(Photo by Selma Komisky)
Judge Like Jesus
By Victoria Martin
Don’t judge me, but I have been known to eat a whole family-sized large Dominos pizza all to myself. Don’t judge me, but I have been known to do a complete sudden u-turn down a supermarket aisle when I have seen someone I know ahead of me but really can’t’ be bothered to be sociable. Don’t judge me, but the cussing that once came out of my mouth when I accidentally stepped barefooted onto a piece of lego left on the floor, could have certainly given Ozzy Osbourne a run for his money!
So tell me, did you just judge me on any of my past ways? If you did, you wouldn’t be the first. I have experienced firsthand the critical and harsh judgment of yep, you guessed it… Christians. And frankly, it left me with the heartbreaking conclusion that many (not all!) can be the most judgemental, self-righteous, and meanest people around. My personal experience left me feeling confused, hurt and rejected. I was given a label that did not belong to me. And the most devastating part? What they said and how they treated me for an innocent mistake made me doubt everything I knew and loved about Jesus. Shock, frustration, and anger were hurled at Him through tears: How could He allow this to happen? He knew my true motives, He knew my heart, and yet He allowed people to believe this lie and make these judgments against me! It was an awful place to find myself in – blaming my perfect God for imperfect people’s misperceptions.
I learned a very valuable lesson that day: if not dealt with correctly, judgment through simple misunderstandings and assumptions can tear apart the closest of relationships, and oh how the enemy must delight!
It concerns me deeply that not only are we warring and picking out faults against our brothers and sisters but in doing so, we are pushing people away from Jesus rather than towards Him. If we, as Christians, are more interested in judging and condemning people than loving, helping, and leading them to repentance then honestly, I don’t blame them for running in the other direction!
Now please don’t misunderstand what I am saying here; if we see or know another Christain sinning then yes, we should and are in fact called to judge BUT we are called to judge righteously not religiously. There is a huge difference between the two: one leads to repentance and understanding, the other leads to hurt and doubt. We must not choose the latter. We need to get off our self-righteous pedestals and get back to basics. We need to get back to Jesus. And when we do, we see exactly how God wants us to deal with judgment…
In John chapter 8 we find Jesus teaching His followers when incomes the Pharisees who bring a woman to Him who has been caught in the act of adultery. They arrogantly quote scripture at Him saying, “Now in the Law, Moses commanded us to stone such women. So what do you say we do?”, Jesus’s response?, “He who is without any sin among you, let him be the first to throw a stone at her.” Boom! And a swift exit is made from the Pharisees… Jesus then turns to the woman and asks, “where are they? Did no one condemn you?” to which she answered, “ No one, Lord!” Then Jesus said, “I do not condemn you either. Go. From now on sin no more.”
Jesus handled the situation perfectly – with love, correction, and understanding. What can we learn from this event? This: Religion said “stone her. Relationship said, “love her.”
The first thing Jesus did was remind the Pharisees of the plank in their own eyes (Matthew 7:5). The next time we are tempted to raise a judging eyebrow at someone’s mistake; first, look inwardly and reflect on our own imperfections.
John 7: 24 tells us, “Do not judge by appearance, but judge fairly and righteously.” And Proverbs 18:13 confirms, “He who answers before he hears (the facts) -it is folly and shame to him.” Basically, we should not judge without knowing the full story. It is wrong to jump to conclusions and make assumptions. Only God can judge perfectly. Only God knows their hearts and true motives. And in Matthew 18:15, Jesus gives us more insight when dealing with another’s sin, “To go and show him his fault in private; if he listens and pays attention to you, you have won your brother back.” Not once does He say shout it from the rooftops, ignore it or be unkind.
Christians, let’s stand out in the world for all the righteous ways, not the rigid religious ones! Jesus makes it very clear; we all fall short!