The cutting edge

“Do not be conceited, but fear; for if God did not spare the natural branches, He will not spare you, either. Behold then the kindness and severity of God; to those who fell, severity, but to you, God’s kindness, if you continue in His kindness; otherwise you also will be cut off” (Romans 11:20-22, NASB).

The new tree has been planted. The limbs of the peach tree have been pruned, and as it becomes even less productive, the new tree will grow three feet away and fill in the void.

I am acquainted with a wonderful person who is generous to a fault, and seems to genuinely love people and love God.

I almost added, “someone who fears God” in describing her, but after thinking a few moments I realized that I do not know this for sure.

It is quite possible that my puzzlement stems from her stopping short of truly fearing God. Can one love God, but not fear him? Let me clarify that we are discussing biblical fear of God, the kind that causes respect for God, and a desire to do his will. This is the kind of fear that makes one unwilling to do anything that has even a hint of displeasing the holy and magnificent creator of the universe.

This aforementioned friend, who is known by her positive outlook, made some negative comments on social media lately. Here they are:

“Bible thumpers, can we please stop this crazy behavior of posting scriptures and verbally attacking others? Please.

“Let’s all get off the moral high ground.

“Just saw a plethora of “I don’t hate the sinner, I hate the sin” quotes regarding a marriage license application. Well bless your heart. Thank you for all the comments and judgements , as you damned souls to hell. You can feel the hate coming through many of the scriptures and comments posted. It is tangible.

“My goodness, stop all the hate.”

I was not privy to the comments she saw. But is it possible that the people whose hate seemed tangible were simply sounding a warning cry for people who will ultimately be judged by the Righteous Judge? While it isn’t anyone’s place to damn others to Hell, if we love one another, we would do whatever we can to avoid letting our neighbors go there.

This good lady surely doesn’t mean for people to ignore their “moral high ground” altogether. It is probably a plea to focus on the “love the sinner” piece.

The words that were most alarming is that she could “feel the hate coming through many of the scriptures and comments posted.” I don’t ever want to feel hate coming through scriptures! While it’s never right to use the Bible as a weapon for our own hate, the scriptures themselves are ultimately about the greatest love. However, they should and do cause pain occasionally. (Hebrews 4:12, Acts 2:37, Acts 7:54.)

Yes, Jesus preached and demonstrated the highest form of love. He is then described as a judge in Revelation. Jesus even told others to “judge righteous judgment” (John 7:24).

God is not only a loving father, but a righteous judge. Knowing and telling about the judgment to come is not hatefulness, but real love.

It’s a matter of good judgment to prune your trees if you love your garden.

“The conclusion, when all has been heard, is: fear God and keep His commandments, because this applies to every person. For God will bring every act to judgment, everything which is hidden, whether it is good or evil” (Ecclesiastes 12:13,14).

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