Whew! Serious wake-up call for me the other day! I was attending my church Bible study, when I finally understood a concept that has been eluding me for as long as I can recall. The Bible tells us not to judge others… easier said than done ~ or at least that is what I chose to think. So what if I have opinions about some people, who wouldn’t… Right? WRONG!
Our teacher explained that the Gospel, or good news of what Jesus Christ did for us on the cross, is for everyone ~ that all might hear, believe, and be saved. The rest of the story in the New Testament ~ the teaching of how to walk with God and live the life of a Christ follower ~ however, is only for those who believe.
It makes perfect sense! It is ridiculous to think that we who believe in the Lord Jesus Christ as our personal Savior, and are indwelled with the Holy Spirit, could or would expect those who do not believe and are not filled with the Holy Spirit to be able to live according to the principles of the Law and Grace! Seriously, it is the Holy Spirit who convicts our hearts of sin and causes us to repent and change ~ becoming a new creation in Christ, and walking in the continual renewing of our hearts and minds. His indwelling Spirit is continually remodeling us into the likeness of Christ, and causing us to want to live better and do better so that we might reflect Him more. Not because we have to (grace check), but because we want to ~ out of gratefulness for all Jesus has done for us! So, HELLO, it is crazy to expect Joe-Blow-Non-Christian to miraculously straighten up and fly right, without the help of the Author of the miraculous!
But that’s what we do, isn’t it?! We feel a ping of irritation when we see a mother smoking in her car, windows rolled up, and a toddler in the backseat. We glare at those individuals lacking self-discipline at the office Christmas party, who don’t seem to know when to stop drinking… We groan and shake our heads when we hear about someone cheating on their spouse ~ not because we grieve for them and the pain they are causing, but because we think, “how could they?!” Good grief, as a former lost soul, what right have I to respond that way? Joe (mentioned above) may be able to wise up some on his own, but he will continually fail to find freedom from the sin that grips him, as long as he tries in his own strength.
I am so thankful for how patient and gracious God has been with me, the filth that He has overlooked and even removed from the slate of my life… So, why do I see others and judge? Why would I allow myself to believe that I am any better than the next sinner? Especially when the list of my own sins would easily one-up most of those I have let myself look down on. That reminds me… You know that famous line given by some non-believers, about why they don’t go to church, “Church is full of a bunch of hippocrites.” Honestly, I think it is more than that… I think it is our self-righteousness that keeps them running from places of worship. Certainly they are aware of our condescension. Please forgive me Lord!
Jesus spent time with sinners, not to stoop or fall to their “level,” but to love them UP to His! Love, not judgment, shines the light of truth on sin and brings conviction to the heart. Because with love, God’s grace is evident. With judgment only condemnation lends itself. Which would you have chosen in your pre-Christian state… Which would you have felt more drawn to when looking at life through the veil of an empty, broken heart and hopelessness? Would you gravitate toward love and the free gift of grace, or judgment and the self-loathing of condemnation.
So, yet another lesson learned for me. Now, as I go about my day, and I catch myself sizing up others, judging their actions, attire, or words… I ask God to let me see them as He does… In need of a Savior, loved no less than those already in the fold. He is then able to break my heart for them, and I am able to see those things as just outward symptoms of a lost heart. In this frame of reference, I am able to share His Truth in love, and hopefully, His unfailing grace shines through!
Luke 6:37 “Do not judge, and you will not be judged. Do not condemn, and you will not be condemned. Forgive, and you will be forgiven.”
Philippians 2:3 Do nothing out of selfish ambition or vain conceit, but in humility consider others better than yourselves.
Colossians 3:12 Therefore, as God’s chosen people, holy and dearly loved, clothe yourselves with compassion, kindness, humility, gentleness and patience. Bear with each other and forgive whatever grievances you may have against one another. Forgive as the Lord forgave you. And over all these virtues put on love, which binds them all together in perfect unity.