How Far Will You Go?

Have you ever met folk who honestly believe it is their heavenly assigned task to correct the behavior of their brothers and sisters as did the prophets of old? Perhaps their corrections involve food.  I call them the cheese police or fruit inspectors.  Or maybe they look down their censorial noses at the glitter on a sister’s blouse or another woman’s jewelry.  I once met a self-appointed corrections officer who told an over-weight pastor that he disgraced God whenever he stood up to preach because there will be no obese persons in heaven!  Some seriously believe they’ve been appointed by God, like the prophets of old, to ‘straighten out’ their brothers and sisters.

Let’s see how much you know about those men God used to speak to His people.  Did you know the prophet Isaiah walked around naked and barefoot for three years symbolizing the Egyptian captivity of God’s people? (Isaiah 20:3-5)  Did you know Jeremiah hid his underwear under a rock, wore a cattle yoke around his neck and dramatically broke clay pots in the center of the city? (Jeremiah 27,28) Did you know Ezekiel ate a scroll and lay down on his side and spoke not a word  for 390 days? (Ezekiel 3) Later old Zeek lived on a diet of barley cakes and cow dung.  (Ezekiel 4) Are you ready to take on such an assignment from the Divine Creator?  I’ve wrestled with this corrections thing for many years.  On one hand Jesus said, “Judge not that yet be not judged;” on the other, Scripture is used for correction and for reproof.

This week in church Pastor Gary Brady spoke on the analogy of the Vine and the branches of John 15.   You know the one, Jesus is the vine and we are the branches, and we must be attached to the Vine in order to grow.  An old comfortable story. I felt less comfortable when he reminded how God prunes the branches.  This disturbed me. I certainly did not want to be cut away as dross.  Just as my stomach growled from hunger and I checked my watch for the time, Pastor Gary brought me up short.  “The branches were never assigned the job of pruning their fellow branches.”  Wow!  I slunk down in the pew.  How many times have I taken on the task of pruning the length of a sister’s skirt, or a brother’s choice in music?  I’ve even heard of a child being scolded by a teacher for bringing a slice of pepperoni pizza to school in her lunch.

The pastor reminded me that my assigned task is to bear good fruit– love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, etc…. (Galatians 5:22, 23)But even that I can’t do on my own.  It happens by the Holy Spirit working within my heart.

“But, but, but, isn’t it my job to be a fruit inspector?  And if not me, who’s going to correct them?” I sputter.  “Who’s going to show them the right way?”  Perhaps I should answer those questions with two more questions, who corrects you?  Who corrects me?  The Holy Spirit’s task is to comfort and instruct.  Just like an apple tree loaded with ripe, luscious fruit will attract the attention of a hungry man, so our fruit will attract starving souls.  But then we must let the Holy Spirit take over from here.  The process is simple really.  As long as my branch produces rich, juicy fruit, sweet to the taste, I will remain attached to the Vine– Jesus Christ and He to me.

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2 Responses to How Far Will You Go?

  1. Rhonda Reedy says:

    I chuckled at the first part, as we have a member in our family who is a “fruit inspector” and cannot keep silent when she sees someone “sinning.” But the truth is, no one likes to be preached to, or talked down to, as if they are in the wrong, and getting the impression that the fruit inspector is more holy than they are. On the other hand, God does have to discipline from time to time and one of the ways is through the process outlined in Matthew 18. I’m an elder in my church and am involved in a church discipline issue right now. It’s painful to do. It’s not a pleasant job. And it’s not part of being an elder that I enjoy at all. If we enjoy pointing out someone’s sins, there is definitely something wrong with our Christian experience. My goal is to uplift and encourage whenever I can. That’s the job God has given me to do, and in my opinion, that’s what works best to grow people in the love of Jesus.

    • pepsi7 says:

      God does place individuals in judicial positions, ie. Pastors, elders, actual judges, to maintain order. For instance, if I am placed on a jury to convict a murderer, I believe I would have the authority to carry out the law as much as I might not appreciate doing so. Unfortunately the problem arises when people lacking the God-given authority insist on playing judge and jury to others who vary from our ‘standard of conduct’. That’s where we get into trouble. We are so busy inspecting other’s fruit our own fruit rots on the vine–to continue the metaphor. :-)

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