Summary: All of us need to be concerned about our spiritual health at least as much as we are about our physical well-being
I don't know about you, but if I had a doctor like Dr. Kraft in this morning's skit, I would find a new physician too. Friends, very few people want to go to a doctor who lies to them. We want to know the truth, even if it is unpleasant, so we can maybe take some action to keep the bad news from becoming even worse news. Yet, when it comes to spiritual things, a lot of folks don't seem anxious to hear the truth. If someone tells us, "You are OK. You are a good person. If there is a heaven, I'm sure you will be there," we often think, "Hey, that sounds good to me," and we don't bother to check it out and see if what the person said is true. If a doctor said, "Your blood pressure is very high, 180/110. I want you to take this medication," it would be foolish to say, "What are you talking about? I'm not taking any pills. I'm just fine the way I am." Yet, if someone suggests to us that our soul may not be in such great shape, that God may not be pleased with our life, we often respond by saying, "What are you talking about? I'm not listening to you. I'm just fine the way I am."
Friends, I would suggest that all of us need to be concerned about our spiritual health at least as much as we are about our physical well-being. Today we are going to explore some very basic facts, three essential truths which most of us have heard before, but that we sometimes forget. My hope is that God would use His Word to help us see how we can find true spiritual health so that our soul, not just our body, can really be OK. Let's pause and pray that would happen.
Basic fact #1 is this: God alone is our judge. I want to read a Bible passage which I think is very interesting. It is 1 Corinthians 4:1-5. In recent weeks we have been exploring this Book and these verses tell us about the experience of the Apostle Paul on this topic. 1 Corinthians 4:1-5 So then, men ought to regard us as servants of Christ and as those entrusted with the secret things of God. Now it is required that those who have been given a trust must prove faithful. I care very little if I am judged by you or by any human court; indeed, I do not even judge myself. My conscience is clear, but that does not make me innocent. It is the Lord who judges me. Therefore judge nothing before the appointed time; wait till the Lord comes. He will bring to light what is hidden in darkness and will expose the motives of men's hearts. At that time each will receive his praise from God. God has given each of us an assignment. As an apostle, Paul had been given a special task by the Lord. It was his job to take the Gospel of Jesus Christ and present it to people all over the Roman Empire. He knew that God would judge him, evaluate his life, on the basis of whether or not he was faithful in doing what the Lord had called him to do. Now, none of us in this room have received the type of commission Paul did, but all of us have been called by God to live a certain way. The details vary for each of us, but the general outline is that we are to love God and love the people around us. Being kind to others in our family, being diligent in our responsibilities at work or school, reading the Bible, praying, giving money to those less fortunate than we are, going to church, these are all some ways that most of us have been called to express that love for God and for others. As I said, the specific details are different for each of us, but God has called everyone to live in a way that honors Him. That is our job.
How are we doing this? God alone is our judge. The grade He gives us is the only one that counts. That's why Paul says to the Corinthians, "I don't care what you or anyone else think about me and what I am doing. I'm only concerned about what God thinks. If He thinks I'm doing OK, then I am doing OK. The opinions of everyone else do not really matter." Now, that makes sense to many of us and it is a very freeing thought. We need to focus on pleasing only one person, God, and not worry about how we are going to please everyone. But, then Paul says something which is a little harder to swallow. 4:3b,4 ...I do not even judge myself. My conscience is clear, but that does not make me innocent. It is the Lord who judges me. The conscience is a very important tool, an important gift that God has given to every human being. Maybe someday we will do a more detailed study of "conscience" because it is a very fascinating topic. I suspect, though, that most of us have a bit too much confidence in our conscience. Many folks I know, anyway, figure that if they have a clear conscience, then whatever they are doing must be OK. People are often encouraged to simply follow their conscience, with the assumption that if everyone were to do that, things would work out well. Paul reminds us that our conscience is not infallible.