Friday, October 17, 2014

Don’t Judge Me

1 Corinthians 11:31-32 - If we were properly evaluating ourselves, we would not be judged, but when we are judged, we are disciplined by the Lord, so that we may not be condemned with the world.

“Do not judge me!” We hear it all the time. Pop singers who do perverted things on stage say it. Movie stars who get DUIs say it. Politicians who have affairs say it. Co-workers who show up to work with a hangover say it. Friends who have made a real mess of their lives say it. Sometimes, we say it ourselves when someone points out our obvious faults.

Our culture has become obsessed with the idea that no one should say that any particular action is wrong. For the most part, people have accepted the idea that no one should think negatively of another person for his or her behavior. Such negative thinking is considered judging. Judging has become the ultimate bad behavior. If anyone does point out that someone's behavior was in poor taste, or just plain wrong, the speaker is the one who is criticized, not the person who actually did wrong.

This may be an acceptable line of reasoning for our culture, but it ultimately leads to disaster. If everyone does what is right in their own eyes, society devolves into chaos. That is why God gave us rules to follow. But who gets to interpret what God says the rules are?

I grew up in a very rigid religious environment in which we categorized everyone's behavior as either good or bad. This was often done without really knowing the person’s heart or any of the details of the actions. In our quest for purity we separated ourselves from those who engaged in actions we deemed bad. Many people were hurt by our judgmental behavior. I no longer want to be the behavior police with some mandate to classify every behavior that anyone around me does as being right or wrong. I also do not want to watch friends ruin their lives because I am too cold-hearted to speak to them about issues they are struggling with. Some behavior is just plain wrong, and one does not have to be a religious fundamentalist to recognize that truth. Somewhere between the two extremes of never saying anything and always pointing out everything is the thin line that we should walk that shows care and concern without being judgmental.

Finding that thin line is a constant struggle. One thing that helps is to ask people questions about the things they do. By asking them questions about certain behaviors, instead of just telling them it is wrong, their own thinking is often stirred up. Sometimes they are able to rethink their own behavior and state their own need to change. This can lead to a redemptive conversation about Christ and forgiveness. Even if they do not recognize the behavior as bad, it still makes them think, and sometimes that is the best thing we can help people do.

Ultimately, God is the one who judges all of us, and He is the one who gets to decide what is good or bad behavior. Though many of our non-believing friends may not care what God thinks, it is our responsibility as Christians to help them get to that place. By asking questions that force them to rethink their behavior, we can move on to a place where we can share what God’s Word teaches. It may take several conversations, over a period of time, to get there, but we will eventually get there, without having to negatively judge others.

Lord, help us know how and when to say something to a friend about his or her behavior. Guard us from having a judgmental spirit but also remind us of the importance of holiness. Amen.

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This post is an excerpt from the book, The Heavenly Mundane: Daily Devotions from Ordinary Experiences. Filled with stories of how God spoke in big ways through small events, the book will encourage people to look for God in the mundane things of life. Great for both personal use and to give as a gift to friend, either the print version or the e-book version may be purchased at this link:
http://www.amazon.com/dp/B00MJ2UE4E

6 comments:

  1. Not to undermine the point of your post - we need to guard against taking the place of God - but I cannot help but laugh when I hear people with a decidedly secular worldview rail against "judgmental" Christians.

    Far from being non-judgmental, the world loves to judge others. I see it in academia (where I work) where criticism of homosexuality or radical feminism is an excellent way to earn for yourself the label "homophobe" or "misogynist", respectively. certain political leaders and journalists will label you "racist" if you disagree with a particular government policy.

    In fact, some government officials are no longer content merely to ostracize Christians by making public derogatory comments, which is what the world meas when it complains about "judging". In Houston there is a big scandal brewing because attorneys for the city are harassing Christian ministers by issuing subpoenas demanding they hand over "sermons dealing with homosexuality, gender identity, or Annise Parker (the city's openly lesbian mayor)". The subpoenas go so far as to demand that the ministers report any private communications they may have had with parishioners. The dispute arose because of efforts to put the city's draconian non-discrimination ordinance on the ballot where it might be repealed.

    By all means - we should show the love of Christ to those we encounter in our daily lives. But to me that also means standing up to the world and its hypocritical "non-judgmental" proclamations. Let's see if the world can live up to its own standards.

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    1. You'll get no argument from me on any of that. In fact, it might become the subject of a future blog post about judgment.

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  2. Mary Harwell SaylerOctober 17, 2014 at 4:58 PM

    Asking questions shows interest and clarifies info too. Thanks, Terry.

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