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Sunday, September 1, 2013

Judge Not...

 “Do not judge, or you too will be judged.
For in the same way you judge others,
you will be judged,
and with the measure you use,
it will be measured to you.”
Matthew 7:1-2 NIV
My qualification for writing this piece is not because I have mastered the art of NOT being judgmental, but because I am a master at judging! I am ashamed to admit that often I have passed off judging others as recognizing the obvious, being opinionated, being discerning, or simply evaluating the evidence.
I began to learn the art of judging at a very early age. Being brought up in a legalistic church and home I learned that if you did certain things you were a Christian and if you did other things you were not a Christian. I don’t mind telling you that the grace of God does not support either view. Very simply, we are saved by God’s grace that he alone chose to pour out upon very undeserving people. We either accept this truth or we do not.
I hate when I find myself falling down the very slippery slope of judgmental thought patterns! I know that Jesus said, “Do not judge, or you too will be judged. For in the same way you judge others, you will be judged, and with the measure you use, it will be measured to you.” Matthew 7:1-2 NIV Oh how I want mercy from the Father instead of judgment! Therefore, I must learn not to judge.
The truth is we are not blind people. God gave us eyes. We see and we observe. Often we see the obvious. Recognizing a flaw or a sin in another person’s life is not the problem. Determining what we will do with what we see is the problem!
I have discovered that I am not much interested in confronting a person about sin or even trying to show them a better way. I am much better at passing silent judgment or verbal judgment to another individual about the person setting in the judgment seat. The Holy Spirit is beginning to endeavor to teach me that I must not evaluate that person but rather evaluate my choices on how I will respond to what I see. My knee jerk reflex is to go into “judgment attack mode”, but the Holy Spirit convicts me of that behavior and points me in the direction of the “grace mode”.
I confess that having that knowledge is pretty void of application unless I can have some practical tools to assist me in this process. God is so good. When we ask him for godly wisdom he gives it abundantly. It is always his perspective that I need when I am dealing with the sin of judging others.
This morning my time in the garden is not one of condemnation, but a sweet time with Jesus as he begins to teach me some practical ways I can deal with judgmental thoughts. In this setting of gorgeous roses, God reveals to me once again that his way is again higher than my way and his thoughts are far above my thoughts. And so his work in my heart begins as he unfolds the petals of his abundant wisdom like the petals of a beautiful rose.
In order to not speak the obvious, offer an opinion, or point a finger here are a few things I need to consider:
Step #1 – Place value on the life of the one I am about to judge.
__________, (insert the persons name) is worth far more than I could ever imagine.
Step #2 – Consider the very real possibility that God is using this “wart” of sinful behavior in this person’s life as a means of showing them their need of him.
Step #3 – Take a moment and pray immediately for this person. Pray that they would be responsive to God. Remember the Holy Spirit does an amazing job of convicting.
Step #4 – I must never overlook the fact that I may not know where this person has been, how they grew up, what their insecurities are, what sins and tragedies have been present in their life, what values they have or have not been taught, or if they even realize that what they are saying or doing is wrong.
Step #5 – I must always take time to identify at least one area of sin in my own life. A good place for me to start would be with the sin of being judgmental.
Step #6 –If I per chance find that I am sinless, (good luck with that one) I am then free to cast a stone if I still feel so inclined,  Jesus said, “If any one of you is without sin, let him be the first to throw a stone at her.” John 8:7b NIV
Step #7 – I must always give thanks to God that he loves me enough to continue to call me to climb higher in my walk with him.
God always wants us to identify the sin in our own life and begin the hard work of choosing to repent and change. We often think that our sins are limited to our deeds. But the fact is that our sinful thoughts become sinful words and those words become sinful deeds. All sinful thoughts, words, and deeds need to be confessed to our Savior.
Some of us may be able to quit this sinful habit of judging others “cold turkey”, but for most of us it is a process of deliberate obedience one judgmental thought at a time, one day at a time. Today God also reminds me that “Man looks at the outward appearance, but the LORD looks at the heart.” I Samuel 16:7b NIV Good to know! Excellent example to follow! My thought today is Lord, help me to push aside the behavior I am observing in another and give me the courage to unfold the layers of life that has enveloped their heart. Give me your eyes so that I may gaze deep into the heart of this one who you value and love. Help me not to point shameful fingers but rather open arms of grace. Give me your words and your actions to point them to you.
As a Believer, I am especially convicted of my judgmental thoughts and words. Believers should know better. People who do not profess to be a follower of Jesus Christ are behaving on the instinct of their sinful nature. God has not revealed to them godly behavior. But those who follow Christ are called to rise above their sinful nature. We have been given the Holy Spirit to help us in our time of need. His Spirit empowers us to overcome our natural sinful bend. Our salvation is free but God’s Word tells us to work out our own salvation. You might say from the inside out. “…continue to work out your salvation with fear and trembling, for it is God who works in you to will and act according to his good purpose.” Philippians 2:12b-13 Our “free” salvation should shine through us. Our actions should be such that God’s good purposes would be revealed to show others the way. God works in us to change our will to his will so that we can act in a manner that will glorify Him now and forever.
Refusing to give in to judgmental thoughts is one of the many ways we can let Jesus shine through us from the inside out. Working out our own salvation is not to be taken lightly. We are accountable to God. God hates all sin; therefore, we stand before him with fear and trembling when we refuse to obey. My God is a God of love. I can hardly type the words that would suggest otherwise. Yet, it is because of his great love he cannot and will not tolerate sin in any form. What a privileged we have to give him both our sin that separates us from him forever and our sin that hinders our sweet relationship with him.
  1. Who are the people in your life that are always under your microscope of judgment?
  2. Is God speaking to you today regarding judgmental thoughts?
  3. Are you like me and long to be free of these thoughts?
  4. Are you willing to walk with me as we endeavor to practice these 7 steps that will lead us away from judging others wrongly?
Dear Jesus,
Today I come to you with a heart that begs for forgiveness for the sin of judging others. How I long to be free of this sinful habit. Father, I want to bless others not judge them. Help me to remember the very sobering truth that I will be judged by you in the same manner and measure that I judge others! Father, I know that you love me and that you will never love me more than you do this very day. I thank you for that love and for the undeserving grace you have shown me. Now Lord, I pray I will show that grace to others by refusing to judge them. I thank you Lord that you see my failures as opportunities to call me to climb higher. Lord, I pray this day I would be obedient as I endeavor to trash the “judgmental mode” that so frequently rears its ugly head, and trade it in for your “mode of grace” day by day.
It is in your name I pray. Amen.