Taking exception with making exceptions

Many years ago, I worked as a fast-food manager. I didn’t make much money, but it was a great experience…err, an experience. I actually learned some lessons that have been very beneficial. To this day, I can still grill up a mean hamburger. Also, I learned a lot about leadership, people, and authority.

We were trained that the customer was always right. If a customer was a rude, belligerent, jerk, we still wanted his money. My job was to smile like I enjoyed being cussed over how many curly fries were in their combo meal, hopefully calm the customers down, and ultimately make them happy. Happy customers come back. Even if they were being dishonest and it cost the company a little money in the short term, it was worth keeping them happy and coming back.

One day we had an older lady stumble and break her glasses. She tripped over an item that we had left on the floor. Her family was nice, but they were obviously very upset. They asked for the restaurant to pay for half the cost of the glasses. I was the manager on duty. I hadn’t been able to contact my boss so I handled it the best that I could. I made a split second, unilateral decision. I opened the register and gave the money to the family.

My boss came in a little later in the day and I filled him in on the situation. I was expecting him to be grateful that I had diffused a potentially terrible situation. We had been sued for less. The customer had left happy. What more could he want from me?

I was a bit taken back by his reaction. I can’t tell you his exact words. (I don’t cuss.) After a heart to heart discussion, I left understanding that I had one job. My job was to ensure that as much money as possible was in the registers at the end of the night. One thing that I could never do was to take money out of the register for any reason. Any reason. Any reason. ANY REASON!!!

Now before this unplanned “training session,” I was aware that we didn’t give money to customers. I also knew the owner’s desire to make the customers happy. I thought because I knew the owner’s desire that I could make an exception to the rule. The problem was not with my decision. The problem was with me making it my decision. I did not have the authority to give away his money. It should have been his decision. He took exception to me making an exception.

What is the point?

As a Christian, I am commissioned by God to share His word. All I can do is share what He said. I know that it is not His will for any to perish, but this does not give me the right to assure salvation to those that have not kept His word. I can hope that He will make exceptions. There are certain situations that are not clearly defined in scripture. I do know that His judgment is just and His mercy is new everyday. On the other hand, only God gets to make the final judgment. It is not mine to make.

The scripture is very clear that we must obey the Lord.

Hebrews 5:9

And having been perfected, He became the author of eternal salvation to all who obey Him,

Confessing him as Lord has no value if we don’t allow Him to actually be the Lord of our lives.

Matthew 7:21

21 “Not everyone who says to Me, ‘Lord, Lord,’ shall enter the kingdom of heaven, but he who does the will of My Father in heaven.

The only way to know Jesus as your Savior is if you know Him as your Lord. He is the master. We must obey His commandments.

1 John 2:3

Now by this we know that we know Him, if we keep His commandments.

Christianity has become so watered down that Christians are offended when doctrine is discussed. If you try to understand and apply the commandments of Jesus and of the Word, you are called judgmental. You are a legalist if you expect Christians to sincerely attempt to obey the Word.

Arguments are made based on emotions. Arguments are made based on hypothetical situations. Arguments are made based on personal experiences. Finally the conclusion is reached: It is so judgmental not to acknowledge that all of these good and sincere people are saved.

Or is it?

If it isn’t our place to make eternal judgments, wouldn’t that include salvation? If God is the only one that can truly judge, why does it even matter if you or I think that someone made it or didn’t make it? I can’t condemn them. I can’t save them. My opinion has no weight in the matter.

John 12:47-48

47 And if anyone hears My words and does not believe, I do not judge him; for I did not come to judge the world but to save the world. 48 He who rejects Me, and does not receive My words, has that which judges him—the word that I have spoken will judge him in the last day.

The Word is the standard by which we will be judged. It tells us how to be saved. God called me to share this message, the message of full salvation. He did not call me to make judgments for those that try to get in a different way. He didn’t call me to make exceptions for those that did the best they could. The only authority that I have been given is the authority that comes with the proclamation of His word. I can tell you how to make it. You must believe and obey all of His commandments.

Q: What about the man that has never heard about Jesus? What about the child that has never heard a bible story?

A: I’m not heartless. I know what I want to say, but I can’t. You see that isn’t my department. All I can do is preach the word.

John 8:24

24 Therefore I said to you that you will die in your sins; for if you do not believe that I am He, you will die in your sins.”

Q: What about someone that believes but has never fully repented? He was trying to turn his life around. He was just working some things out. Surely God knows that he had good intentions. Right?

A: Well, God will have to judge that. I can’t make an exception. I can tell you what the word says.

Luke 13:3

I tell you, no; but unless you repent you will all likewise perish.

Q: What if someone loves Jesus but has never been baptized in His name? What if they can’t be baptized because of illness or incarceration?

A: Those are great questions. We will leave those in God’s hands. I can tell you what the Word says.

Mark 16:16

16 He who believes and is baptized will be saved…

Acts 2:38

38 Then Peter said unto them, Repent, and be baptized every one of you in the name of Jesus Christ for the remission of sins,

1 Peter 3:21

21 The like figure whereunto even baptism doth also now save us (not the putting away of the filth of the flesh, but the answer of a good conscience toward God,) by the resurrection of Jesus Christ:

Q: There is this guy. He has never received the Spirit, but he is so full of love and kindness. He is more Christ like than most Spirit filled Christians. Surely God won’t punish him.

A: He sounds like a great guy. Let me tell you what the word says.

John 3:5

Jesus answered, Verily, verily, I say unto thee, Except a man be born of water and of the Spirit, he cannot enter into the kingdom of God.

Romans 8:9

But ye are not in the flesh, but in the Spirit, if so be that the Spirit of God dwell in you. Now if any man have not the Spirit of Christ, he is none of his.

The questions could continue all day. The answer should always be the same. “Let me tell you what the Word says.” When asked to make a personal judgment, I don’t do it.

“Well I just feel like…”

“Oh yeah, that is an interesting feeling. What does the Word say about it?”

“Surely, under these circumstances…”

“I can see where you are coming from. Is that explained in the Word anywhere?”

Am I judgmental? Am I divisive? I hope not, but His word is a sharp sword and sometimes it will cut. Sometimes it reproves and rebukes. Sometimes our practices don’t line up with the example of the scriptures. If that is the case, we need to change our practices.  I don’t mean to make anyone uncomfortable. Truth just kind of does that sometimes.

Don’t take it personally when I can’t make exceptions. I wish I could, but He didn’t give me that authority.

Some say that this message is too exclusive, but I think it is completely inclusive.

Acts 2:38-39

38 Then Peter said unto them, Repent, and be baptized every one of you in the name of Jesus Christ for the remission of sins, and ye shall receive the gift of the Holy Ghost. 39 For the promise is unto you, and to your children, and to all that are afar off, even as many as the Lord our God shall call.

The message is the same for everyone. Everyone needs to repent and be baptized in Jesus name for the forgiveness of sins. The promise of the Holy Ghost is for all that are called of God.

He said it. How can it be wrong for me to repeat it?

In the end God will judge. in the mean time, I’ve got work to do declaring His word.