I keep seeing this quote. I've seen it on Pinterest, Facebook, and I even saw it on a church sign the other day. Perhaps the quote is striking a nerve with people in the same fashion that it hit a nerve with me.
On the surface, I thought this quote was great. But once I did a little digging in God's word, I found that this quote doesn't paint an accurate picture of what the Bible says about judging.
First, let's look at some Bible verses that do essentially say the same thing as the quote above:
"But the Lord said to Samuel, "Do not consider his appearance or his height, for I have rejected him. The Lord does not look at the things human beings look at. People look at the outward appearance, but the Lord looks at the heart." 1 Samuel 16:7 (TNIV)
I draw two lessons from this verse:
- We as humans can't look at other humans hearts (figuratively), only God can. Therefore, God should be the judge on heart issues.
- God says that humans look at outward appearance, so as a Christian we really ought to consider how we are portraying ourselves to the rest of the world. I don't like to be judged by my outward appearance any more than the next person, but it's a fact of life, people judge us whether we like it or not. If we call ourselves Christians, we are then representatives of Christ, so by default we then tell the entire world around us what Christ looks like by our everyday actions and words. The problem is, humans are not perfect, and Jesus is perfect, so often times the image of Christ is horribly misrepresented. And I'm guilty of this too; I've misrepresented Christ and unfortunately, I will probably do so again. If only the entire world, Christian or not, could remember that Christians are disciples or students of Jesus. Jesus is the teacher, and like any student, we Christians have a lot to learn. Which is why it is also important to cut every one some grace (this could be an entire blog post in itself).
"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. Don't be flip with the sacred. Banter and silliness give no honor to God. Don't reduce holy mysteries to slogans. In trying to be relevant, you're only being cute and inviting sacrilege." Matthew 7:1-6 (MSG)Some lessons:
- The judgement we place on others, can also be placed on ourselves often times. For example, the other day when I was frantically searching for my dog and crying hysterically, driving down the road, I had to stop suddenly because the person in front of me stopped suddenly. Well then the person behind me had to stop suddenly, only he decided to also hunk, flip me the bird, and yell. I thought to myself, "How dare he!! He has no idea the kind of day I'm having!!" and then I was gently reminded, "Vanessa, you have no idea what kind of day he is having."
- This whole judging thing can not be reduced to 9 words like it has been in the pictured quote above (see verse that was highlighted in bold above, Matthew 7:6).
Secondly, there are times when we are called to judge. Let's take a look at 1 Corinthians 5:
"I also received a report of scandalous sex within your church family, a kind that wouldn't be tolerated even outside the church: One of your men is sleeping with his stepmother. And you're so above it all that it doesn't even faze you! Shouldn't this brake your hearts? Shouldn't it bring you to your knees in tears? Shouldn't this person and his conduct be confronted and dealt with?
I'll tell you what I would do. Even though I'm not there in person, consider me right there with you, because I can dully see what's going on. I'm telling you that this is wrong. You must not simply look the other way and hope it goes away on its own. Bring it out in the open and deal with it in the authority of Jesus our Master. Assemble the community - I'll be present in spirit with you and our Master Jesus will be present in power. Hold this man's conduct up to public scrutiny. Let him defend it if he can! But if he can't, then out with him! It will be totally devastating to him, of course, and embarrassing to you. But better devastation and embarrassment than damnation. You want him on his feet and forgiven before the Master on the Day of judgement.
Your flip and callous arrogance in these things bothers me. You pass it off as a small thing, but it's anything but that. Yeast, too, is a "small thing," but it works its way through a whole batch of bread dough pretty fast, So get rid of the "yeast." Our true identity is flat and plain, not puffed up with the wrong kind of ingredient. The Messiah, our Passover Lamb, has already been sacrificed for the Passover meal, and we are the Unraised Bread part of the Feast. So let's live out our part in the Feast, not raised bread swollen with the yeast of evil, but as flat bread-simple, genuine, unpretentious.
I wrote you in my earlier letter that you shouldn't make yourselves at home among the sexually promiscuous. I didn't mean that you should have nothing at all to do with outsiders of that sort. Or with crooks, whether blue or white-collar. Or with spiritual phonies, for that matter. You'd have to leave the word entirely to do that! But I am saying that you shouldn't act as if everything is just fine when a friend who claims to be a Christian is promiscuous or crooked, it flip with God or rude to friends, gets drunk or becomes greedy and predatory. You can't just go along with this, treating it as acceptable behavior. I'm not responsible for what the outsiders to, but don'e we have some responsibility for those within our community of believers? God decides on the outsiders, but we need to decide when our brothers or sisters are out of line and, if necessary, clean house."More lessons:
- This is just one example of many when God does call us to use sound judgement. But you'll notice (especially be the words in bold), that the judgement is on those close to us, and for their own good. The example that comes to mind is cancer. When a doctor discovers a patient has cancer, the doctor doesn't look the other way and hope that the cancer will go away on it's own. The doctor doesn't even pray that the cancer will go away on its own. A good doctor will pray and will take quick, drastic, measures to remove the cancer from the patient as quickly as possible, so the cancer doesn't spread and eventually kill the patient. The patient, of course is devastated at first, but if the patient values her/his life, he/she will follow the doctor's orders, pray, and make whatever lifestyle changes are necessary to completely rid their body of the cancer. These measures don't always save the patient, but one must at least try, other wise there's no hope at all.
- It's also important to notice that it says, "...when a friend..." It would do absolutely no good if a stranger off the street walked up to a patient and said "Hey, you got cancer. You should do something about that. I've read a lot of articles about getting rid of cancer, let me help you..." That would be crazy. It's just as crazy when "Christians" judge strangers and try to convince them or condemn them of their sin. The sinner is going to think the same thing the patient thought, "You are crazy! Stay away from me! I don't want to listen to anything you have to say, crazy!" Change in my life has been brought about by people who genuinely love me and care about my future, people who practice what they preach, and people who have a daily loving relationship with the Lord which has stood the test of time.
As much as I like the pictured quote above, I'm going to trade it in for a more accurate picture quote (which is below, but you can also find it in the Bible):
Sometimes love involves judgement; but judgement must always involve love.
God is love and our ultimate judge,