Why Every Christian Needs To Hear This Message

Construction_in_Toronto_May_2012

Now if anyone builds on this foundation with gold, silver, precious stones, wood, hay, straw, each one’s work will become clear; for the Day [we all stand before Christ] will declare it, because it will be revealed by fire; and the fire will test each one’s work, of what sort it is. – 1 Corinthians 3:12 (NKJV)

What materials are you building your life with? Is it with pure motives, like gold, silver, or precious stones? Or is your work driven by selfish ambition and conceit, i.e. wood, hay, or straw? Paul’s message above to the Corinthian church is one that every Christian needs to hear again and again.

One of Those “Amen or Oh My” Verses

When Jesus saved me, I was a club DJ—and truly godless in every sense of the word. I didn’t grow up in Church, I had never read a Bible, nor can I remember ever meeting an authentic Christian person before college. But in the middle of my chain-smoking and wild ways, I had a revelation of Jesus at my father’s deathbed, and within a year’s time God sent me a friend who bought me a New Living Translation Bible because she wanted me to have something I could understand.

I would do my DJ-thing at night and pour over the Scriptures during the day. Reading the Word for the first time, I was enthralled with the beauty of it all—especially the “red words”, the teachings of Christ. But I continually had this thought come to me, “DO PEOPLE ACTUALLY READ THIS BOOK?”. So much was shocking. The verse above, 1 Corinthians 3:12, caused a similar reaction in me. I call it one of those “amen or oh-my” verses of the Bible. To this day, I still wonder if we Christian folk really catch the gravity of what Paul is saying here!

What is Paul talking about?

In context, Paul is teaching about leaders in the Body of Christ. He’s saying to the church, “You Corinthians are so enamored with this leader or that leader, but you are not enamored by the right things. You draw your worth and value from the leader that you follow, thinking so highly of yourself, and your leader. But your judgment is off: you’re seeing things in the flesh and not from God’s point of view. You’re so infatuated with gifted people that you forget a gifted-leader is simply a servant of God, working for God’s glory (the One whom you should really be enamored with). Stop putting so much stock in people. Remember, when Jesus returns, ALL of us believers will stand before Him, and with eyes like fire He will see through all the flash and external stuff and give us a TRUE opinion of how well we’ve built our ministries.” (Paraphrased, 1 Corinthians 3:3-13)

What are we building… and how are we building it?

All throughout the Bible, God refers to both our personal lives and our ministry (our work, our calling) as buildings. In Psalm 118:22, people are referred to as builders: “the Stone that the builders have rejected, this became the Chief Cornerstone.” [emp. added] (NKJV) Likewise, Jesus taught people to build their house (their personal life) on the rock of His Word. (Matthew 7:24-27) The Psalmist warned, if we build something that God’s not building, we labor in vain. (Psalm 127:1) This labor represents our calling, work, ministry—anything we set out to accomplish before God. Of course, then we have the Apostle Paul here in our passage using both the building metaphor and the imagery of the chief cornerstone from Psalm 118:22. Paul says, “For no other foundation can anyone lay than that which is laid, which is Jesus Christ.” (1 Corinthians 3:11, NKJV) Jesus is our solid foundation, the chief cornerstone rejected by the builders, that we are to build our life and ministry on.

So with this in mind, I want to ask you, what are you building… and how are you building it?

First, are you building the right thing? Are you doing what God has called you to do? Not what you want to do or what people think you should do. Have you sought after God and His calling for your life?

Second, are you building it with a pure heart? Or do you approach God’s work with impure motives? Is your labor fueled by love or self? Is there a mixture? When it comes to our motives, according to the Scriptures, you have two options: you can have God reveal them to you NOW or THEN… but either way He’s gonna show you. The “Son of God, whose eyes are like flames of fire,” is “that One who searches out the thoughts and intentions of every person” and He says, “I will give to each of you whatever you deserve.” (Revelation 2:18,23 NLT) Now… or then. He will test each man’s work and see what it’s really made of. I don’t know about you, but I’m of the opinion it’s far better for Him to deal with me now!

May we all seek God, and ask Him these two very important questions:

  1. What have you called me to do, Lord? (the what)
  2. How do You want me to go about doing it? (the how, when, and where)

If we call upon God, He will answer. If we seek, He’ll show us the way we are to go! Don’t be discouraged, we all have stuff in our hearts that God needs to deal with. But, dear reader, be a person who seeks after God, bearing your heart before Him. Get real with Him, and He’ll surely not allow your feet to slip. He has enlarged a path for you—your life is divinely orchestrated by the Most High God. He’s more than able to finish the work He has started in you. Yes, He’s got it all planned out. Seek Him!

 

 

 

 

The Cure for Being Judgmental

Finger-Pointing

 

Have you ever just felt “judgy”?

I’ll never forget a young woman coming up to me after a message, her freckled face beaming from ear to ear. She said: “Pastor AJ, God has been convicting me and helping me with my attitude—I’ve been feeling so “judgy” lately!”

Her heart for God made me smile along with her. “Judgy”… I had never heard that expression before. But I could totally relate to what she was referring to. Many times, I’ve caught myself with the same attitude.

What about you? Have you ever gotten all “judgy”? You know, that funky mood where you’re critical of everything and everyone? I call it being a “Mr. Crabby-pants”. Or you’re looking down your nose at somebody. Or maybe it’s a just particular person that bugs you, and you don’t know why.

What I have found is that being critical has a lot more to do with me than it does with the person I am judging. A critical spirit tells me everyone else needs fixing, when really it’s my crummy attitude that needs the fixing.

Bottom line: to be consistently uncomfortable with people is often a sign that I am uncomfortable with myself. We treat others as we treat ourselves. The more insecure you are, the more uneasy you feel around others, and the more harsh and negative your judgment towards them. 

In other words, show me a critical person, and I’ll show you an insecure person.

So what’s the antidote for being judgmental? 

Receive the love of God for yourself.

Personal revelation of our love and acceptance in Christ will drive out that icky insecurity! When you start to know—to really know, to have a personal knowledge of— God’s love and acceptance for you, you will become a more secure person. That’s just how it works. Love brings security.

Meditating on His acceptance of you brings a sense of safety to your soul. God’s affirmation is a massive anchor for our self-esteem; it becomes the foundation of our identity in Christ. In this way, love always brings a healthy, balanced view of self.

How do we receive His love? The more we understand and confess what His Word says about us, the more we allow God’s love to seep down into your soul. And the less “judgy” we will be.

I am loved… I am a child of God.

To believe what He says about us makes us able to live in our own skin. To be ourselves. To be. And to let others be. You can be a little easier on others. You can treat them how your Heavenly Father has treated you.  If God is okay with you, then you can be okay with yourself.

You are accepted, beloved… What’s the use in pulling other people down?

You are affirmed… Why any need to prove you’re better than someone else?

Here’s the truth: Critical people carry inner turmoil, and it’s simply spilling onto others. That’s what criticism is: an overflow… an overflow of inner judgement. An overflow of inner shame. An overflow of self-hatred and negativity. An overflow of inner fear (or what we call insecurity).

But God’s love quiets the storm and allows mercy to be given and received. Through Christ’s indescribable gift, the Father welcomes and accepts you! Through his great love, He gives you freedom and the room to grow. He gives you a chance! So now, you can give others a chance.

Be humble, accept His acceptance of you, and let God stay the Judge. He’s better at it anyways. You’ll start to be more comfortable with yourself, and a lot more comfortable with others!

Try it now. Say this out loud:

I am loved.

I am accepted.

I am not perfect.

I am something better: I’m wanted by God.