It seems that the one unpardonable sin in our current culture is judgment. Having grown up in a fairly judgmental religious system, I can understand why it is such a powerful negative influence on our thinking processes. But lately it seems that our culture has allowed our fear of being judged to become an excuse for continuing poor behavior, which ultimately leads to us being justly judged by those who recognize our poor behavior.
If we are honest, we have to admit that we all make mistakes. God pointed this out in Romans 3:23. Since we all make mistakes, none of us are perfect. God pointed this out in Romans 3:10. Those who pretend to be perfect are not being honest; in fact, they are lying to themselves and to those around them. God pointed this out in 1 John 1:10. Though our culture pretends that there is nothing really worthy of judgment, deep inside we all know we have a few things in our lives that are in fact bad enough that they are worthy of judgment. God talks about this in Romans 2:14-16. How do we deal with those behaviors, thoughts, attitudes or feelings that we know really should not be present in our lives? Our culture says to ignore them because no one has the right to judge us. But ignoring bad behavior really does not work, because deep down those behaviors bother us a lot.
In the past, the church told us what to do and whether we agreed or not, we just did whatever the church told us. There were some advantages to this, because some bad behaviors were less prominent in our society than they are now. But there were also some real disadvantages because the church did not always tell us to do the right things. When people blindly followed the church, some terrible things happened in the name of religion. Anyone who did not agree with the church automatically got judged, even if they were actually the ones doing the right thing.
It is easy to see why people now have an aversion to being judged. Since judgment often came from the church, the way many people in our culture responded was to drop out of church.
The problem with simply dropping out of church was that it does not address the behavior that brought out the negative feelings to begin with. Though the church sometimes had it wrong, sometimes they had it right. Ultimately, there are some behaviors that are right and some that are wrong. Simply avoiding people, or groups, who may point those wrong things out will not solve our problem. That is like a person with a heart condition refusing to go to the doctor out of fear of what the doctor may say. If the condition goes on long enough without treatment, the result is not going to be positive and the treatment for the condition will be much more invasive than what could have been done if it had been addressed earlier. The same is true when we have poor behavior in our lives that we have not addressed. Eventually we will reap the consequences of that behavior. By the time all those consequences finally hit us, it may cost us far more than we ever intended to pay. In essence, our fear of minor judgment may eventually cause us to experience much more significant judgment.
Perhaps it is time to start exploring church again. Obviously there are some overly judgmental types of churches that may not help us be healthy. But there are many churches that understand that in our human weakness we made bad choices and now we are trying to fix those issues. Those churches will walk with us through the journey until we get where we need to be. They will not tell us that all of our behavior is acceptable, but we already know that. But they will remind us that God loves us in spite of our behavior and that He will help us become the person we always wanted to be. It is time for us to overcome our fear of judgment and start dealing with the baggage in our lives. We are going to need the help of other people to do that. That is what church is all about. It is a group of sinners encouraging each other to do better as we see the return of Christ approach. God reminded us of that in Hebrews 10:25. There may be some painful moments in the short term, but the joy over the long term will be worth it.
Lord, help us examine our own hearts so that we can be in right relationship with You. Do not let our fear of judgment cause us to flee the very thing that can change our lives. Amen.
This devotional is from the book “Heavenly Mundane” by Dr. Terry W. Dorsett. Dr. Dorsett has been a pastor, church planter, denominational leader and author in New England for more than 20 years. He is a happy husband, a proud father and adoring grandfather. He is a cancer survivor and believes that God works powerfully through times of suffering. He writes extensively and you can find all of his books at: