In yesterday’s Stepping Stones, we opened up the topic of judging others. We saw how we are simultaneously called to judge and not to judge. We tried to differentiate between these two seemingly contradictory callings. The main element that clarifies the confusion involves looking at the heart of both the judger and the judged. You see, we are to judge others’ behaviors, but it’s impossible to judge their hearts.
So what right do we have to condemn others since we are not perfect? Jesus made this clear to the crowd condemning the woman caught in adultery (John 8:3-9). They were clamoring to stone her, but Jesus said, “If any one of you is without sin, let him be the first to throw a stone at her.” One by one, the accusers disappeared.
Condemnation is such a final judgment, and we don’t have the right, authority, or power to condemn anyone. Only God has the perfect slate and is the authority who declares, and more importantly, carries out the final judgment of “Condemned!”
According to the Bible, as we saw yesterday, we are called as parents to correct our children … to pick elders and church leaders with certain character … to vote for Godly leaders … to be a third party helping settle a dispute between two brothers. So again, the permission we have to judge is contingent upon the motivating engines in our hearts. We need to ask what drives our actions when we engage in the tricky, dangerous, and responsibility-laden role of judging another person.
God does not call us to condemn, shame, mock, belittle, or somehow lower others. Neither are we to exalt ourselves. But isn’t this the definition of what our flesh is all about? Satan certainly does all he can to accentuate this me-centered mentality. When God grants us the responsibility and authority to judge the behavior of others our temptation is to puff out our chests and let our egos guide our motivations and judgments.
Instead, our attitude needs to be one of compassion, love, service, and encouragement. We are to help others avoid reaping the perilous fruit of the flesh that wrong behavior produces. We are to be the instrument of God. We are to direct others to Him and His Word for direction, healing, and transformation so they can overcome frustrating or sinful behavior. We need to embrace this motivational mindset and role, and guard against Satan’s me-centered head games.
Another component to consider is how we approach the person. Since we don’t know his motivation, we need to ask questions and help him recognize his misconduct. We can lovingly help him identify the motivations, fears, issues, and the me-centered process that led to the wrong behavior. We also want him to know God’s forgiveness, and God’s desire to receive him into a transforming relationship.
Today, jot down on a piece of paper the names of people whose behaviors God allows you to monitor and judge. Examine your heart and motivation in this assignment. If God has put you in a special position to speak into another person’s life, do it with love and with the motivations described above. You can be a great catalyst in his spiritual walk … or a major stumbling block … depending on your heart as you handle this assignment from God and for God. Judging soundly is your decision, so choose well.
O God, I know I am sometimes quick to judge … and even worse, to condemn. Please forgive me. Help me to see clearly how I can be Your partner in ministry. Help me to recognize the people in my life whom you call me to “judge”. Teach me the seriousness of this responsibility and guard my heart from my flesh and Satan. I pray this and all prayers in the name of the One slow to judge, always a servant, and quick to forgive, Jesus Christ; and all God’s children say – AMEN!
The scribes and the Pharisees brought a woman who had been caught in adultery, and placing her in the midst they said to him, “Teacher, this woman has been caught in the act of adultery. Now in the Law Moses commanded us to stone such women. So what do you say?” This they said to test him, that they might have some charge to bring against him. Jesus bent down and wrote with his finger on the ground. And as they continued to ask him, he stood up and said to them, “Let him who is without sin among you be the first to throw a stone at her.” And once more he bent down and wrote on the ground. But when they heard it, they went away one by one, beginning with the older ones, and Jesus was left alone with the woman standing before him. John 8:3-9