Sunday, March 26, 2017

Should Christians have secrets

By Hayley Boud

As Christians we are taught that we shouldn’t have secrets and that we should be transparent.  But is that what the Bible says?

I remember when Odon first came to New Zealand and he prophesied over each of us who were present in the meeting.  He then told us not to tell anyone what was prophesied because it was just between us and God.  Does that mean we were being secretive and not transparent? 

It made me think of the story of Joseph in Genesis 37:5 onwards.  Joseph had a dream and then he told his brothers.  He dreamed that they were binding sheaves in the field and his one rose up and the brothers’ sheaves bowed down to him.  His brothers were angry at his dream and hated him.  He then had another dream and told his brothers again.  This dream was about the sun, moon and eleven stars were bowing down to him (he had eleven brothers).  His brothers again became angry because Joseph was saying that not only will the brothers bow down before him but the parents would too.

In verse 10, the brothers rebuked him.  In verse 11, they were jealous.  Joseph made himself appear proud, while he was not.  Was it necessary for him to share this dream?  Couldn’t he just keep it to himself?  By sharing it, he caused others to stumble, he caused others to hate him, be jealous and later this hatred caused his brothers to want to kill him.

Another good example from the Bible is in Matthew 2:1 onwards.  After Jesus was born, magi arrived in Jerusalem saying, “where is He who has been born King of the Jews? For we saw His star in the east, and have come to worship Him”.  When Herod the king heard this, he was troubled and he called the magi to find out the time the star appeared.  Herod had all the male children in Bethlehem, 2 years and under killed.  Had the magi just followed the star without spreading the news, those children may not have been killed.

We have to be careful to know what to share and what to keep between us.  We have to remember that when we share information, this can be a stumbling block to others.  It might make them angry, jealous, hate someone etc.  We have to think carefully about our reasons for sharing the information, e.g. gossip, lack of self-control (speak before I think).  We have to think carefully about the consequences of sharing that information, will it cause the other person to gossip, be curious, complain, judge others.  As Colleen said in her recent message, be slow to speak and quick to listen.

Colleen’s recent message reminded us that we need discernment and wisdom.  We need to have discernment and wisdom before sharing information. 

Recently, I was really disappointed in myself for sharing information that someone had told me not to.  I let that person down.  I betrayed their trust.  Even though this person and I are not best friends, I knew I had failed the test.

If someone asks us not to share information, we should respect that.  Maybe they have a good reason.  Maybe God has told them that this is not the right time for others to know yet.

I hear many Christians say that they don’t keep secrets because, “the truth will find you out”.  That is very true that eventually the truth will be seen.  However, we have to wise and know when to share information and sometimes it’s not up to us to share it but for people to discover on their own.  I used to have a boss who was horrible to work for but he had everyone fooled into thinking he was an amazing guy.  People would say to me, “you are so lucky to work for him”.  I couldn’t tell people he was horrible but eventually they discovered on their own.

I have aims and goals that I keep to myself because maybe God doesn’t agree with them or maybe I’ll change my mind.  It looks foolish when you tell people that you have decided you are going to live in Auckland next year and then you don’t.  People will judge you for not doing what you said you would.

I don't think there is a single Christian who is completley transparent.  If we are honest with each other, we will know that is true.  So why do we Christians who are not 100% transparent tell other Christians that they should be?  I’ve never read a verse in the Bible that says I have to be transparent in front of others.

There is a great Bible verse that says, “Walk in the light as He is in the light”, 1 John 1:7.  Walking in the light exposes us.  For example, my light in my bathroom is dull so when I leave home, I think I look great.  My light in the bathroom at work is very bright so I get a shock when I see my true reflection.  Where did all those wrinkles come from?

We need to walk in the light so we can see who we truly are and to keep walking in the right direction.  Walking in the light does not mean sharing everything with everybody.  We need wisdom and take time before sharing to ask ourselves, if I share this, how will others react?  With jealousy, judging, selfishness, anger, unforgiveness.

A good example where we need to be wise is when we know we have wronged someone and we know we should say sorry.  Be careful not to share too much.  The person may not even know you wronged them and you may create a problem that never existed.  I usually say, “I’m very sorry I wronged you”.  If they say, how?  I say, “If you don’t remember, then praise God because you have already forgiven me” and I leave it there. It’s not a good idea to create a problem.

Let's remember to think carefully before sharing information and let's not judge others when they keep information to themselves. 

Judge Not

By Colleen Podmore

Matthew 7:1 says that we should not judge others or we will be judged ourselves. In this context the judgement made is negative. People will quote this verse in response to someone who has pointed out their sin to them. But this is not what Jesus means when He says, ‘Do not judge, or you too will be judged.’ We have to read on to verse 6 to get the complete message.

Matthew 7:1-6 is teaching us about living lives that are authentic, changing our own wrong and sinful attitudes, words and actions (our ‘planks’) before trying to help someone else with the ‘speck’ in their own eye – or the small sin in their lives.

Matthew Henry puts it quite succinctly in this excerpt from his commentary:

Matt 7:1-6   We must judge ourselves, and judge of our own acts, but not make our word a law to everybody. We must not judge rashly, nor pass judgment upon our brother without any ground. We must not make the worst of people.

Here is a just reproof to those who quarrel with their brethren for small faults, while they allow themselves in greater ones. Some sins are as motes, while others are as beams; some as a gnat, others as a camel. Not that there is any sin little; if it be a mote, or splinter, it is in the eye; if a gnat, it is in the throat; both are painful and dangerous, and we cannot be easy or well till they are got out.

That which charity teaches us to call but a splinter in our brother's eye, true repentance and godly sorrow will teach us to call a beam in our own.

It is as strange that a man can be in a sinful, miserable condition, and not be aware of it, as that a man should have a beam in his eye, and not consider it; but the god of this world blinds their minds.

Here is a good rule for reprovers; first reform thyself.

Keeping up appearances

The dictionary meaning of judgement is to ‘form an opinion about someone or something’. It does not have a value and may be either negative or positive, eg in my judgement they are a very fine person. In my judgement they could be less selfish.

We all make judgements when we meet people for the first time. We look at them and make a judgement about who they are, how they live and whether we like them or not. In the blink of an eye they are either ok or not ok. Have you ever been judged like this? Conversely, because others also do this to us, we learn to put on a certain appearance to become accepted or acceptable and we also act in certain ways especially around certain people who we want to impress.

I remember a sitcom a few years ago called ‘Keeping up appearances’ about a woman, Hyacinth Bucket, spelled bucket but pronounced bouquet. She plays the part of a real snob and desperately tries to make herself out to be upper class but her family is lower class.

The Sermon on the Mount (Matt 5-7) refers to a time when Jesus sat down to teach the crowds about how to live a life dedicated to and pleasing to God, free from hypocrisy, full of love and grace, full of wisdom and discernment. He preaches to crowds of people who have flocked to hear him. People who are maybe just curious, or maybe desperate to know God and how to live lives acceptable and pleasing to Him. Jesus has compassion on the crowds and he looks at them and begins to teach them! You can feel the compassion when Matthew says in Matt 5:1, ‘Now when he saw the crowds he went up on a mountainside and sat down’ – perhaps so that the crowds of people, men and women, young and old, rich and poor could hear him and see him? For no-one is excluded from the Kingdom of God.

The people did not have the benefit of Scripture, they were like sheep without a shepherd. The religious class known as Pharisees were hypocrites (Matt 6:2, 5, 16), who said one thing but did another. On another occasion Jesus told the people they were blind guides (Luke 6:39) and to do what they say and not what they do (Matt 23:3), as they do not practice what they preach! Perhaps these verse are mainly directed at them but because we can also be hypocrites at us also.

In summary then, these verses in Matt 7:1-6 are not telling us not to judge but to do so in a right manner and incidentally, verse 6 is also warning about people who will not listen and to be careful around them ie they are Pharisees.

Discernment is defined as the quality of being able to grasp and comprehend what is obscure. When we make a judgement, we also need wisdom to discern the right way to act in a given situation. Perhaps it might be to be silent, or to pray or to encourage, or to warn. In addition, a discerning person needs to be self-aware regarding their own emotions and motivations for intervening. It also requires us to see through the lenses of the gifts of the Holy Spirit. As I look at a person or consider a situation, I view through my eyes which are covered with the lenses of the fruit of love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness faithfulness, gentleness and self-control (Gal 5:22-23). Perhaps we need them all or just patience. Discernment is making a judgement with self-awareness and wisdom.

Let us desire also spiritual discernment. Hebrews 5:11-14 says, ‘But solid food is for the mature, who by constant use have trained themselves to distinguish good from evil’. Solid food is understanding and grappling with God’s word. Reading it methodically and regularly, meditating on the meaning and allowing it to change us. Maybe we just like ‘milk’, that is easily understood and digested - passages that we don’t have to think too much about (Heb 5:12). We must know what the complete word says so that when the counterfeit comes along – we can spot it straight away. Know the voice of God so that we can distinguish it from the voice of the world (ie good and evil).

This is the gift of discerning spirits as Paul talks about in 1Cor 12:10, it is not being able to see Angels and Demons but it is about discerning situations and distinguishing between good and evil and being able act accordingly.

Finally, let us not be hypocrites keeping up appearances but let us be mature Christians who are being transformed by the renewing of their minds as we daily read the Scriptures, chewing the solid food and when we are called to judge, combine that judgement with spiritual fruit and wisdom to be able to discern correctly and act accordingly.