Christianity / Grace of God

Freedom…Not to Judge!

Freedom…Not to Judge!

Not judging…is SUCH a relief!

To paraphrase Douglas Adams, “Not judging is Big, really BIG! I mean you may think its a long walk to the chemist, but that’s just peanuts compared to not judging

Across the world there has been an increased understanding within the church about the Grace of God.  Some have even called it a “grace movement”.  But one of the fringe benefits we get as Christians with this fresh understanding is a new perspective on judging.

Judging

As humans it seems our knee jerk reaction is to judge.  It comes as natural to us as breathing.  We judge politicians and celebrities, bosses and work mates, family and friends.  We even judge the way others raise their children…and then judge people who decide not to have children at all.  We always understand a person’s situation better than those people themselves and if they only asked, we could tell them exactly how they should run their lives.

C.S. Lewis says it best when he noted, “we judge others by their actions but we judge ourselves by our intentions.”

And when judging is done by Christians it is usually done to enforce our personal standard of God’s holiness.

Holiness

In a book by my friend Paul Ellis he explains the grace of God through the use of 10 words.  One of the words he unpacks is the word “Holy”.

“Holiness means wholeness.  To say, “God is Holy” is to refer to the wholeness, fullness, beauty, and abundant life that overflows from the Godhead.  God lacks nothing.  He is unbroken, undamaged, unfallen, completely complete and entire within himself.”

When we judge we are, in effect, judging the lack of perceived “wholeness” in others.

And that’s where the beauty of Grace come in.

Because ALL of us fall short of God’s glory or “wholeness” (Romans 3:23), we ALL need the “wholeness” that Christ imparts into us.  When we realize that none of us are “whole” short of the grace Jesus extends, we are MUCH more free to extend that same measure of grace and mercy to those around us.

Judging Others

Lets face it, as Christians we have a track record of an uneasy relationship with those outside the faith.  We feel that if we are “friends with sinners” then somehow we are endorsing their choices and lifestyles. We can’t help but “judge” their obvious sin so we retreat to our Sunday services, our cell groups, and our own “fellowship”.  When someone points out that Jesus hung out with “sinners” it’s usually explained away as his particular form of evangelism.  Someone recently wrote me;  Jesus only spent time with those people in order to share the gospel with them…

…as if Jesus became as popular as he was at parties by wooing everyone with his rendition of The Four Spiritual Laws.

judging people

No, people LOVED Jesus, and when I say people I mean the prostitutes, corrupt government officials, alcoholics, and other people with “issues”.  And why did they love him?

Because when they all sat and broke bread together at His table they found mercy and forgiveness, acceptance and friendship…not judgement.

God sent his Son into the world not to judge the world, but to save the world through him (John 3:17)

Judging is easy and that’s why Jesus warns us to refrain from it (Matt 7:1) and if we have to do it, to make a right judgement (John 7:24).

But what I started off by saying is this: Grace makes you free NOT to judge.  Sometimes I feel Christians feel it is their obligation to judge.  If they don’t, somehow sin will be allowed into the camp.  American Christians are particularly sensitive right now as they feel that unless they are vocal about sin in the nation, God’s judgement is coming.

Hogwash!

How vocal was Jesus about the sins and shortcomings of the Roman Empire?  When did Paul write to the Corinthians about how the church should mobilize to protest a new temple to foreign gods being built in the city?  When did Peter ever tell Christians to boycott the local food dealer who was well known to frequently visit the temple prostitutes?

When Jesus says not to judge it should be seen as another aspect of His grace.  Because when you do, you are taking on a burden that is very difficult to carry and in many cases, often comes back to bite you.

God gives you the freedom NOT to judge.  When you begin to see people without judging them, a whole new world of relational opportunity opens up.  People can’t receive grace from you at the same time they are receiving judgement.  Only one water tap can be turned on at a time.  If you want to bring salvation to those around you, if you want to bring them Life, then you have to enjoy the gift Jesus gives…

…so turn off the “judge” tap, it really is a HUGE relief!

 

5 comments

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  • word. well said steve! when we just approach every one and every situation with love, our health and the health of this world improves 🙂

  • Steve

    Reply

    Thanks Elisa, I really appreciate your comment.

  • So true, Steve! When I realized that it wasn’t my job to look for sin under everyone else’s rock, I felt a huge weight lifted from my shoulders and felt free to simply love people. I do have a question, though. I wonder if you have any insight into Paul Ellis’s description of the word holy. I have never heard it described that way, so I looked it up in the Greek lexicon and still don’t see where he gets “wholeness.” I like it and believe that wholeness is a natural result of Christ in our lives, but I don’t see that in the definition of the word holy. Thanks!

    • Steve

      Reply

      Thanks 2trakmind! I wrote Paul Ellis the question and his response is:

      A good dictionary – and I mean a good one, not an online one – will provide you with an answer. The word holy originally meant whole to English speakers, including those who translated the Bible. And as I explain in this post, it fits better than more modern interpretations such as separateness. Read the old preachers and you will see they interpreted holiness as wholeness. For instance, Spurgeon in his note on Ps 103:1, says: “It is instructive to note how the Psalmist dwells upon the holy name of God, as if his holiness were dearest to him; or, perhaps, because the holiness or wholeness of God was to his mind the grandest motive for rendering to him the homage of his nature in its wholeness.” If you read the NT and substitute the word holy for wholly or whole, you’ll see it fits perfectly.

      I don’t think Strong’s definition is wrong, just incomplete. God is holy and always has been. In what sense was he set apart before creation? There was nothing to be set apart from? In what sense was he sacred when there was nothing profane?

      Without knowing the etymology, I would guess “set apart” or “separate” is what you are when you are whole in a world of brokenness, complete in world of lack, and healthy in a world of hurt. How can Jesus be separate from sinners (Heb 7:26) and yet spend so much time in their lives? We hear the word “separate” and think “avoid sinners” but Jesus the Holy One did the exact opposite.

      Our pictures of “separate” stem from old covenant dedication: stick that shiny thing in the temple and leave it there away from all these grubby sinners. It is very difficult to hear the word separate and not interpret it through old covenant lenses of don’t touch, don’t handle or “do to be” – I have to separate myself to be holy. I would say we are separate because we are holy. So set apart or separate yes, but only because those who are apart from Christ lack something; not because we lack something.

      In this world all who are holy and whole are separate or different, but not all who are separate/different are holy and whole. And in heaven all are holy and not separate or set apart from anything.

  • Thanks for checking on that with Paul!

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