Right to Privacy

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My prayer for myself this day and everyday is to be clothed with the mantle of humility. I pray that God will help me esteem others higher than myself. I pray for a heart that loves others unconditionally. I pray to live in such a way that my words would draw others to Christ not push them further away.

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Matthew 7:1-5 NIV

“Do not judge, or you too will be judged.  For in the same way you judge others, you will be judged, and with the measure you use, it will be measured to you.  “Why do you look at the speck of sawdust in your brother’s eye and pay no attention to the plank in your own eye?  How can you say to your brother, ‘Let me take the speck out of your eye,’ when all the time there is a plank in your own eye?  You hypocrite, first take the plank out of your own eye, and then you will see clearly to remove the speck from your brother’s eye.

Matthew 7:1-5 we find this warning, “judge not, lest ye be judged”.    The verb is krino and literally means to decide what is right or wrong for someone else.  Here, Jesus says, it’s not for you to decide what is right or wrong for others.  He then goes on to illustrate personal responsibility with the example of the speck that is in another’s eye, compared to the beam that is in your own.  It’s a matter of perspective.  And if you have the proper perspective, your faults (the beam) should look much larger  than the faults of others (the speck).  And when you combine His instruction with the illustration He gives, you should conclude that it’s wrong to decide what’s right or wrong for others and it should be your priority to look for and deal with your own faults.

Somehow we are elevated if our imagery of self dwarfs someone else.

We are quick to excuse our own behavior by faults we find in someone else. It may look something like this, ” I’m not judging them, they need to be told.” Or,  maybe we take the responsibility of discipleship to a whole new level of micro managing. I have been guilty myself of comparing my walk to someone elses. I have been guilty of being absolutely sure that I was better than, more spiritual than , producing more fruits and than…. The trouble with that is God is not comparing me to them. He is comparing me to His son.  Jesus did did not come here to judge the world but to save it. There are basically two reasons why people compare themselves to others and both are wrong.  They compare themselves to those they think inferior in some way to make themselves look good.  Or, they compare themselves to those who seemingly are better off in some way, because they feel sorry for themselves.

Let’s look at the conversation between Jesus and Peter in John 21:15-23 following Jesus’ resurrection. In verse 18 Jesus tells Peter that when he was younger he took care of himself and went wherever he decided to go.  Then Jesus tells him that when he is older, he’ll stretch out his hands for help, another (the Holy Spirit) will take care of him and lead him where he will not want to go.  Verse 19 then tells us that Jesus was talking about the kind of death by which Peter would glorify God.  And Peter evidently understood this, because when he saw John following them he asked Jesus in verse 21, what is going to happen to him?  To which Jesus answers in verse 22 and repeats in verse 23, what is that to you?

Notice Jesus has repeatedly told Peter to “feed My lambs”, “feed My sheep”, “follow Me”.  God had a plan and purpose for Peter’s life.  At best, it would be difficult; at worst, it would be humanly impossible. And Jesus was telling him, Peter, it’s time to focus, concentrate on the business at hand, your business (what the Father has planned for you).  Never mind what’s going to happen to John, that doesn’t concern you.  The principle is the same for every one of us.  God has a plan and purpose for our lives, but we’ll never realize it by minding other people’s business.  We’ll only know it by concentrating on Him.

In Romans 14:4 Paul tells us that we’re not to judge (krino, again) another’s servant, because it is before his own master that he will either stand or fall.  This is a great statement. Romans 10:10-13 goes on to reiterate the point that it is not our responsibility to decide what’s right or wrong for someone else’s servant, their Master will decide. Their Master is Christ once a person accepts salvation.

Galations 5:1 says we have freedom in Christ.  In this context  the word “freedom” or “liberty” in some translations refers to the right of privacy that every believer has that allows him to pursue a relationship with God free of any interference, or constraints that others might try to put on him. Every one is supposed to have this freedom from the interference of others.

In II Thessalonians 3:11 Paul warns against being “disorderly”.  The word disorderly is (ataktos) meaning out of rank, and is used here to signify those who were out of line.  Or in otherwords they were busybodies (periergazomai), those who meddled in the affairs of others, instead of minding their own business as they had been taught was the proper thing to do. Paul mentions busybodies again in I Timothy 5:13. In this verse he warns against idlers, tattlers and busybodies.  In fact what he says is, don’t be one of those who find themselves with too much time on their hands.   They’re going to find themselves more involved in the affairs of others than they are their own (busybodies). They become one who is more interested in the supposed spiritual condition of others than they are their own spiritual condition.  They’re more concerned about the moral condition of others than they are their own moral condition, because morality is what their religion has taught them.  They don’t know what true spirituality really is… Your personal relationship with Jesus Christ and the change that takes place because of the indwelling of the Holy Spirit.

Galations 6:2-5 tells us that we must quietly endure one another’s faults and in this way we will fulfill the law of Christ.  The law of Christ is that we love one another.  And here, it is clear that Paul’s view of fulfilling this law demands the acceptance of those who exhibit failure. Judgment or isolation is not an option.  Verse 3 tells us that those who refuse this course do so because they think themselves superior to those who fail. This is certain self-deception, since we all fail from time to time and find ourselves in trouble. Verse 4, tells us that we must examine ourselves, take proper care to remedy our own faults and then we can feel good about ourselves without having to resort to unhealthy comparisons. Verse 5  tells us in conclusion that we all have to bear our own load of faults, that is, we simply have to take responsibility.

As is usually the case, Christ is our example.  John 8:1-11 shows us the principle that should guide us when we’re tempted (and we will be) to judge someone else’s seemingly wrong behavior.  This it is the account of the woman brought to Jesus after she was caught in the act of adultery.  Without going through a verse-by-verse explanation, let me just tell you the principle taught here is neutrality.  In regards to the woman and what she had done, Jesus was neutral.  He neither judged nor excused what she had done, evidenced by His statement “neither do I condemn you, go and sin no more”.

Jesus did not violate her right to privacy.  He did not judge her.  Nor did He feel the need to get personally involved, find out all the gory details and set Himself up as the expert ready and willing to give this poor woman all the counseling she would need to help her out of this mess.  Isn’t that amazing? He didn’t “minister” to her.  Instead, He stayed out of it and minded His own business.   In John 8 Jesus in His humanity was simply following this truth.  Did God have a plan and purpose for Jesus?  Certainly.  Did Jesus have to concentrate and keep Himself focused in order to understand and fulfill that plan?  Absolutely!  And regardless of what you think “church ministry” should look like, you find no evidence in the life of Jesus that the Father’s plan for Him included getting personally involved in the private affairs of others.  Yet this is a large part of what goes on today.

Who gave us the “Christian” responsibility to be moral policemen to those around them?  If the guilty one conforms they are only taught to yield to the interference of the one perceived to be above them. There is no spiritual value in the things we do because we were made to feel guilty through the judgment of others, manipulated by false authority, pressured into conforming to some religious standard, or counseled by men (or women) and guided into some kind of reformed behavior. 

It is the plan and purpose of God to  conform us from the inside out to the image of His Son.  But the only change God will recognize is that which comes as a result of our submission and obedience to Him.  Our own efforts to reform or forcing someone else into living according to my self-righteous standard is not acceptable to Him.

“He delivers us, not because of any self-righteous works that we have done, but because of His mercy.  And He does it through the cleansing of regeneration (change) by means of the renewing ministry of the Holy Spirit.” (Titus 3:5)

Why should we respect other’s rights to privacy?  It is because God is both the source and the agent for change.  Regardless of whether it is our religious training, our self-righteousness, deceitful perceptions of spiritual superiority or our genuine good intentions, any change that comes from our interference in the lives of others is merely the result of human effort and is worthless in the eyes of the God.

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