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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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!
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