One thing Jesus criticized the religious leaders of his day for was “neglecting the weightier matters of the law: judgment, mercy, and faith.” As Christians, we should be trying to learn what righteous judgment looks like.
As we learn judgment, we are often faced with a question of what matters most. In most scenarios, there is the very wrong thing to do, the technically right thing, and the best thing.
Sometimes our perspective blinds us, so we think we are doing the best thing when we aren’t. Maybe we are standing by an issue that is true or good, but we are not seeing the greater picture and we make poor judgment calls that hurt people. Maybe we are dealing with an issue we are blind to, so we don’t know what is right in the first place.
Let’s go back to what Jesus called important: judgment, mercy, and faith. Let’s also consider the commandment Jesus gave us: “this is my commandment: that you love one another, as I have loved you.”
If we have faith in Jesus, we should explore righteous judgment so that we can know what it really means to love others as Jesus loves us. In pursuing this, we will learn about mercy. We will also learn how to navigate difficult situations, even when dealing with a matter of what is technically right and what is best.
This can be applied to many issues for Christians. How do we apply this to Christian teachings? What matters most?
It’s easy to get hung up on one matter of doctrine or another. Some people are very focused on the sabbath day, or the rapture, or the nature of heaven and hell. Some become hung up on outward acts of righteousness, like the way we should dress or wear our hair. For others, the way we praise the Lord during our assemblies is an important matter.
There are all kinds of issues that Christians argue over. How many of these issues really matter? Of course all things have their place, but in the right order. No issue should be more important than helping others pursue Jesus more fully.
In many cases, what we are placing first in terms of importance is not in line with pursing Jesus or the commandment he gave: love one another. We might think it is. Especially if the issue we hold dear seems to be a matter of salvation.
In the end, if we put Jesus first, he will help us sort these issues out.
Jesus has to come first. He has to come before loyalty to our denominations, pastors, or affections for traditions within the faith. He has to come before the troubles and pleasures of this world. He has to come before our pride, our reputation, or other forms of self-love. If we put Jesus first and learn to love him, we cannot help but learn to love others too. That’s what he wants from us, after all.
If we love Jesus first — and by extension — our brothers and sisters in Christ, we will learn the righteous judgment we need to determine what matters most.
Take Christian doctrine, for example. What matters most? What issues affect our brethren the most? The gospel of the kingdom of heaven should be the primary focus at all times. Within the gospel there are enough issues for us to be dealing with right now. There are some dangerous misconceptions:
Many Christians believe that they can make a one time declaration of faith, go on to live without much regard for the kingdom of heaven, and still call themselves “saved.”
Many Christians view grace, the Lord’s forgiveness, and Christian liberty as cushion for living a sinful life.
Many Christians are taught that what God really wants for them is to live in worldly prosperity and to escape all suffering.
Many Christians are deterred from seeking the Holy Spirit and gifts of the Spirit.
Many Christians are not being fed the word properly, and they are not maturing as well as they could be.
Many Christians are in danger because we spend so much time arguing over petty matters, that we have forgotten what matters most.
If Jesus matters most, and the love for the brethren matters most, then where is there room to neglect the things of the kingdom of heaven? Where is there room to take for granted the sacrifice of the Lord that brings grace, forgiveness, and liberty? Where is there room to deny the Lord dwelling in our hearts through the Spirit, thereby bringing us gifts that makes us more profitable for the kingdom of heaven?
Jesus has to matter most. If we are honest with ourselves, Jesus might not always matter most. We are self-serving by nature. We also tend to look to man by nature. We want to fit in with the crowd. We want to prosper in this world. We don’t want pesky righteousness to get in the way of our pleasures, in one regard or another. We want to look up to those exalted figures within the faith, or even government and pop culture.
God’s people have always done these things. They have always grumbled, coveted things of this world, and looked to the leaders of the world for guidance. It should not be so. If we have these problems, now is a good time to get honest with ourselves and with Jesus. Now is a good time to get our priorities straight, while we still can.
Being aware is important, but losing hope will do us no good. Jesus will not allow any who sincerely belong to him go astray for long. He will cause us to love him most, and he will teach us what that means. We will learn righteous judgment, mercy, and faith.
There is no reason for all of the division among believers, aside from the purposes of God. However, His purposes do not negate our responsibility. If we know better, if we know that something is not right, then we should do our best to do something about it. Why? Because we love Jesus and what he stands for. We love the brethren.
Here is a comforting thought: The body of Christ is not truly divided. It only seems to be. Therefore, on an individual level, we should keep something in mind. If we think that our group, church, or denomination is the one that has it all together, we are wrong. Point blank.
The body of Christ is not limited by the traditions of man. It is only contained by the gospel of the kingdom of heaven, with Jesus at the center and what it means to serve those who are one with Him.
We can all learn to love Jesus most. We can all learn to love others most. If we were perfect in these things, then we would not sin. Let’s keep learning to focus on what, and most importantly WHO matters most.
This article was promised to be written at the conclusion of What Happens When a Christian Dies? If you have a question, comment, or concern about the misconceptions about the gospel mentioned in this article, you can leave a reply below or email me.