Recently I was brought to my knees when I realized how judgmental I had been about a quiet Christian. Wondering why they weren’t making more of a difference was really an attempt to put them in the place of God. Let me explain. Only God can change lives; we are simply His instruments. As long as we are doing His will in the place He has put us, the results are totally up to Him.
Jesus told His disciples that He has been given the authority, by His heavenly Father, to judge (John 5:22). Since that is His responsibility, is it any wonder that Jesus warned His followers not to judge others? He knows each one of us has our weak points, areas where we need to grow, areas against which we may even have to battle in order to mature in our faith. Remember He told the crowd “He who is without sin cast the first stone”? (John 8:7KJV). He knows the dark side of every human being.
First Jesus demands we remove the plank out of our own eye (7:5). Why? That very plank prevents us from seeing properly. Have you ever had an eyelash in your eye? The result is a lot of natural tears which blur your vision. Imagine a plank! Now we see through a glass darkly, Paul told the Corinthians (1 Corinthians 13:12 KJV). If that is the extent of our vision, how can we accurately assess the direction we ourselves should be going, let alone where someone else is headed? When the plank is removed from my eye, I can see where my judgement is faulty.
Another question arises. How do we feel when the shoe is on the other foot and we are unfairly judged by other folks? Has that ever happened to you? Its almost a fact of life, isn’t it? So where is that going to stop? It must stop first with me! We claim as Christians to follow Christ. Our judge is fair, positive, encouraging. He does not tear us down, but builds us up into a holy body. “How beautiful are the feet of those who bring good news?” (Romans 10:15)
Part of the problem is that we often look at circumstances rather than at the people involved. We may want the circumstances to change because we are afraid. Therefore in examining my own heart can I, will I, acknowledge my own fears? Do those fears honour God? When we take our eyes off of the situation and remember Jesus told us His followers would be known by their love for one another, our emphasis shifts.
This is hugely important because in this scripture passage Jesus said if we want to be judged fairly, we must do unto others what we would have them do to us; we must expect to be judged in the same way as we judge others (Matthew 7:2). He pretty much said the same thing in the Lord’s Prayer….we are to pray: ”Forgive us our debts as we also have forgiven our debtors” (Matthew 6:12).
God then brought me to the conclusion that it takes more strength to be less verbal, but just to live the life God intends us to live, than to be looking for external “results” from our verbal witness. Besides, in any relationship one cannot judge what is quietly being said and done behind the scenes, which one day may bear fruit. Our attitude is so often governed by our feelings and those often rely on our ignorance. When will we let God’s will be done on earth as it is in heaven? Why does our worldly wisdom seem so much better than God’s?
Recognizing truth requires a response. If I have sinned against a brother or sister by my judgmental attitude, how can that be changed? First I have to try to look at the facts. Maturity comes when our hearts and minds are in tune with God. Thoughts and feelings must be in sync. What do I know to be true? How will I respond to that truth? Will I praise God for the good I know exists? Will I pray for my brother or sister to be mightily used of God?
Without realizing it, our goals often become utopian. For example, we want to live at peace. Jesus said “In this world you will have trouble” (John 16:33). The peace, His peace which He gives to us through the Holy Spirit, is that calm which exists within our spirits, yours and mine, even in our darkest hour. It is not dependant upon circumstances. While we strive to right the wrongs of people in our world , our focus is in the wrong place. Certainly we are to help those who are hungry, needy, or abused as long as we are motivated by compassion for their distress. Let us take stock of Jesus’ words of comfort: “Take heart! I have overcome the world” (John 16:33). Do we believe?