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South Shore Sermon Series: 2002

Let Both Grow Together

By Bernie Parsons May 15, 2002

South Shore church of Christ

We are not all the same in this world, and that’s a fact. God did not make us all exactly alike, although we are made in God’s image. Yet, some of us have trouble accepting that.

Genesis 1:26: "And God said, Let us make man in our image, after our likeness..."

I am convinced that God knew what He was doing when He made man the way He did. We are all made in God’s image, yet He did not make us all carbon copies of one another. He makes all of us similar in fashion, yet each person is unique.

Each has a slightly difference appearance, and each has a distinct personality. God even blesses us with different abilities, and different strengths and weaknesses. God made humans to be social creatures, interacting with one another. As Christians, must deal with our families, neighbors, and fellow workers who are not Christians. Jesus noted this when He prayed for his disciples.

John 17: 11: "And now I am no more in the world, but these are in the world, and I come to thee. Holy Father, keep through thine own name those whom thou hast given me, that they may be one, as we are.

12: While I was with them in the world, I kept them in thy name: those that thou gavest me I have kept, and none of them is lost, but the son of perdition; that the scripture might be fulfilled.

13: And now come I to thee; and these things I speak in the world, that they might have my joy fulfilled in themselves.

14: I have given them thy word; and the world hath hated them, because they are not of the world, even as I am not of the world.

15: I pray not that thou shouldest take them out of the world, but that thou shouldest keep them from the evil.

16: They are not of the world, even as I am not of the world.

17: Sanctify them through thy truth: thy word is truth.

18: As thou hast sent me into the world, even so have I also sent them into the world."

We see that it is not God’s intention that we cut off contact with the world, but that we refrain from the evil that is in the world. This means that we find ourselves dealing with those of the world even as we despise their sins. Paul also noted this fact in his letter to the church at Corinth.

1 Corinthians 5: 9: "I wrote unto you in an epistle not to company with fornicators:

10: Yet not altogether with the fornicators of this world, or with the covetous, or extortioners, or with idolaters; for then must ye needs go out of the world."

God despises sin, but loves the souls of His creation, desiring that they return to Him.

2 Peter 3:9: "The Lord is not slack concerning his promise, as some men count slackness; but is longsuffering to us-ward, not willing that any should perish, but that all should come to repentance."

God tolerates the sinner, not because the sinner is right, but because God is waiting for the sinner to see the error of his ways, and to come back to Him. We tolerate the sinner, and associate with him, for the same reason. We do not wish the destruction of those in sin, for we were sinners, and realize that all have sinned and come short of God’s glory.

Romans 3: 21: "But now the righteousness of God without the law is manifested, being witnessed by the law and the prophets;

22: Even the righteousness of God which is by faith of Jesus Christ unto all and upon all them that believe: for there is no difference:

23: For all have sinned, and come short of the glory of God;"

We are set as a city on the hill, one that cannot be hidden, and the light on the candlestick, placed high in the middle of the room to give light to the whole room.

Matthew 5: 13: "Ye are the salt of the earth: but if the salt have lost his savour, wherewith shall it be salted? it is thenceforth good for nothing, but to be cast out, and to be trodden under foot of men.

14: Ye are the light of the world. A city that is set on an hill cannot be hid.

15: Neither do men light a candle, and put it under a bushel, but on a candlestick; and it giveth light unto all that are in the house.

16: Let your light so shine before men, that they may see your good works, and glorify your Father which is in heaven."

In order to let our lights shine into the world, we have to be amongst the world.

Matthew 9: 10: "And it came to pass, as Jesus sat at meat in the house, behold, many publicans and sinners came and sat down with him and his disciples.

11: And when the Pharisees saw it, they said unto his disciples, Why eateth your Master with publicans and sinners?

12: But when Jesus heard that, he said unto them, They that be whole need not a physician, but they that are sick.

13: But go ye and learn what that meaneth, I will have mercy, and not sacrifice: for I am not come to call the righteous, but sinners to repentance."

Philippians 2: 14: "Do all things without murmurings and disputings:

15: That ye may be blameless and harmless, the sons of God, without rebuke, in the midst of a crooked and perverse nation, among whom ye shine as lights in the world;

16: Holding forth the word of life; that I may rejoice in the day of Christ, that I have not run in vain, neither laboured in vain."

We must exist in the world in order to give light to the world. We salt the earth with righteousness. (Remember Genesis 18, and the impending destruction of Sodom, Gomorrah, and the plains’ citis?) We call to the world to depart from sin, to turn back to God.

Luke 9: 51: "And it came to pass, when the time was come that he should be received up, he stedfastly set his face to go to Jerusalem,

52: And sent messengers before his face: and they went, and entered into a village of the Samaritans, to make ready for him.

53: And they did not receive him, because his face was as though he would go to Jerusalem.

54: And when his disciples James and John saw this, they said, Lord, wilt thou that we command fire to come down from heaven, and consume them, even as Elias did?

55: But he turned, and rebuked them, and said, Ye know not what manner of spirit ye are of.

56: For the Son of man is not come to destroy men's lives, but to save them. And they went to another village."

Do you see how it works? Tolerance-or, if you prefer, longsuffering and patience-are attributes of God. Since we are to be holy as God is holy, then we should also be tolerant, or longsuffering toward those who are lost in sin. Our role is not to condemn and judge the world, for that is God’s role. Ours is a mission of salvation, not destruction.

Realizing this, we should now understand that we must also be longsuffering and patient toward our fellow Christians, especially those who are young in the faith, or underdeveloped through lack of spiritual exercise. The word tolerate comes from root words that mean to lift up, or sustain, or bear. The idea is to be patient with someone while bringing them to the truth, in view of improving their relationship with God. Thus, we find sound advice in the Apostle Paul’s writing in:

Romans 14: 1: "Him that is weak in the faith receive ye, but not to doubtful disputations.

2: For one believeth that he may eat all things: another, who is weak, eateth herbs.

3: Let not him that eateth despise him that eateth not; and let not him which eateth not judge him that eateth: for God hath received him.

4: Who art thou that judgest another man's servant? to his own master he standeth or falleth. Yea, he shall be holden up: for God is able to make him stand.

5: One man esteemeth one day above another: another esteemeth every day alike. Let every man be fully persuaded in his own mind.

6: He that regardeth the day, regardeth it unto the Lord; and he that regardeth not the day, to the Lord he doth not regard it. He that eateth, eateth to the Lord, for he giveth God thanks; and he that eateth not, to the Lord he eateth not, and giveth God thanks."

God is able to make a person stand, when you or I might consider that person fallen. It is dangerous for us to judge one another, a thing that we ought not be doing. Notice that both are acceptable to God, while the tendency of man is condemn one or the other-perhaps even both! Remember Monday night’s lesson? John Baptist was a wild man, and was rejected. Jesus was a tame man, and was rejected. Man can be fickle in his judgment! Aren’t you glad that an impartial judge is going to judge us in the end?

Notice in Romans 14:1-6 that two such instances were put forward: One man eats meat, while another eats only fruits and vegetables. That’s okay with God. One man gives special recognition to a particular day, while another considers every day the same. God is okay with that. Neither is wrong in the eyes of God, yet the two do not agree with one another. It is therefore possible to disagree, yet both be right in the eyes of God.

Romans 14:7: "For none of us liveth to himself, and no man dieth to himself.

8: For whether we live, we live unto the Lord; and whether we die, we die unto the Lord: whether we live therefore, or die, we are the Lord's.

9: For to this end Christ both died, and rose, and revived, that he might be Lord both of the dead and living."

You don’t own me, and I don’t own you. We both belong to the Lord.

Romans 14:10: "But why dost thou judge thy brother? or why dost thou set at nought thy brother? for we shall all stand before the judgment seat of Christ.

11: For it is written, As I live, saith the Lord, every knee shall bow to me, and every tongue shall confess to God.

12: So then every one of us shall give account of himself to God.

13: Let us not therefore judge one another any more: but judge this rather, that no man put a stumblingblock or an occasion to fall in his brother's way."

Maybe we know more than our brother or sister. Or maybe we just think that we do!

Romans 14:14: "I know, and am persuaded by the Lord Jesus, that there is nothing unclean of itself: but to him that esteemeth any thing to be unclean, to him it is unclean.

15: But if thy brother be grieved with thy meat, now walkest thou not charitably. Destroy not him with thy meat, for whom Christ died.

16: Let not then your good be evil spoken of:

17: For the kingdom of God is not meat and drink; but righteousness, and peace, and joy in the Holy Ghost."

The meat eater is right. The scriptures are plain that the earth is the Lord’s and the fullness thereof. But the Lord’s kingdom is righteousness, peace, and joy-not food.

Romans 14:18: "For he that in these things serveth Christ is acceptable to God, and approved of men.

19: Let us therefore follow after the things which make for peace, and things wherewith one may edify another.

20: For meat destroy not the work of God. All things indeed are pure; but it is evil for that man who eateth with offence.

21: It is good neither to eat flesh, nor to drink wine, nor any thing whereby thy brother stumbleth, or is offended, or is made weak.

22: Hast thou faith? have it to thyself before God. Happy is he that condemneth not himself in that thing which he alloweth.

23: And he that doubteth is damned if he eat, because he eateth not of faith: for whatsoever is not of faith is sin."

Understand that in the church there are folks at different levels of development. Some are newborns in the Spirit, some are babes-in-arms, some are toddlers, while still others are adolescents, young adults, mature adults, or elderly in the Spirit. This correlates to growth as humans.

We would not expect to feed table food to a newly born or small infant, nor would we feed chunks of beef to a small child. There is danger of choking, even death, from such feeding. This same danger exists when feeding the children of God. We must realize that there are things that you or I might not wish to allow, yet God does. If God doesn’t have a problem with it, why should we? Sometimes we just need to lighten up a bit!

At times we are too eager to address what we perceive to be the other person’s shortcomings, or faults. Jesus warned of this readiness to judge.

Luke 6: 36: "Be ye therefore merciful, as your Father also is merciful.

37: Judge not, and ye shall not be judged: condemn not, and ye shall not be condemned: forgive, and ye shall be forgiven:

38: Give, and it shall be given unto you; good measure, pressed down, and shaken together, and running over, shall men give into your bosom. For with the same measure that ye mete withal it shall be measured to you again.

39: And he spake a parable unto them, Can the blind lead the blind? shall they not both fall into the ditch?

40: The disciple is not above his master: but every one that is perfect shall be as his master.

41: And why beholdest thou the mote that is in thy brother's eye, but perceivest not the beam that is in thine own eye?

42: Either how canst thou say to thy brother, Brother, let me pull out the mote that is in thine eye, when thou thyself beholdest not the beam that is in thine own eye? Thou hypocrite, cast out first the beam out of thine own eye, and then shalt thou see clearly to pull out the mote that is in thy brother's eye."

I would not want a surgeon with poor vision operating on my eyes-would you? Yet sometimes those of us who have the worst vision are the very ones who want to take on the delicate task of clearing someone else’s spiritual eyesight.

Remember also the parable of the tares, or weeds, among the wheat.

Matthew 13: 24: "Another parable put he forth unto them, saying, The kingdom of heaven is likened unto a man which sowed good seed in his field:

25: But while men slept, his enemy came and sowed tares among the wheat, and went his way.

26: But when the blade was sprung up, and brought forth fruit, then appeared the tares also.

27: So the servants of the householder came and said unto him, Sir, didst not thou sow good seed in thy field? from whence then hath it tares?

28: He said unto them, An enemy hath done this. The servants said unto him, Wilt thou then that we go and gather them up?

29: But he said, Nay; lest while ye gather up the tares, ye root up also the wheat with them.

30: Let both grow together until the harvest: and in the time of harvest I will say to the reapers, Gather ye together first the tares, and bind them in bundles to burn them: but gather the wheat into my barn."

Matthew 13: 36: "Then Jesus sent the multitude away, and went into the house: and his disciples came unto him, saying, Declare unto us the parable of the tares of the field.

37: He answered and said unto them, He that soweth the good seed is the Son of man;

38: The field is the world; the good seed are the children of the kingdom; but the tares are the children of the wicked one;

39: The enemy that sowed them is the devil; the harvest is the end of the world; and the reapers are the angels.

40: As therefore the tares are gathered and burned in the fire; so shall it be in the end of this world.

41: The Son of man shall send forth his angels, and they shall gather out of his kingdom all things that offend, and them which do iniquity;

42: And shall cast them into a furnace of fire: there shall be wailing and gnashing of teeth.

43: Then shall the righteous shine forth as the sun in the kingdom of their Father. Who hath ears to hear, let him hear."

It can be harmful to remove the weeds from the crop, especially when the crop is young and tender. God did not give us the job of pulling the weeds-our job is to plant and water the seed. Jesus said to let both the weeds and the wheat grow together until harvest time, when the angels of God will do the weeding. Let’s do what the Lord said, okay?

Finally, notice what the Lord said to one of the churches in the Revelation to John.

Revelation 3: 1: "And unto the angel of the church in Sardis write; These things saith he that hath the seven Spirits of God, and the seven stars; I know thy works, that thou hast a name that thou livest, and art dead.

2: Be watchful, and strengthen the things which remain, that are ready to die: for I have not found thy works perfect before God.

3: Remember therefore how thou hast received and heard, and hold fast, and repent. If therefore thou shalt not watch, I will come on thee as a thief, and thou shalt not know what hour I will come upon thee.

4: Thou hast a few names even in Sardis which have not defiled their garments; and they shall walk with me in white: for they are worthy.

5: He that overcometh, the same shall be clothed in white raiment; and I will not blot out his name out of the book of life, but I will confess his name before my Father, and before his angels.

6: He that hath an ear, let him hear what the Spirit saith unto the churches."

Here we read that even among the dead church at Sardis, a few still walked with God-the faithful among the fallen, the obedient among the disobedient. The Lord did not even tell them to depart from amongst them, but merely told them to continue doing the right things, as they had been doing all along.

Brothers and sisters, I realize that there are certain grievous situations in which we must put brothers or sisters away from us for heinous sins. That should be the exception, not the rule. There’s something wrong when we look around and find fault with everyone else. Our responsibility to our brothers and sisters is to help them grow in Christ, to strengthen them, to support them, to assist them. This is the spirit of salvation, not destruction.

1 Corinthians 10:24 "Let no man seek his own, but every man another's wealth."

Galatians 6:1 "Brethren, if a man be overtaken in a fault, ye which are spiritual, restore such an one in the spirit of meekness; considering thyself, lest thou also be tempted.

2 Bear ye one another's burdens, and so fulfil the law of Christ.

3 For if a man think himself to be something, when he is nothing, he deceiveth himself.

4 But let every man prove his own work, and then shall he have rejoicing in himself alone, and not in another.

5 For every man shall bear his own burden."

Don’t you think that we have enough to do to take care of our own shortcomings? Be careful-we may think we are something, when actually we are nothing!

If you are here tonight and are not a Christian, then you are in the world, and the Lord is patiently waiting for you to return to Him. The light of God’s truth is shining on your heart tonight. Why don’t you accept the truth and turn back to the Lord while you still can? Come believing God, and His promises, and Jesus, and His authority. Repent of your sinful life, turn your heart and life over to God. Willingly confess Jesus as the begotten Son of God, our Lord and our Savior. We will assist you in baptism for the remission of your sins.

This puts you into the church of our Lord, and makes you right with God. We stand ready to assist you then as a newborn in Christ, to help you grow into full maturity in the Lord. Let us help you come to the Lord, tonight.

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