He who is not with me is against me, and he who does not gather with me scatters.
There is a gentleness to grace or it would not be grace. The patience of the Lord is long and His anger is slow in coming. He is forgiving and kind, “showing love to a thousand generations of those who love [Him] and keep [His] commandments” (Exod. 20:6). He knows the reality of human weakness, “He knows how we are formed, he remembers that we are dust … From everlasting to everlasting the Lord’s love is with those who fear him, and his righteousness with their children’s children” (Psalm 103:14,17). We could not have a more understanding, patient, and loving God.
But though God understands our weaknesses, He still has called us to holiness – just as He is holy. Jesus spoke plainly about moral reality and consequences of actions. We are either part of the problem or part of the solution. As we walk with God in a deepening relationship we will increasingly take on His character and a growing desire to do His will. The crossroads in this journey are many, moments when we see that the calling of God runs in a different direction from the values of the world – the narrow way of righteousness versus the wide road of unrighteousness.
A cartoon this week caught my attention. It was a four part depiction of a mother and daughter and in the first frame the mother laughs when the baby daughter says a bad word and calls it “cute.” Then as the girl grows the mother teaches her daughter to shake her booty and to dress like the pop-stars. The final frame sees the teenage daughter pregnant and the mother weeping crying, “Where did I go wrong?”
Of course, someone who was raised in a home where Christian values were consistently taught and modeled can still rebel against these and make the wrong decisions. We should not judge anyone else, for we are incapable of knowing all the details of any life. Rather my point is to draw attention to the truth in the words of Christ: we either are gathering with Him or scattering against His purposes.
So which side are you on right now, at this very moment? Where is your heart? Is it being drawn to the side of Christ, to His purposes, to His purity, and to loving others like He loved? Or are you allowing the world to distract you, to tempt you, and to tear you down? To gather with Him means not only that we uphold a high moral standard, but that we also love others with redemptive love. A high moral standard without redemptive love creates little Pharisees.