I asked my good friend, Clayton to post for me today. I needed a breather after the four part series and we haven’t heard from the “King” in a while.
Not Elvis, but Clayton!
Even better—just not the hair.
Anyway, Clayton asked if he could share something the Lord laid upon his heart a few weeks ago. He’d shared it on his own blog but most of my readers hadn’t seen it. I said, ‘anything you want to share, Clayton, is always the right thing to share. Go for it.’
So I will quit yammering and turn it over to Clayton.
Let me tell you a true story. It is about a pastor. He lives in a very large home. He drives a Corvette. He dresses in very nice suits. When he preaches, he has several guys at his church that make sure he has water to drink (he needs it because of the way he preaches), a towel to wipe the sweat from his head, and a soft chair to sit in when he is done.
If all you ever knew of this pastor was what you just read here, in this post, you would most likely form an opinion about him. While some would have no problem with what I have described, others would be quick to judge by saying he has no business living in an extravagant home or driving an expensive sports car or being catered to by volunteers on Sunday mornings. But the judgement passed on this man would be incomplete, inconclusive, and incorrect because it would be based on a limited knowledge and limited understanding of this man. You would only have a small fraction of that facts about this pastor; who he is, how he lives, how he gives, his generosity and personal qualities. My judgement of him would be wrong and sinful because it would be in direct contradiction to a direct command from Jesus.
Jesus said, in Matthew’s gospel, “Do not judge, or you too will be judged, because the same measure that you use against someone will be used against you.” We don’t judge people because we don’t know them. And the irony is that in calling people shallow, we oftentimes miss the glaring hypocrisy in our own shallowness: thinking that we are better than them based off of an impression we received and snap judgement of their character made from that impression. Indeed, who is more shallow?
What you would not know about that pastor, at first glance, might surprise you. The Corvette? It belongs to his wife. He bought it for her as a birthday present. The extremely large, nice home? Paid for! No debt whatsoever. His suits? Many of them are tailor made, and donated by tailors that want to bless him. And you may not like his suits because you might be white, but he is an African American pastor in a multi-cultural church with a long tradition of dressing in the finest as a way to honor God.
And by the way, he started his church from scratch…nearly 6 years ago…and he has NEVER MADE A SALARY. He does not take a dime from his church, never has. You see, this pastor played 10 years in the NFL and paid for his house and his vehicles and his clothes with his own money because he was blessed with athletic ability. And in the few hours I spent with him, he took no less that 8 phone calls from church members and parishioners dealing with drug addiction, sexual temptation, depression, and divorce. The people in his church love him because he is the under-shepherd of that flock, and he cares for and covers his people.
Would you have given this pastor the benefit of the doubt if all you knew was that he drove a red Corvette? Or would you have formulated a negative opinion of him based on what he was driving? That is why Jesus told us not to be so high and mighty in passing judgement on our sisters and brothers. We NEVER know the whole story. And since we don’t, we can feel comfortable leaving the judging business in the hands of the only One in the universe qualified for it.
So let’s obey Christ instead of acting like Pharisees and let’s give our sisters and brothers, whoever they are, the benefit of the doubt instead of rushing to assume the worst. You would want someone to do that for you, and those of us (like me) who struggle with jumping to conclusions based on inconclusive evidence would be the first ones to cry “foul” if somebody did it to us. So I will extend the same courtesy to others that I would want them to extend to me.
The pastor with the Corvette is a man of God, tenderhearted and generous, who gives his life (and his wealth) away to his people. It is a shame that if some of us were to meet him on the street, we would be so quick to judge him that we would never take the time to see what an amazing Christian gentleman he really is.
Don’t judge. Because you don’t know.
* On another note, I am looking for someone from Southbrook who knows someone on that US Airways flight that crashed yesterday. I want to interview them in the service this weekend as we wrap up our talk on angels.