judging people

This post builds off of some of the ideas that came out of yesterday’s post. If you didn’t get a chance to read yesterdays—or the comments that were given in response to it—you can find it here.

…………………

 

Loving people is hard. That is really the bottom line. Truly loving people is not an easy task. Especially the more we get to know them. The more we know people and open up with one another the greater the chances for disagreement, hurt feelings, betrayal, and disappointment. We are all sinful after all. We are broken. And even as Jesus is healing us we still have propensities to harm each other.

 

So we have this call to love people well. It is a prominent theme throughout the Bible. And it isn’t the pseudo kind of love. It’s not all pats on the back and words of affirmation. It’s a commitment to living life together and helping one another—spurring one another on—to become healthy God followers.

 

So how do we love well without becoming judgmental of others? This is such a critical question. That’s my own opinion of course. But I see it as critical because I see us doing such a poor job of it. At least most of us.

 

The majority of people tend to fall too far to one side or the other. We either are too quick to judge, too quick to come to conclusions about another person. Or in the interest of keeping the peace, we don’t address any of their behavior. Where is the balance?

 

We are called to live in community with others. Relationship is central to the faith of following Jesus. So when dealing with other people how do we discern the difference? When is it judging and when is it not?

 

I’m turning to Jesus’ words in Luke 6 for some clarity and guidance.

“Be merciful, just as your Father is merciful. Do not judge, and you will not be judged. Do not condemn, and you will not be condemned. Forgive, and you will be forgiven. Give, and it will be given to you. A good measure, pressed down, shaken together and running over, will be poured into your lap. For with the measure you use, it will be measured to you.”                     Luke 6:36-38

 

Jesus calls us not to judge, but notice the language that surrounds that sentence. Before it: Be merciful. After it: Do not condemn and forgive. It seems like the issue is on our focus. The problem of judging is a problem of our focus when someone else acts wrongly. What are we focusing on, the person, or the act?

 

“Be merciful…” That’s a call to be merciful to the person. We aren’t being called to act mercifully towards an act. We can’t be merciful to the act of stealing or lying or murder, but we can be merciful to the person who steals, lies, or commits murder.

 

“Do not condemn…” Again, this is about the person. The actions that we should deem as sin in another would be actions God has already condemned. The Bible has already called stealing, lying, and murder sin. We are not needed in that role of deciding whether or not they are wrong! That’s already been determined

 

Forgive. We are being called to forgive the person who steals, lies, or murders (these are obviously not the only sins, I’m just trying to stick with these three as examples). We aren’t being called on to forgive the lie, for example. The lie is an inanimate thing that was put out there by a person. It is the person who needs forgiving. It is our relationship with that person that needs restoration.

 

Ultimately, the call to not judge is as a substitute for being merciful, not condemning, or with-holding forgiveness. It’s a focus on the person. I really despise the saying, “Love the sinner, hate the sin.” Primarily because I feel like people who don’t seem to love others well at all seem to throw that phrase around and use it as a license to be anything but loving to select groups of sinners they feel comfortable with condemning. Admittedly, that’s probably not a totally fair statement for me to make, but it feels true more often than not in my experiences.

 

The reality is, however, that a distinction does have to be made between a persons value and heart and the actions they have committed. Not a separation, but a distinction.

 

We will dig further in to this tomorrow. Jesus has much more to say in Luke 6 that we should consider. Especially about “fruit” and good people or bad people. But for today I am carrying this idea around with me: When people act in ways that are clearly sin, how do I treat the person? Mercifully, without condemning that person, with forgiveness? Or do I treat them in some other way? Am I simply judging them?

 

And how do I reject a person’s actions and call those actions sin without condemning the person unmercifully? Without acting in an unforgiving manner?

 

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9 thoughts on “judging people

  1. yesterday and today’s posts are really making me think…. thanks.

    the way i pull myself or really the way the Holy Spirit pulls me back to reality is to remember that without God’s grace and mercy – i would or could be doing the same as the person i am potentially judging for sin. Jesus said, (i think) that he didn’t even come to the earth to judge but to save – that “job” belongs to the Father. So, if the Son of Man and our Savior came to the earth as a baby, spent 33 years here and was crucified for the world’s sin and he didn’t judge while he was here what right do i think i have to judge the people God loves – those in Christ or otherwise?

    God forgive us.

    • Mirm, thanks for adding these thoughts. And yes, you are right about Jesus not coming to judge…sort of. Ha!

      In John 12:47 Jesus says he didn’t come to judge the world, but to save it and he goes on to identify the Father as the one who judges. But also, in John 5 Jesus says it’s not the father who judges, but Jesus himself who does the judging (see John 5:21-30). So you are right and also not right!

      I’m kidding, of course. This is a super confusing subject I think. And the whole idea of judging has been so jumbled by our society that it only makes it harder to understand. So Jesus judges…and he doesn’t judge. Maybe we’ll get in to what in the world all that is about in the future. It might make some good food for thought.

      Having said that, I think you are right on. We should not be judging. At all. Period. It’s so true that but for God’s grace it could be us (and often is us). And it’s so helpful to keep this in mind. It can really fuel the necessary energy for being merciful to others.

      Thanks for sharing. I’m glad you’ve found some value in yesterday and today’s posts!

      • One more thing…

        The idea I’m really digging towards and hoping we can get our minds around is the distinction between judging and holding people accountable. WHat does it look like to call sin out when we see it but not compromise love? How do we do it without judging? AND where is the line for people we call brothers and sisters in Christ and where is the line for those who are not Jesus followers? The line is different for both I think.

        We’re on a journey here and I’m hoping you all will continue to come with me so we can find it together. Tomorrow we’ll add another piece to the puzzle.

        • In the bible it says that i am my brothers keeper and am a watchman. If i see my brother commiting an offence i am to give him a warning so that he/she will turn away from what ever offence has been committed. As we press on in the Lord, his word will correct us from the wrong things we do and this same way that we are being set free and corrected, we will also correct and set free others that commit the same acts. Now, as we stand corrected, we will not judge others. Bro. David was corrected by the prophet, and as we read on when he commited the offense of adultery, the prophet was merciful and loving, but the consequence of his action was bitter. Now, when i read the bible i can trully understand that i cannot criticize david for what he did and not pass judgement by not condemning him, as if it could have been i committing such an act, or one of my chidren, so as a loving parent the correction must be the consequences, so that i or they will not commit such an act again. The bible teaches us not to because judges over anybody. I think on this commandment often and understand that i don’t have the RIGHT to judge anyone because i am a slave/servant who is unworthy of his love, mercy and forgiveness and have not forgotten how the Lord took me out of a rotten stage. If, i judge, i know that i will judge wrongly and unfearly and go with what i feel and see, But the Lord who is perfect , HE paid with his life not thinking of himself, and not judging me, has already gave us the pattern in not judging others, but correcting in season and out of season. thank you for your thought and inspiration.

          • Carmen, thanks for adding in your thoughts and perspective. Good stuff. I especially like the reminder that we don’t have a right to judge others because we are slaves and servants ourselves who are just as unworthy of his love.

            The idea that we will most likely judge wrongly is also somehting I don’t think we consider often enough. It “feels so right” sometimes as we look at another’s situation and we feel like our judgments must be correct. But you are so right, we would likely judge wrongly and unfairly. Afterall, it is only God who judges the heart. We only have outward appearances to go on.

            Thanks for taking the time to read and share. I hope to see your comments and insights again in the future.

            Grace and peace to you.

  2. This is quite interesting,so I must reflect on these comment further. Howeverin regards to. Murder, the person can be forgiven but not the act. Give unto God what is God and unto Caesar what is Caesar. I hope this make sense.

    • Kathy, very interesting distinction. I would like to hear more about what you are thinking when you say “the person can be forgiven but not the act.” By forgive do you mean let go without consequences? If so, I would agree. However, I wonder if it is possible to forgive and still require consequences for the actions? Would that still be forgiveness?

      Also wondering if we can really pull murder out and treat it differently than stealing or lying or greed or anything God calls as sin? I’m not saying that was your intention, but I think we as people tend to rank and treat differently some sins over others. Just curious about your thoughts here. Thanks for taking the time to read and to comment.

  3. I just love this writing. It is something that I needed to “hear” and that I needed to pass on. You have a great blog going and I am excited as a follower of Christ to read more and maybe even get the courage to start my own spiritual online journal. God Bless You!

    • Kerri, I’m glad you found this post and grateful you found some value in it. Thanks for the encouraging words. I hope you come back to read more and share your own thoughts in response to what I’m writing.

      And if you feel the desire to write, you should definitely start your own online journal! It’s been a great journey for me as I process what I’m reading/living/experiencing. And I’m blessed by others who share the journey and contribute their thoughts and responses. It’s been a blessing to me.

      Grace and peace to you on this journey. Hope to “hear” from you again in the future!

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