Two convicting thoughts come from reading today’s offering from Tozer. The first one is from this passage:
“Why do you pass judgment on your brother? Or you, why do you despise your brother? For we will all stand before the judgment seat of God; for it is written, ‘As I live, says the Lord, every knee shall bow to me, and every tongue shall confess to God.’ So then each of us will give an account of himself to God.” (Romans 14:10–12)
God says I am not to form an opinion or evaluation of others. This could be a positive judgment, but the word in its context refers to a negative decision or evaluation that has punishment in mind. The word ‘despise’ is associated with this negative word and attitude and in the Greek language that word means to consider worthless.
In other words, I’m not to look at the worst in people and decide they are worthy of God’s wrath. These verses give the reason: eventually every knee will bow to God and every tongue will confess to Him. That is incredible. It does not say everyone will believe and be saved, but that everyone will acknowledge Him and their sin.
We are all in the same boat, saved or not. That is every person will give an account of himself / herself to God. No one is accountable to me and I have no right to consider anyone worthless. Rather, in the mind of Jesus I should be looking for positive qualities in others rather than pick them apart as if they are without value.
The second thought is from Tozer’s writing. He says self-deception can cultivate a religious joy apart from a righteous life. That is, I can seek to be happy rather than concentrating on holiness and even be happy without God. This is interesting. Tozer is right; holiness is from God alone. He works in my life to that end. However, I can work and reach the goal of happiness without any thought of God. He may be blessing me in unacknowledged ways — yet He is not getting the glory that belongs to Him. I am just happy.
Tozer suggests coming to a radical ‘understanding’ with God by telling Him that I want to be holy at any cost and not to give me more happiness than holiness. In other words, my joy needs to match my holiness. If joy is missing, something is wrong in my spiritual life.
I’ve sort of known this. The fruit of the Spirit includes joy and if joy is missing, then I’m operating in the flesh. When that happens, it isn’t merely neglect of God’s leading and power; He grants that easily and all the time — it is more about having unconfessed sin in my life. As soon as I bow before Him and confess, the fullness of the Spirit returns, bringing joy with it.
I can be joyful for many reasons. Last week’s numbers from a blood test were not good. The test was repeated on Monday and the results are much better. I am happy, as anyone would be. But this elation is different from the joy that was missing when I was worried about the results of the first test. The joy of the Lord is never about circumstances and it goes missing when I stop trusting God.
“The Lord is at hand; do not be anxious about anything, but in everything by prayer and supplication with thanksgiving let your requests be made known to God. And the peace of God, which surpasses all understanding, will guard your hearts and your minds in Christ Jesus.” (Philippians 4:6–7)
Jesus, I am thankful to You for improved test results, but must confess that anxious fear demonstrated my lack of trust. Faith is not about numbers and tests, but about acknowledging that You are with me and that You can give peace and joy that will guard my heart. You have shown me that I do not need good news to experience that peace. That is why You say it “surpasses all understanding” — it makes no sense at all — but along with faith and the power of Your Spirit, it is just there.