You know those days when you just get so frustrated with people because of their sin or their doctrine that you just want to tell 'em like it is? Why do we do that to them, or to ourselves? We become impatient with their growth. We all do this from time to time. I have seen how easy it is to slip out of Christ and into the black robed seat with the gavel and become the judge and that happens the most when we are suffering at the hands of a persecutor. We say things like, "What kind of a Christian are they?", "Are they really a Christian?", or "We should tell them how wrong they really are!". People suffer from many types of persecution and sadly, many times it is at the hand of another Believer.
The Pharisees of Jesus' time is who we are today. The religious people, who think they have it right. We all have times of being a Pharisee. When you plant a sunflower seed in fertile soil and water it, it begins to germinate. Does that mean it's not a sunflower? It may not be a full grown sunflower, but the process has begun. When the green stem sprouts above the soil, we are quick to judge, "You're not a sunflower, you don't even have leaves!" When the stem grows leaves we judge, "You're not a real sunflower, you don't have petals. What kind of a sunflower are you anyway?" Then the stem with leaves buds and grows beautiful yellow flowers and we judge, "You don't really love the sun, you don't even have seeds yet." It has been a sunflower from the beginning and we are not to judge prematurely.
When we get our eyes off Jesus, we begin to look at one another. When our focus is on each other, we see sin and justify our feelings of judgment by our own self-righteousness. When we face the Son, then when his Light shines on the life of the believer they will see their sin and Holy Spirit will bring them to repentance, and we will still be facing the Son. As we keep our eyes on Jesus, we won't be so consumed with trying to clean our fellow brethren by assuming the position of Holy Spirit in their lives. It's not up to us to put a spotlight on their sin, then initiate the laser beam to burn their sin out of them. This is not our responsibility nor is it an opportunity from God to fix their lives. We are not each others savior.
This message is just as much for me as anyone else. In these years of increasing persecution we need to make sure we understand this. The enemy will use other Christians to hurt one another, and God will allow it. If God only chose the world to persecute us, why would we care? It wouldn't matter to us if it was the world that hated us, we expect that. However, we don't expect our very loved ones to hate us, so it cuts and wounds us deeply. But we must remember what His Majesty King Jesus said, "Pray for them which despitefully use you and persecute you." It is during persecution that the enemy wants us to be distracted by anger and reject the persecutors, but it's precisely when God has put us in the position to enter intercessory prayer for them and see the hand of God Almighty do His work in them as well as in us.
No matter how much it hurts, we need to remember how much it hurt Jesus as they beat him, mocked him, and nailed him to the cross, when he said, "Father, forgive them for they know not what they do." Even those days were Father filtered and He turned it around for good. He took Judas and allowed him to be used by Satan to turn in our Lord Jesus, but it was through the death of Christ our Lord that we have eternal salvation. But how many of us look at the life of Judas and rejoice how God used Him to give us such a valuable gift? Judas thought he was making the right decision, as do most persecutors. They think they are right, but there comes a time when they realize the truth. Sadly, Judas reacted to the truth with shame for what he had done , but God is always willing to receive us when we repent and come to him in humility. The enemy twisted the truth, in Judas' mind, into condemnation. That condemnation caused Judas to take his own life. We must pray for those who persecute. We could be standing in the gap between the condemnation of the enemy and the forgiveness of Christ our Lord, on behalf of the soul caught in the middle.
We are told by Christ our Lord to rejoice when we are persecuted, that we are blessed for suffering for His name's sake. Persecution comes to those who are in Christ, not because they are doing wrong and the righteous seek to condemn them for their sin, and it's not because they are perfect and the persecutors are necessarily evil. The enemy knows how to twist the minds of the Christians when they aren't facing the Son. When our focus is on each other he causes us to see ugliness in each other, even in the most 'godly' of Christians. We must keep our focus on Christ our Lord. Surround yourself with a multitude of counselors, there is safety among those who are in Christ. Be sure those counselors are people who don't focus on the sin of your persecutors, but instead they help you keep your focus on Christ in the middle of the battle.