What’s wrong with her?

judgeLast night I remembered thinking about another with a critical spirit, saying to myself, “What’s wrong with her? Why can’t she just be the ‘adult’ in the situation?” The memory was painful, the regret was real. Why? Because when I found myself in a very similar set of circumstances, I reacted in much the same way as she had acted. As my words echoed in my own mind, I confessed my critical spirit, asking God to forgive me, and to teach me to be a person of kindness and mercy.  Judging happens to us all. We see a child out of control and think that the parent is failing. We see a marriage in crisis and wonder why the couple doesn’t just ‘fix it.’

Jesus teaches us to think differently. He says  “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)  He goes on to use that famous hyperbolic illustration of a person trying to get a speck of sawdust out of another’s eye while have a post in his own eye! When we see what appears to be failure, Jesus is not teaching us to turn a blind eye or excuse it. Genuine love seeks the best and speaks the truth. Is it a loving choice to watch a person going full speed towards their own destruction and say nothing? The answer is obvious.

How do we speak to others? Are we harsh? Do we talk down to them from a lofty perch that supposes our own perfection? Or, do we come alongside as a brother, patient, understanding, offering to listen, and not simply praying for the person, but praying with them for God’s salvation?

Our model is none other than God as He works with you and me. He is a God of amazing love, merciful, and redemptive! We know this and are comforted by it. When we fail, when we are willful;  He does not sweep down upon us to slap us sideways in a divine fit of rage. He does not rail on us, condemning us as defective or stupid! Instead, the Spirit comes with persistent conviction, urging us to turn around. He shows us the Way and offers forgiveness. And, He leads us through the process of spiritual growth that changes us from the inside out.

The balancing truth, however, is this: “Do not be deceived: God cannot be mocked. A man reaps what he sows. The one who sows to please his sinful nature, from that nature will reap destruction; the one who sows to please the Spirit, from the Spirit will reap eternal life. Let us not become weary in doing good, for at the proper time we will reap a harvest if we do not give up.” (Galatians 6:7-9, NIV)  He will not wave away our willful sins as inconsequential.  He convicts us and calls us to shape our daily lives around His will and in so doing, we find life that the best possible. If we love Him, we obey Him and from our obedience grows a rich crop of blessings.

Jesus’ words that forbid harsh judgment, quoted a moment ago, are among the most abused and misunderstood words in the Bible. In our culture of tolerance, they are often used to remove all accountability, to excuse all kinds of choices that are plainly wrong. Jesus never asked us to suspend our good sense, to set aside a discerning heart that sees the truth, or to refuse to seek positive change. What He asks of us, as His disciples, is to be kind and patient, not quick to condemn, ready to step into the messes of humanity to work to make them better.

The Message translates His well-known words this way:  “Don’t pick on people, jump on their failures, criticize their faults— unless, of course, you want the same treatment. That critical spirit has a way of boomeranging. It’s easy to see a smudge on your neighbor’s face and be oblivious to the ugly sneer on your own. Do you have the nerve to say, ‘Let me wash your face for you,’ when your own face is distorted by contempt? It’s this whole traveling road-show mentality all over again, playing a holier-than-thou part instead of just living your part. Wipe that ugly sneer off your own face, and you might be fit to offer a washcloth to your neighbor.” (Matthew 7:1-5, The Message)

Got a brother in the Lord who’s failing? Love him to life, starting with prayer for understanding. Meet him where he is.

Wrestling with how to help that person who keeps making the same self-destructive choice?  Frame your response with lovingkindness that seeks transformation without condemnation.

Here is a word from the Word. “Dear brothers and sisters, if another believer is overcome by some sin, you who are godly should gently and humbly help that person back onto the right path. And be careful not to fall into the same temptation yourself. Share each other’s burdens, and in this way obey the law of Christ. If you think you are too important to help someone, you are only fooling yourself. You are not that important. Pay careful attention to your own work, for then you will get the satisfaction of a job well done, and you won’t need to compare yourself to anyone else.” (Galatians 6:1-4, NLT)

_________

Here With Me

When darkness deepens the path unsure
The sun is hidden by the storms
I look to heaven and cry to Thee
O God be here with me

In ev’ry breath ev’ry joy and tear
Ev’ry passing hour let me know You’re near
In life in death for eternity
O God be here with me

When faith is shaken when fears surround
My feet will stand on solid ground
In ev’ry season my song will be
O God be here with me

And in that moment we’re face to face
I will not need these eyes of faith
Forever after God I will see
That You’ve always been with me
Oh You’ve always been with me

O God be here with me
O God be here with me

Nick Herbert | Phil Wickham | Tim Hughes
© 2015 Thankyou Music (Admin. by Capitol CMG Publishing)
Tim Hughes Designee (Admin. by Capitol CMG Publishing)
Phil Wickham Music (Admin. by Music Services, Inc.)

CCLI License # 810055

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