(Forgive me if this post reads more like a rant. I guess it’s a subject that hits close to home for me, so maybe more passion came out that usual.)
It’s a funny thing: whenever you set high standards for yourself, other people automatically assume you expect the same standards of them.
How do I know this? Personal experience. (smile)
But it’s a faulty assumption. My holding to a standard in no way condemns you. If God has convicted me in a particular area, that doesn’t mean I’m projecting that conviction onto you. It doesn’t mean I can’t be friends with you.
And, to wade into deeper waters, even if I hold to a principle which applies to all people (say, whether abortion is a moral wrong), that doesn’t mean I hate people who disagree with me. It doesn’t mean I don’t care about them or even that I won’t be friends with someone who flouts that principle.
The high standards God gives us in the Bible are for all His children.
So when the Lord reveals them to me, one by one, I intend to follow them as best I possibly can.
Did you catch that “one by one”? It takes time–a whole lifetime, probably, and then some–to discover every standard. I may find one principle today that you may not find until next year. That’s okay. You’ll find some before me, too. (If we keep looking, of course.)
It’s good to be patient with one another.
(You knew that was coming, right?) Suppose the Lord convicts me about, oh, say, making pure entertainment choices. And further suppose that the Lord lays a specific boundary on my heart, say, no movies rated over G. (This is purely hypothetical, mind you.)
Just because you don’t hold the same standard does not mean I should drop it. I can hold my standard without judging you. Even if I secretly think that all Christians should hold this standard, I am not necessarily judging you.
Granted, you don’t know my heart. I might be self-righteously condemning you as less spiritually astute. Or I might realize that I have just as far to go toward holiness as you, only in different areas, and I might never give another thought to it. You don’t know.
But if you ask me to see a PG movie with you, it’s okay for me to say, “Thank you so much for the invite, but I never see movies rated over G.”
Then it’s up to you how you take it.
This specific example is, I repeat, purely hypothetical, but the point remains.
Brothers and sisters, hold fast the standards God lays upon your hearts. Don’t be ashamed of them. If anyone asks why, then tell them. Otherwise, you may never need to speak. Just quietly, boldly shine. If your standard convicts someone, then may God use it to glorify Him.
And don’t automatically assume someone who holds a different standard is judging you. That standard may be so ingrained by now that they rarely think about it. (Believe me, it’s possible.) Don’t condemn them because you think they are condemning you when they have never said a word to indicate so.
Sometimes, it is okay to argue for a standard, even at the expense of losing friends. If you listen to the Holy Spirit, He’ll tell you when to speak and when to hush.
If the Lord ever blesses me with children, you can believe I’ll try to teach them the standards God has taught me. I “preach” standards to my younger sisters. I might even get specific with standards on this weblog because no one has to read it who doesn’t want to. But to my friends, I usually won’t speak unless they ask, in which case I’ll be happy to explain.
The Bible does tell us not to judge (Matthew 7:1), meaning do not condemn. After all, we’re not God. We have no authority to condemn. (Although, wouldn’t you rather be condemned by a person who has no real power than by the Almighty God? I digress.)
But the Bible also advocates clinging to the pure standards of Christ and striving daily to conform ourselves even more to His likeness.
Whether anyone else likes it or not.