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Tuesday, June 9, 2015

Faith and Judgment



“Don’t judge me,” we command.  We are offended when someone tells us we’re wrong – who are they to judge?  They make mistakes, too.  Nobody’s perfect.  If I slip up sometimes, at least I’m not a murderer.

“Don’t judge me,” we implore.  We really mean: “I’m going to reveal something very human about myself.  It’s ugly and alarming; keep an open mind.”

We want to be accepted despite our human nature to look bad once in a while.

When we uncover our real side to others, we have faith that they won’t judge, or we might have faith that their judgments won’t touch us.  We might act and run.  We do or say things that may be less loving and caring, and hope that others will forgive us, will have grace.  We preface a less-than-stellar behavior with the words “don’t judge,” and hope that they don’t.  Or we act and call blame on those who do judge us – who made them boss?

Why do we do this?  Why not sweep all that dirt under the rug and pretend we haven’t done anything wrong? Why not just try to keep it out of sight?

Well, we do this, too.

Not one of us is perfect.  We might put on a good show, and shine up our best parts for public viewing.  We might only say godly things on the outside, but our inner dialogue is riddled with evil thoughts.  We might serve others on Sundays, and hoard time, love and attention for ourselves the rest of the week.  Or we might read God’s word for the purpose of judging others in his name, exposing someone else’s sins while keeping our own sins safely squirreled away.

When my kids argue, it’s usually about something the other one did or said.  Their tattling goes back to when they were old enough to interact.  The youngest tearfully flung herself into my arms when her big brother took a toy she was playing with; the older one complained that yesterday his sister got away with the very thing he got into trouble for today.  Neither is better or worse than the other, and my judgments about their behavior are woefully inconsistent.  Contrary to common belief, mothers don’t have eyes in the backs of their heads. 

I tried to correct their behavior by teaching them the difference between tattling and telling: tattling is when you want to get someone into trouble; telling is when you want to keep someone from getting into trouble. 

It’s a hard lesson to learn; most of us failed it as children, never to relearn it.  When we point fingers at someone else’s behavior, we’re just like children who tattle.  I am guilty of this.  Likely you are, too.  Maturity doesn’t come automatically with adulthood.

Jesus said he came into the world not to judge, but to save the world.  So who are we to judge others?  God knows our very breath.  Nothing gets by him; not a speck of dirt swept under the rug is away from his view.  He does have eyes in the back of his head, and he knows the sins that we see.  He even sees the ones we don’t see.

Our energies can be better used on pursuing not judgments, but truth – that which God gave us.  In the end, we will all be judged by whether we have accepted God’s word.  Have we been faithful and believed in his whole truth, that Jesus came and died for our sins?  Have we laid down our lives at the altar of Jesus’ cross?  What does that even mean?  Have we figured that out for ourselves?

How much are we holding back from God, in the hope that he won’t notice our sin?  He wants our very soul to sing his praises; how can we be free to do this when we are so intent on hiding it from him, from others?

I pray that in the end, my judgment will be one of faithfulness and devotion to God’s word, that although I sin and struggle, God can count me as a faithful servant.

Dear Lord, I pray that my faith and devotion to your word pleases you.  Give me the wisdom and desire to know you more.  Thank you, Amen.

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4 comments:

  1. I love your distinction between tattling and telling - so useful to help distinguish between judging and discerning, being judgmental and gently correcting. Thank you for this!

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    1. Thank you, and you're welcome! I can't take credit for the tattling vs telling difference - I read in a parenting book or article, and it always stuck with me. Putting it into practice is a whole other thing... :)

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  2. So this specifically says we are not to judge nonbelievers, and that is true. In terms of fellow Christians, I think the word "judge" gets a bad rap. I'm speaking to this from side of getting told the truth by friends who discerned a time when I was in jeopardy. My own poor judgment could not see the issue - but they could, so they shared in love. After dealing with that, God brought up to them some unChristian behavior in myself, and using the Bible, one dear friend confronted me. I'd love to say it was smooth sailing, but it wasn't - still isn't -with this friend, on my side at least. But her feelings needed to be made known because (unbeknowst to me) they were eating away at our friendship. This is probably one of the hardest things I've ever gone through, but if we can't show our Christian brothers & sisters in love where they err, we are not being a good friend. And, to be clear, there is a way to do this and a way NOT to do this.

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    1. What a tough situation! It is uncomfortable to be admonished by a friend, and to admonish a friend can be just as tough. I do believe it is our responsibility to call out a Christian friend on behavior that we think might be harmful to their life and faith. I do not believe it's our responsibility to point and whisper about someone who we don't know well when we observe their behavior to be different than ours. Thank you so much for sharing this difficulty in your life.

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