Beware of a Critical Spirit! John 21:20-23

Text:  “Judge not, that ye be not judged.  For with what judgement ye judge, ye shall be judged; and with what measure ye mete (weigh, or apportion), it shall be measured to you again.  And why beholdest thou the mote (speck, or small particle) that is in thy brother’s eye, but considerest not the beam (large plank of wood) in thine own eye? 

Matthew 7:1-5.

Good morning, self-effacing Christian!  Knowing yourself, and all your hidden faults, as deeply as you do; and measuring yourself, your talents, your gifting, in the light of Christ’s total perfection - you would rather seek to avoid the limelight than be more extrovert in your ministry for Christ.  You do well, my friend, and you exercise great wisdom and Spiritual discernment in Christian service.  The Lord loves to bless the humble Christian disciple.

“For whosoever exalteth himself shall be abased; and he that humbleth himself shall be exalted.”  (Luke 14:11)

“Humble yourselves in the sight of the Lord, and he shall lift you up.  Speak not evil one of another, brethren.  He that speaketh evil of his brother, and judgeth his brother, speaketh evil of the law, and judgeth the law; but if thou judge the law, thou art not a doer of the law, but a judge.  There is one Lawgiver, Who is able to save and to destroy; who art thou that judgest another?”  (James 4:10-12)

Today’s four short verses of Scripture, coming close to the end of John’s Gospel account, teaches us again of the importance of personal Christian responsibility, and the error of criticizing another Christian’s ministry.

The Law of the Double Mention:  (Vs.22;23)  I have often referred to what has been called by many Christian teachers, ‘the law of the double mention’.  It is a belief that, If the Spirit of God - the true and Divine Author of God’s inspired Word - sees fit to make mention of some aspect of Scriptural belief or practice TWICE in the one verse, or in verses of close proximity, then He is actually flagging up the fact that there is a particular importance being taught by Him.  We do well to take special heed in such cases, brethren.

Thus, we get the double mention: ‘What is that to thee?’ in verses twenty-two and twenty-three.  Let us look at the significance God makes of this teaching.

After a most striking reversal of Peter’s former public denials of Christ Jesus, Peter, like many Christians today, seeks to turn Christ’s attention away from himself and his own fallibilities to enquire as to what Christ’s plans were for his fellow disciple John. ‘…Peter seeing him (John) saith to Jesus, Lord, and what shall this man do?’

In this manner, the repentant and forgiven Peter sought to focus Christ’s attention on another disciple; sought to deflect attention from himself and unto one of his fellow Christian believers.

How often do we latter day Christians practice a similar deflection of focus?  How often do we pray outwardly about the problems of other believers, while seeking to conceal our own sinful faults and failings?

“And why beholdest thou the mote (speck, or small particle) that is in thy brother’s eye, but considerest not the beam (large plank of wood) in thine own eye?”  (Matthew 7:3)

Yet, see the response the Lord Jesus gave to Peter’s attempt to deflect His attention unto the disciple John:  ‘If I will that he tarry till I come, what is that to thee?’

In other words, ‘Never mind what My will is for John, Peter!  Even if I ordain that John lives on until I return - it is no business of yours!’

The ‘law of the double-mention’ of this response clearly teaches us that we are not to focus our attention on how Christ is leading, directing, or using any other Christian believer - we are to focus daily, and continually, on what we ourselves are doing, saying, becoming involved in, in the service of Christ Jesus.  We are clearly instructed by the Word of God to, in the present day absence of Christ Jesus:  "…work out (our) own Salvation with fear and trembling."  (Philippians 2:12)  "...For every man shall bear his own burden…"

It is not our responsibility as to how another regenerate Christian is living their lives, or seeking to serve Christ Jesus; whether they wear a hat to church or not; whether they break bread daily, weekly, monthly, or not; what they believe concerning Christ’s Second Coming - or any other secondary doctrine or any other fully persuaded view of Scripture that they hold. 

But it IS our responsibility that all things be done decently and in order in the church, and that we, ourselves, are ‘…walking worthy…' of Christ Jesus.

Thought:  Let us, seek to build each other up positively in faith, not negatively criticise each other into discouragement.  We have all sinned!

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