Misplaced Sentiment

“Then Peter took Him aside and began to rebuke Him, saying, ‘Far be it from You, Lord; this shall not happen to You!’”

Matthew 16:22

In the following verse Jesus attributes these words of Peter as having their source in Satan. This same Peter had just spoken words that had their source in the Father (vv 16, 17). This is an indication of what happens when we allow sentiment to overshadow the words of Jesus and the plan of God. Sentiment is a good attribute but like all good things it can be expressed wrongly.

Many people are expressing this kind of sentiment when they advocate euthanasia. From a sentimental and a godless world view this seems logical. The value of every human life is seen in John 3:16, “For God so loved the world that He gave His only begotten Son, that whoever believes in Him should not perish but have everlasting life.” Our value is in the love God has for us. Man was created in God’s image to live forever.

For the one without Christ bodily death is the beginning of eternal suffering, not relief from suffering. Those who choose euthanasia are in for a catastrophic disappointment. End of life suffering may be the motivation for many lost people to turn to Christ at the last minute.

John 3:18

tells us that people who are condemned to an eternity of God’s wrath are those who have not believed the Gospel of Christ. It tells us that condemnation does not begin at death or the judgment; they are already condemned and waiting for the sentence to be carried out. The reason they are condemned is not because they told a lie, robbed a bank or murdered someone. It is because they have not believed on the name of the only begotten Son of God. As long as they live that Door is open if they will enter it (John 10:7-8).

We must be careful not to make ourselves judges of God through our exercise of sentiment. Is God good? Is God kind? Is God love? Is God just and righteous? Is God Holy? The answer to all of these is, Yes, and He is always exercising these attributes. The world without God comes to the conclusion there is no God of love because of all the suffering in the world. Let us not be among them lest we find ourselves joining them in calling God unloving. Sin’s origin is in Satan and man not God. God, in love, provided redemption (Romans 5:6, 8).

The Pendulum Swings

“Remove the plank from your own eye, and then you will see clearly to remove the speck from your brother’s eye.” (Matthew 7:4)

In many things in life we have a tendency to move to either one extreme or the other like the pendulum of a clock. Always overcompensating we appear unstable or even hypocritical but it need not be so. I managed to roll a car in my youth by overcorrecting the steering in deep, loose gravel but I obviously didn’t need to do so. In the Christian life we are also in danger of wrecking our witness for Jesus Christ by going too far one way or the other.

When Jesus said, “Judge not” He surely did not mean that we should not be discerning or that would make a mockery of much of His own and Paul’s writings in the New Testament. It would even contradict what He said at the same time as quoted above.

The issue is that we should not be hypocritical in our judgments of others. In this we see that the issue is not the exercise of looking on another but the reason for so doing. The Pharisees judged Jesus to be unworthy and themselves to be worthy. They did this for their own glory and to retain their position of power and influence in the nation. To make themselves look better they tried to make Him look bad.

Motive is the key point. Am I looking on another in order to help them (brotherly love) or to make me feel better about myself (self-centred – brotherly hatred)? We have the freedom of choice but Jesus warns that whatever our motive it will return to us in kind (Matthew 7:2). Kind begets kind- God’s Law!