Vintage message from April 13, 1997.
What is it in our lives that causes us to grow in character and strength? It’s the manure that’s packed around us in life; the stinky, hard things of life; the things that we don’t want to happen to us; the things that we look up to God and say, ‘God, what could You have been thinking to allow this to happen to me?’ And we do that. And we get angry and we get frustrated because life is hard and tough and we don’t want the manure packed around us. But you know what? Fruit is not going to grow, the Holy Spirit is not able to use you unless He can build that character in you, and it comes from that manure. It comes from the hardness and the stinky-ness of life that He has thrust us into.
We are only looking at each other to see and to help and to be part of the growth of fruit. That’s how we judge, why we judge, and what God has asked us to judge. Nothing else. He judges the person’s heart. He judges the person’s life. He’s the One that judges and, if need be, condemns. We have nothing to do with the condemning process. Unfortunately, many Christians do try to take that role away from God and play the judge and condemn people for what they’ve done and who they are, but we in no way are supposed to bring ourselves to the place of condemning anyone. We’re to bring ourselves to the place of loving and forgiving and working with and see the fruit begin to grow in their lives. And, if no fruit is ever displayed at the end of their life, that’s between them and God. God’s the One Who will say to a person, ‘You are or you are not a believer.’ It’s not up to me.
Now, of course, I have to look into my own life, and if I say, ‘Lord, yes, I want You in my life,’ and I’m telling people that, yes, I have invited Jesus Christ into my life, I want people to see the fruit. And if I am not displaying the fruit, if I am not showing within my own life the fruit, then when I stand before God, He’s the One that’s going to tell me. Even though all of you may stand around and say, ‘Dave, that wasn’t a very Christian thing to do,’ it doesn’t matter. Ultimately, I’m responsible before God, and He’s the One who will judge me and condemn me, if need be, or love me and forgive me…
We are responsible to God’s Word. If we do not study God’s Word, we have no clue what to believe. We have no clue whether or not what people are telling us is true and, in fact, when we do not know God’s Word…we only become argumentative. Instead of being able to simply explain and love people because of God’s Word, we become argumentative. We start fights. We divide the church. We find ourselves as being people with no character or bad character…But what I want you to know, if you’ve learned nothing else today from anything I’ve said, you are responsible to search God’s Word, to know why you live the life you live, to know what that life is that God wants you to live. You are responsible. We need to be like the Bereans. We need to live our lives studying God’s Word.