“Permit no man to define your purpose.”
That is the phrase that kept rolling around in my heart and mind one recent evening. I quickly wrote it down and meditated upon it.
As Christians, we have each been purchased by the blood of Christ. (1 Cor. 6:20)
Our life is not our own, but now belongs to the eternal purposes of God. (1 Cor. 6:19)
may will judge you and critique you.
Some will even insult and revile you. But all those who would live godly lives should expect to be persecuted. (2 Timothy 3:12)
But no matter the hostility that we may encounter and endure in our brief span on this earth, no man should ever surrender his God-given purpose into the hands of another. After all, no one except God possesses the power of perceiving and interpreting your unique makeup. Deep down, we all know this is true.
Man’s ability to judge others is deeply flawed and extremely limited.
In His infinite wisdom, Jesus warns His followers to avoid adopting a judgmental or critical spirit towards others:
“Do not judge so that you will not be judged. For in the way you judge, you will be judged; and by your standard of measure, it will be measured to you.” (Matthew 7:1-2)
Jesus then clarifies His command by way of an illustration:
“Why do you look at the speck that is in your brother’s eye, but do not notice the log that is in your own eye? Or how can you say to your brother, ‘Let me take the speck out of your eye, and behold, the log is in your own eye?’ You hypocrite, first take the log out of your own eye, and then you will see clearly to take the speck out of your brother’s eye.” (Matthew 7:3-5)
It should be clear that Christ expects His followers to focus more on our relationship to Him and less on finding fault in others.
Jesus clearly warns hypocrites to drop their self-righteous pretensions.
How many today are obsessed with cleaning the outside of the cup while leaving the inside filthy and untouched?
It would be an error, however, to assume Christ intended for his followers to disregard godly discernment.
Quite the contrary.
When the Pharisees condemned Jesus for healing a man on the Sabbath, He rebuked them saying: “Do not judge according to appearance, but judge with righteous judgment.” (John 7:24)
In order for followers to Christ to effectively serve God, they must be able to judge others righteously.
In Matthew 18:15-17, Jesus provides the template for righteously judging others.
“If your brother sins, go and show him his fault in private; if he listens to you, you have won your brother. But if he does not listen [to you], take one or two more with you, so that BY THE MOUTH OF TWO OR THREE WITNESSES EVERY FACT MAY BE CONFIRMED. If he refuses to listen to them, tell it to the church; and if he refuses to listen even to the church, let him be to you as a Gentile and a tax collector.”
The Apostle James later confirms this command:
“Do not speak against one another, brethren. He who speaks against a brother or judges his brother, speaks against the law and judges the law; but if you judge the law, you are not a doer of the law but a judge of it. There is only one Lawgiver and Judge, the One who is able to save and to destroy; but who are you who judge your neighbor?” (James 4:11,12)
In this passage, James explains that God alone is mankind’s ultimate Judge. It is He alone that understands the ultimate purpose of your unique characteristics and talents.
Even those closest to us only see a fleeting glimpse of our innermost complexities.
We who have been “bought with a price” know that our souls and our destinies are God’s exclusive territory.
Jesus warned His disciple not to “fear those who kill the body but are unable to kill the soul.”
Instead, Christ tells us to “fear Him who is able to destroy both soul and body in hell.” (Matt. 10:28)
A life spent attempting to please people is nearly as fruitful as one spent in judging them.
It is folly to seek eternal answers from finite sources.
Permit no man to define your God-given purpose.
And likewise, don’t waste your time trying to define the purpose of others.
Work out your own salvation with fear and trembling.
How much more unified the Body of Christ would be if we could understand these simple precepts!