Guys like me on Death Row are often judged harshly by the Christian community. This was something that really turned my stomach when I was a young Christian. It is written numerous times in the biblical text to “Judge not, and you will not be judged”. Let me take you through the scriptures and show you what I'm talking about.
Let’s start with what Jesus says in Matthew 7:1-2“Do not judge, or you will be judged For in the same way you judge others, you will be judged, and with the same measures you use, it will be measured to you” There you have it...the harsher you judge others determines the harshness that you will be judged. This is reiterated by Jesus in a slightly different way in Luke 6:37-37. Lets view. 37. “do not judge and you will not be judged. Do not condemn and you will not be condemned. Forgive and you will be forgiven.” 38. “Give and it will be given to you. A good measure pressed down, shaken together and running over will be poured into your lap. For with the same measure you use it will be measured to you.” Right above those verses Jesus was teaching about loving those who do not love you. Let's view that before loving on. Luke6:32-36 “If you love those who love you, what credit is that to you? Even sinners love those who love them. 33. and if you do good to those who are good to you, what credit is that to you? Even sinners do that. 34. and if you lend to those from whom you expect repayment, what credit is that to you? Even sinners lend to the sinners expecting to be repaid in full. 35. but love your enemies, do good to them, and lend to them without expecting to get anything back. Then your reward will be great, and you will be sons of the Most High, because He is kind to the ungrateful and wicked. 36. be merciful, just as your Father is merciful. That says a lot....not only is He trying to teach His followers to love one another and not judge one another...but to step outside the realm and love and do for those outside the Christian community. That verse 32 is powerful because it is easy to love those who show us love. It is much more difficult to step out side and show love to a complete stranger. Look at what Paul is preaching in Hebrews 13:1-3 keep on loving each other as brothers. 2. do not forget to entertain strangers, for by doing so some have entertained angles without knowing it. 3. remember those in prison as if you were their fellow prisons. And those who are mistreated as if you yourself was suffering. That goes hand in hand with what Jesus was saying above. But how many people really live by that? Few, if any! None that I've ever met in real life. James 4:12 warns about judging one's neighbor stating---”Who are you to judge your neighbor?” And what did Jesus say about our neighbors? Let's examine that starting with Matthew 19:19 “Love your neighbor as yourself.” Mark 12:31 coincides with that as does Paul's teachings in Romans 13:9 and Gal. 5:14 and James 2:8. Lets look at who Jesus says your neighbor is and for that we turn to Luke10:25-37. 25 on one occasion an expert in the law stood up to test Jesus. “Teacher”, he asked, what must I do to inherit eternal life?” 26”What is written of the law?” He replied. “How do you read it?” 27 He answered, “Love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your strength and with all your mind, and love your neighbor as yourself.” 28. “You have answered correctly” Jesus replied. “do this and you will live” 29. But he wanted to justify himself, so he asked Jesus “and who is my neighbor?” 30. In reply Jesus said “A man was going down from Jerusalem to Jericho when he fell into the hands of robbers. They stripped him of his clothes, beat him and went away leaving him for dead” 31. A priest happens to be going down the same road and when he saw the man he passed by on the other side. 32. so too, a Levitt when he came to the place and saw him, passed by on the other side. 33 but a Samaritan, as he traveled, came to where the man was and when he saw him, he took pity on him. 34. He went to him and bandaged his wounds, pouring on oil and wine. Then he put the man on his own donkey, took him to an inn and took care of him. 35 The next day he took out two silver coins and gave them to the inn keeper. “look after him” he said, “and when I return, I will reimburse you for any extra expense you may have” 36 which of these three do you think was a neighbor to the man to fell into the hands of robbers? 37 the expert in the law replied “the one who had mercy on him” Jesus told him, “Go and do likewise” There we have it --- our neighbor. Let's look at it a little deeper...looking at our enemies.
For this turn to Matthew 5:44 where Jesus says “But I tell you. Love your enemies and pray for those who persecute you” Which is further supported by what Jesus says in Luke 6:27 and Luke 6:35. 27 reads but I tell you who hear me: Love your enemies, do good to those who hate you. Which he reiterates here in verse 35 but love your enemies, do good to them and lend to them without expectation to get anything back. Then your rewards will be great and you will be the sons of the Most High, because he is kind to the ungrateful and wicked. 36 be merciful just as your Father is merciful.
Jesus is consistently teaching forgiveness, mercy and compassion here. Rejecting judgmental, vengeful behavior...a trait that today's Christian needs to look closer at. To be a Christian is to be Christ like … are you living up to these teachings? Jesus early on dealt with rich followers. See Matthew 19:16-24, Mark 10:17-30 and Luke 18:18-30. He was addressing those who were not willing to sacrifice their earthly treasurers in order to follow Him and His teachings. We see this all the time in the churches. Over priced rings, chains, clothes, etc. Christians bound by earthly goods. That reminds me of the parable of “A Tree and its Fruit” given in Matthew 7:15-23 where christians on judgement day will be coming forward saying we know you Lord and Jesus responded in verse 23. Then I will tell them plainly, “i never knew you. Away from me you evildoers!” This is to say that not everyone who calls themselves a Christian is truly a Christian. Your salvation doesn't simply rest on your faith (believing). Most people read John 3:16 and stop! Failing to read John 3:16-21 about living and walking in the light. Paul goes on further to explain the need to stop deliberate sin. Over in Hebrews 10:26-31 Verse 26 reads “if we deliberately keep on sinning after we have received the knowledge of the truth, no sacrifice for sin is left. It goes on to show how deliberate sinners are treating the blood of Christ with total disrespect. Study it if you are a Christian. Look what is written in First John 2:3,4,5,6, 9 and 10. Verse 3. We know that we have come to know him if we obey His commands. 4. The man who says I know him, but does not do what He commands is a liar and the truth is not in him. 5. but if anyone obeys His word, God's love is truly made complete in him. This is how we know we are in Him. 6. whoever claims to live in Him must walk as Jesus did. Now let's examine verse 9 and 10. 9. Anyone who claims to be in the light but hates his brother is still in darkness. 10. Whosoever loves his brother lives in the light and there is nothing in him to make him stumble.
Now look at First John 3:6 and 9 6. No one who lives in Him keeps on sinning. No one who continues to sin has either seen Him or Known Him. 9. No one who is born of God will continue to sin, because God's seed remains in him. He cannot go on sinning because he has been born of God.
Verse 10 goes on to tell you that this is how we know the children of God and also recognize the children of the devil. So it's clear that not everyone who says “I'm a Christian” is living inside the realm of Christ. Paul wrote about revenge over in Romans 12:19-21 which he took from Proverbs 25: 22
Do not take revenge my friends, but leave room for God's wrath. For it is written It is mine to avenge. I will repay, says the Lord. 20. On the contrary if your enemy is hungry, feed him. If he is thirsty, give him something to drink. In doing this, you will heap burning coals on his head. 21. Do not be over come by evil, but over come evil with good. The bottom line is, are you going to follow the teachings of Christ, living like the good Samaritan in Luke 10:33-37, being a good neighbor, loving others as you love yourself? Or are you going to be like the rich man who would not give up his earthly possessions to follow Jesus seen in Matthew 19:16-24? Many years ago I'd go to Christians and ask for financial assistance. They knew I had no way to earn money and yet they would say “sorry I can't help you out”. I found out that non Christians would give me more help than Christians and that really boggled my mind...That Christians could recognize my suffering....some of the volunteers even coming in and witnessing it first hand and yet would not even consider any financial assistance. I'd never say “some neighbor you are” although I's clearly think about those verses, “Love your neighbor as yourself.” Ministries, preachers and priest would always reject any type of financial help. They didn't care about your needs in the earthly realm. “I come to save your soul” they would say. Not to reduce your earthly suffering but to show you faith. What did James say about Faith without deeds. See James 2:26 As the body without the spirit is dead, so faith without deeds is dead. Jesus said in Matthew 5:16 let your good deeds shine before me so they may praise your Father in heaven. Also view First Timothy 6:17-18 Command those who are rice in this present world not to be arrogant nor to put their hope in wealth, which is so uncertain, but to put their hope in God, who richly provides us with everything for our enjoyment. Command them to do good, to be rice in good deeds, and to be generous and willing to share. Joel Osteen, the Grahams, Pat Robertson, with all their wealth will only contribute small amounts of their fortunes that they can write off in their ministries. Hebrew10:31 “It is a dreadful thing to fall into the hands of the living God.”
Love your neighbor as yourself.
Closing in Peace and Love.