Christ Jesus blesses us to surmount the eight hurdle, judging another on our faith journey.

                                                                                                        James 4:11-17 

                                                                                   The Reverend Young Kuen Yoon, Pastor,                                

         Beloved, today is Christian Vocation Sunday and tomorrow is Labor Day. As a Christian each and every one of us must answer to the following questions. "What kind of vocation do I have? How am I faithful to my vocation for the public good and the glory of God? How often do I recognize the presence of God in my daily life?"

          Let me share with you recent stories about Chick-fil-A, an American fast food restaurant chain specializing in chicken sandwiches. Chick-fil-A is managed based on Biblical-Christian-Value. The company's official statement of corporate purpose says that the business exists "To glorify God by being a faithful steward of all that is entrusted to us. To have a positive influence on all who come in contact with Chick-fil-A." Currently Chick-fil-A has 1,614 restaurants in 39 states in America. Differently from other American fast food restaurant chains, Chick-fil-A has been closed for business on Sunday since 1946.  However, the company's sales and net profits have been increased every year.  Chick-fil-A has made about $5 million of donations to groups that oppose same sex-marriage. In June and July 2012, Chick-fil-A Chief Operations Officer  Dan Cathy made several public statements supporting what he believes to be "the traditional family," saying about same-sex marriage that those who "have the audacity to define what marriage is about" were "inviting God's judgment on our nation". In response, students at several colleges and universities worked to ban or remove the company's restaurants from their campuses. Several prominent politicians expressed disapproval. Boston Mayor Thomas Menino, and Chicago Alderman Proco "Joe" Moreno said they hoped to block franchise expansion into their areas. In response to the controversy, former Arkansas Governor Mike Huckabee initiated a Chick-fil-A Appreciation Day movement to counter a boycott of Chick-fil-A launched by same-sex marriage activists. More than 600,000 people RSVPed on Facebook for Huckabee's appreciation event. On August 1, Chick-fil-A restaurants experienced a large show of public support across the nation with the company reporting record-breaking sales. A consulting firm projected that the average Chick-fil-A restaurant increased sales by 29.9 percent and had 367 more customers than a typical Wednesday.

        Beloved, we always need not only to be faithful to our vocations in the world, but also to enjoy the privilege to serve our Church, the body of Christ Jesus as beloved children of God. It is because Christ Jesus Himself bore our sins in His body on the cross even though "He committed no sin, and no deceit was found in His mouth." (1 Peter 2:22-24). Except Him, no one can offer us the redeeming love in the world, in the past, at present and in the future. Is there anyone who died and was resurrected to save humans from their sins among the religion founders and saints? Only Christ Jesus, our one and only Savior, did that. Therefore, it is not a religious act to believe in Him, to accept Him as personal Savior, to walk with Him, but to enjoy eternal life and bliss. That is why we might face many troubles, hardships and sacrifices on our faith journey. But those are resources for our victories and triumphant joy whenever we walk with Christ Jesus, our Risen Savior. The higher a hurdle we face, the stronger faith and more triumphant joy we have.

        The Apostle James teaches us how to surmount the eighth hurdle, judging another, of the ten on our faith journey.

        In ancient time, there was a Persian king who had four sons. His four sons had friendly relations with each other, but acted on impulse. They criticized and judged people with one phase of their character. The king was worried about his sons' impetuosity. One day, the king had an idea to improve them and said, "I give each and every one of you a task. You have never seen a mango. It would be good for you to see what the tree is like.  You, my oldest son, go to other country to look at a mango and come back."  The first prince left on a trip in winter to look at a mango. As spring came, the second prince left on a trip for the same purpose; the third prince left in summer and the fourth prince in autumn. They came back from their trip. Finally, the king called them for a meeting and asked them to explain what a mango is like. The first prince answered, "Father, a mango is like a dead tree burned by fire." "No, a mango is a green beautiful tree," the second prince said. Then the third prince said, "A mango blossoms are beautiful flowers like roses." "A mango fruit is sweet like a pear," the fourth prince said. The king listen to his sons and commented, "All of you are right and correct, because you look at the mango in different season."             

        Humans are under an illusion that they know all things of another person and judge the person. The Talmud teaches, "Don't judge another unless you put your-self in another's place." In other words, we must be careful to judge another.  To show that we often overlook the real value of a person, product, or idea, note the definition of uranium which appeared in a 1945 dictionary. It defined uranium, now recognized as having tremendous value, as "a white, heavy, metallic substance that has no apparent value." A six-year-old boy came home from school one day with note from his teacher in which it was suggested that he be taken out of school, as he was "too stupid to learn." His name: Thomas Alva Edison.  The teacher couldn't see his potential capacities as a wonderful inventor for the future and judged him as a stupid.

        Humans see others' faults easily, but can't see their own faults. A Japanese Anecdote tells us, "Three men decided to perform the ascetic practice of absolute silence until midnight, when they would gaze at the harvest moon. One of them happened to say, 'It's difficult not to say anything at all!' The second man said, 'Aren't you speaking during the time of silence?' The third man said, 'I'm the only one who hasn't spoken yet.' The third man also broke the silence, but blames the other two men. The Apostle James strongly warns, "Brothers, do not slander one another." (v. 11). It is because we can easily judge another when we slander another. 

        What kind of result does it bring when we slander and judge another?

         1. I am damaged when I slander and judge another.

         For criticizing causes nervousness. David H. Pink, author of Release From Nervous Tension, wrote an article for the Coronet Magazine, in which he made a striking suggestion as to how we can overcome mental and emotional tensions. As a psychiatrist for the Veterans' Administration he was familiar with 10,000 case histories in this field. Thousands of people, who were mentally and emotionally "tied up" had asked Dr. Fink for some short, magic-button cure for nervousness. In his search for such a cure he studied two groups: the first group was made up of thousands of people who were suffering from mental and emotional disturbances: the second group contained only those, thousand of them, who were free from such tensions. Gradually one fact began to stand out: those who suffered from extreme tension had one trait in common―they were habitual faultfinders, constant critics of people and things around them. Whereas the men and women who were free of all tensions were the least faultfinding. It would seem that the habit of criticizing is a prelude or mark of the nervous, and of the mentally unbalanced.

          Carl Hilty (1833-1909), a Swiss philosopher, writer and lawyer, said, "It is very difficult for humans to make a right judgment on a person, because they should have a narrow-minded view within them-self. A wrong judgment on a person eats into the judge's heart painfully." The Apostle Paul teaches us the reason, "Therefore, anyone of you who judges is without excuse. For when you judge another, you condemn yourself, since you, the judge, do the same things." (Romans 2:1, CSB) Whenever I do wrong and judged another, my conscience smites me. Whenever I slander and judge another, I am severely damaged mentally and emotionally and conscientiously.

         2. I commit sin of usurping the throne of God when I slander and judge another. The Apostle James warns,

         "Whoever speaks evil against another or judges another, speaks evil against the law and judges the law; but if you judge the law, you are not a doer of the law but a judge. There is one lawgiver and judge who is able to save and to destroy. So who, then, are you to judge your neighbor?" (vv. 11, 12, NRSV) Humans have no ability to judge another rightly and fairly. For all are sinners in nature. Only God is our judge.  We slander and judge God if we slander and judge the person whom God loves. Even Jesus does not judge another. He declares, "I do not judge anyone who hears my words and does not keep them, for I came not to judge the world, but to save it." (John 12:47, NRSV) How can we judge another, especially brothers and sisters in Christ, our Church members?

        3. I should be judged by God when I slander and judge another.

        We always need to keep in our hearts the word in the text, "Who are you to judge your neighbor?" It is very dangerous for us to slander and judge another, because we show our naked weak points openly, not because we misunderstand another. Jesus warns us, "Do not judge, or you too will be judged. For in the same way you judge others, you will be judged, and with the measure you use, it will be measured to you. Why do you look at the speck of sawdust in your brother's eye and pay no attention to the plank in your own eyes?" (Matthew 7:1-3) The people who slander and judge another like to speak what people ought to do, but they don't do it. That is why the Apostle James defines,  "Anyone, then, who knows the right thing to do and fails to do it, commits sin." (v. 17). 

        How can we not slander and judge another?

        1. We should not be prejudiced against another.

        It is very difficult for us to cast away a prejudice. If we are prejudiced against a person, "He/she is a bad person," the person's words and acts are always bad in our eyes. Then we easily slander and judge the person with this and that. We even judge the person by quoting verses from the Bible. We should not use any verse in the Bible to judge another. For that is a sin. Slavers of the devil do that. Because the devil as a spiritual being knows about the Bible, he manipulates those who are prejudiced against another to judge with the Bible verses. That is not the work of the Holy Spirit, because they cannot bear the fruit of the Holy Spirit. We always consider the Bible as the word of God for our-self, meditate on it and practice it in our daily lives.  Psalm 1:1-2 tells us, "Happy are those who do not follow the advice of the wicked, or take the path that sinners tread, or sit in the seat of scoffers; but their delight is in the law of the LORD and on his law they meditate day and night." (Psalm 1:1-2)

        2. We should do our best to find merits of another.

        Williams Miller (1782-1849) said, "I found many beautiful aspects in persons who were criticized as bad, and many faults in persons who were respected as godly. That is why I don't judge any person as good or bad." A Sunday school teacher was examining her pupils after a series of lessons on God's omnipotence. She asked, "Is there anything God cannot do?" There was silence. Finally, one lad held up his hand. Disappointing that the lesson's point had been missed, the teacher asked resignedly, "Well, just what is it that God cannot do?" "Well," replied the boy, "He cannot please everybody."

        The Apostle Paul teaches us what aspect of a person we should find, "Finally, beloved, whatever is true, whatever is honorable, whatever is just, whatever is pure, whatever is pleasing, whatever is commendable, if there is any excellence and if there is anything worthy of praise, think about these things.......and the God of peace will be with you." (Philippians 4:8, 9, NRSV) 

        3. We should know that our life in the world is very short, and do our best to do good to another.

        The Apostle James teaches us, "Now listen, you who say, 'Today or tomorrow we will go to this or that city, spend a year there, carry on business and make money.' Why, you do not even know what will happen tomorrow. What is your life? You are a mist that appears for a little while and then vanishes." (vv.13-14). Our life in the world is like a mist. We don't know what will happen tomorrow. We don't know when Christ Jesus our Lord comes again or when we pass away.  That is why we should always be ready to meet the second coming Christ Jesus, God in heaven at any time. Our life is very short like a dot if we live 100 years in the world in comparison with eternal life. How ridiculous it is if we are proud of our good business! Nowadays how many people are suffering from worldwide depression in business? How large portion of the world economy is it if I have a huge fortune? "All such boasting Is evil," the text tells us. (v. 18).

        The Bible tells us, "Just as man is destined to die once, and after that to face judgment."(Hebrews 9:27); "Remember your creator in the days of your youth.......Fear God and keep his commandments, for this is the whole duty of man. For God will bring every deed into judgment, including every hidden thing, whether it is good or evil." (Ecclesiastes 12:1, 13-14). That is why the Apostle James teaches us, "Anyone, then, who knows the good he ought to do and doesn't do it, sins." (v. 17) That is why we have to make every effort to do good each other. The Apostle Paul encourages us, "Therefore, as we have opportunity, let us do good to all people, especially to those who belong to the family of believers." (Galatians 6:10). In other words, we need to serve our Church more and more and do good for our Church members first. That is for us to sow to please the Holy Spirit, and we will reap eternal life.

         Have a Happy Labor Day!

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