Weekly Thought – January 11, 2022
Fred served as a mentor to many young men he met during Religious Emphasis Weeks on Southern Baptist college campuses. These men created lifelong friendships with mutual benefit. As they grew Fred enjoyed experiencing their maturity. One of them was Howard Butt, businessman, philanthropist, and Christian evangelist. Howard encouraged Christians to be “fruit inspectors,” not judges of others. In this role he looked for fruit of the Spirit leaving the judging of salvation to God.
Intolerance has become society’s unforgivable sin. Tolerance is attractive to our society because it is permissive. It is pleasant because it doesn’t require hard thinking. It is non-confrontational. Our society has lost the willingness to confront error in search of truth. We have created a virtue out of weakness and bought into sin. As usual, sin gives the benefit first, and extracts the price later.
I am convinced the way in which society now practices tolerance is a manufactured value that, when practiced to excess, will ultimately prove harmful. This doesn’t mean we are called to be judges of others. Oswald Chambers tells us that we are not to see the wrong in others in order that we might criticize them, but that we might intercede for them.
When we accept tolerance as our rule, we deny discernment as a spiritual value and gift. Discernment is not given to us so we can criticize but so we can coach; it is not given to us to point out weakness, but to help build up strength and avoid error.
Howard Butt, Jr. founder of Laity Lodge and a lay minister, preached a great sermon in his early years, proclaiming Christians to be fruit inspectors rather than judges. We are told in scripture “By their fruit you will know them.” It is one thing to recognize fruit and a totally different thing to be a judge. Fruit inspection is our job; judging is God’s.
Our fruit inspection must always be according to the principles of Scripture. It is the authority under which both we and the person observed exist. When a man or woman holds up the Bible and says, “Thus says the Lord,” it is not pronouncing personal judgment, but God’s. When any of us do this we are the reporter, not the author.
Another reason for fruit inspection is that in seeing sin in others we see our own and seek correction. We are called to discernment, not tolerance. We are to lead with an attitude of self-assessment while examining the quality of fruit. Maturity leads us to a clearer understanding of the subtle differences in our attitudes. But tolerance is not an option for mature Christians.
This week think about: 1) How uncomfortable am I with Biblically based intolerance? 2) What standard am I using for fruit inspection in others and myself? 3) Who models discernment for me?
Words of Wisdom: “When a man or woman holds up the Bible and says, ‘Thus says the Lord,’ it is not pronouncing personal judgment, but God’s… we are the reporter, not the author.”
Wisdom from the Word: “So that you may live worthily of the Lord and please him in all respects – bearing fruit in every good deed, growing in the knowledge of God,” (Colossians 1:10 NET Bible)