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Love, Grace, and Mercy

Why are Christians so judgmental, when it’s so obvious that God is all about love? This is one of the hardest questions to answer, since it involves all the intricacies of life. It’s normal to judge! We all do it. And we need some kind of shared moral code to preserve the peace and our common life together. But God tells us not to judge, and to replace judgment with forgiveness, and He tells us to love each other as He has loved us. How do we make sense of this?

Suppose you’re sitting outside on a sunny day, in the park maybe, and you see a guy doing something that you would judge to be immoral, based on scripture. You want to say, “Man, that guy is just a bad person. He needs to change. He needs to find Jesus.” Right?

Well, he does need to find Jesus! You’d be right about that. But I think Jesus would look at that guy and say, “I see the heart of that man. He was born into sin. So in his selfishness, he’s sinning. He has not found me yet. He does not know about me. He does not have the Spirit of God inside of him yet, moving him to want to change.” That’s what Jesus does; He looks at the guy with love and understanding.

So why should you, a Christian, a follower of Jesus, look down on the guy? And then expect him to look up to you? It just doesn’t work!

You can treat your kids that way for a period of time, because of the intimidation factor. You can drag your kids to church. You can tell them, “You know what? You’re bad! You need to do better.” And do you know what? They’ll feel bad! But they won’t have a good relationship with you. They might live in fear of you. And they will live in fear of God. Not in reverential fear of Him, but in actual fear of His judgment.

That fear might cause your kids to change for a little while. But teaching your children to fear you and God will never cause a lasting heart change. A change of heart comes when they experience the God of love, not judgment.

Granted, He is both. But the judgment scene is for the end of history. God’s judgment happens when He comes back. That’s when He will say, “Look. I gave you plenty of chances. I loved you. I sent my son, and He did everything for you. He served you when He lived here on the Earth. He served humanity. And then when He died, He gave everything that He had, so that you could receive the Kingdom of God. And if you can’t accept that, then you’re going to have to go through a judgment process.”

But until that day comes, you’re going to experience the God of love, grace, and mercy, because that’s what He is.

Let’s go back to the guy in the park, behaving, in your judgment, immorally. Let’s say he’s had too many beers. I just don’t think it helps to look at somebody who’s doing something that I might not do, and then judge him. It does not help him, because it pushes him further away from God. It does not help me, because all a judgment can do is bring me further into a judgmental mentality.

The only thing I can do in my spirituality is to look at that guy and say, “Well, he’s outside of my moral code. I’m probably not going to go and partake in what he’s doing. Does he need Jesus? Yes. But I’m not going to get him to accept Jesus by walking over to him and smacking him in the back of the head with a Bible. He’s not going to love Jesus because I’m standing there, telling him he’s wrong.”

How about just loving on the guy? More on this next time. See you Wednesday.

3 thoughts on “Love, Grace, and Mercy

  1. Jeremy!
    I read your stuff on here and it just gives me hope. It makes me think that Christians can actually start behaving like Christ. As you say it is a tall order but so worth striving for. Thank you for giving me hope.

  2. Good points, but we presume that someone we see doing something we don’t approve us isn’t a Christian. Sometimes we judge people within our very own tribe because they believe or behave differently, versus getting to know them and the reasons behind their belief system. Even for those outside of faith, I think listening and getting to know them is key. We can achieve so much more when our actions are relational and go beyond just getting someone saved or to thinking like we think, but are rooted in genuine concern for the individual and is also willing to love them right where they are, even if they don’t change their ways.

  3. I recently wrote on my blog about what happened when I stopped judging. The fact is that people are rarely (read never) changed when we point out what they are doing wrong. We lose nothing and do no harm when we decide to stop judging. OTOH, when I committed to stop judging, I was able to actually learn how to judge properly. It’s something that should only be done with great caution and even fear. You are setting yourself up to be judged when you render judgment! The bible does say that Christians will be involved with judgment in the last days, but I think we’re like annoying students who think we already know everything who can’t be taught. In my experience, we really must commit to not judging before God can teach us how to judge properly.

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