their story -– another anecdote that provides me with an even
further picture of who they were. You can consider you know someone quite well
and later make new and surprising discoveries about them. It illustrates to me
again what the scripture means when it says, "we know in part -– that which
is perfect has not yet come", but God watched that lone life and saw all
The other day a friend visited. I've known him many years,
and I thought well, but as he spoke I learned about some interests and projects
he has been involved in for many years without my knowledge and some people he
knows that I never imagined he had contact with. In part he has become a
different man to me now that these other factors have come into view. My
opinions of him are changed. This man has virtue and a good moral compass, but
certain others do not.
How opinions changed rapidly of a nationally famous pastor
when it became known that he was having an affair. It was discovered to have
continued for many years.
Our impressions of a person are based on what we know or
think we know of them. What we "know" may be wrong. It was said of the
Messiah, "He will not be judging by what he looks upon, nor will he decide
according to that which is heard. The needy will be judged righteously by Him,
the poor will receive decisions made with true justice." Isaiah 11:3-4
It is helpful to remember that many of our opinions formed by
what is seen and heard may be wrong.
Some ladies suspected a friend of mine was involved in
adultery. They compared notes. They described to each other what they had "seen".
They "heard" from each other more information, but they were all wrong and
for a season their evil suspicions were nearly destroying a marriage. How glad I
am that the true Christ will not make judgement on the basis of gossip and
popular opinions. Then the innocent would have been judged guilty and the poor
would be oppressed. Be aware that much of the information you "know" about
others may be incorrect. His or her character may be better or worse than you
Your life, your emotions may be powerfully affected by what
people say about you. So it is little wonder that God offers His shelter and
protection to us when we are wrongly judged and when people howl for us to be
sentenced and punished.
As it is written - "In the day of my trouble Thou wilt hide
me within Thy secret pavilion." Psalm 27:5
The word for pavilion here is soke in Hebrew which
means a hut made with screens of intertwined twigs. A similar verse is in Psalm 31:20
which tells us we will be hidden from the intrigues of men and kept safe
from accusing tongues. We are hidden by God, and kept within His dwelling place.
One great example is our Lord Jesus Christ, who when He was reviled, reviled not
again. 1 Peter 2:23 He suffered.... He threatened not....
This seeking of God, instead of making smart replies and
counter accusations leads to a good reward -– as it says in Psalm 31:19 "How
great is your goodness, which you have stored up for those who fear you; which
you bestow in the sight of man on those who take refuge in you..."
Of course this is all very well. So far we have taken care of
the case of the falsely accused. But what of the guilty? It is still not God's
intention to judge them using the agency of public gossip. The problem, you see,
is that gossip believes a lot of extra and false information and is biased in
favour of condemnation. It is prejudiced, so it's witness is suspect.
God has said He will judge every thing, every secret thing.
Mark 13:35, Luke 8:17
He has a special time for it. Romans 2:5-16, Acts 17:31
Until then we are not permitted to make the final assessment.
When God judges -– all the facts will be in. It will not be
like a TV courtroom drama where someone rushes in last minute with new and
exciting information which changes the whole outcome of the case. 1 Corinthians 4:5,
Finally, as I apply these truths in my own life it means that
I realise God will vindicate what must be vindicated and He will judge what must
be judged. I walk according to what I think I know, but must be open for God's
opinion. When I feel indignant about others being wrongly accused (or myself for
that matter) I know there is a righteous judge who will do everything perfectly,
at the right time.
I must go on working, must go on seed sowing. Knowing the
effects of action go on and on in people's lives for good or for evil, like
when one throws a stone into a still pool of water, the circle of ripples
spreads out and out, down through time until judgement day, when the secrets of
all hearts will be revealed.
At the end of our lives we will be remembered for something.
What will our legacy be? Will our acquaintances curse the day we came into their
lives, or bless God for it? I think of the names and faces of so many people I've
known and think of the effect of their lives now over, and try to learn from
them, so that I can use the lessons in this life of mine still being lived...