Why So Judgmental?

Why are Christians so judgmental, when it’s obvious that God is all about love? This is a hard question to answer. It’s normal to judge. We all do it. We depend on judgment. We depend on a shared moral code. Distinguishing good from bad preserves the peace. It guides us in our common life, as a community and a nation.

But God tells us not to judge. God tells us to replace judgment with forgiveness. He tells us to love each other as He has loved us. How do we make sense of this?

Suppose you’re sitting in a park on a sunny day. Maybe you’re even reading your Bible. You happen to see a guy drinking a couple of six packs, and he’s getting pretty drunk. You know what the Bible says about drunkenness, so what do you do? It’s really hard not to say, “Man, that guy is a bad person. He needs to change. He needs to find Jesus.”

Well, maybe he does need to find Jesus! Maybe you are right. But before you judge him to be a bad person, think about Jesus. What would Jesus do? I think He would look at the guy and say, “I see his heart. He was born into sin. Who wasn’t? Now he’s sinning. Who isn’t? I think I’ll go talk to him. I’ll go love on him.”

That’s what Jesus does. He doesn’t look at the guy and say, “What a bad person.” Jesus looks at the guy with love and understanding.

If that’s what Jesus does, then why should a Christian, a follower of Jesus, look down on the guy? Some Christians even judge a guy and then expect his admiration. I’ll let you in on something. It doesn’t work.

Some people treat their kids the same way. They drag them to church. They tell them, “You’re bad! You need to do better!” Kids hear that, and guess what? They feel bad!

This is terrible. It’s terrible that kids live in fear of their parents. It turns into fear of God, and I’m not talking about reverential fear. I’m talking about actual, scared fear. They will look at God and literally be scared of His judgment. “Mom and Dad think I’m bad. God must think I’m bad too.”

Teaching children to fear just wounds them. It drives them away from God. That’s not what we want! We want our children’s hearts to fill with love! We want them to love themselves and love their neighbors! But love only happens when children experience God’s love. Not their parents’ judgment.

Let’s go back to the guy in the park, the one you were tempted to judge. Judging him does not help him. It hurts him. It pushes him further away from God. It doesn’t help you either. Judging others hurts you because it draws you away from grace and into a judgment mentality.

Here’s what I try to do. I see that guy in the park, and I think, “Well, in my view, what he’s doing is wrong. I’m not going to go and get drunk with him. Does he need Jesus? Yes. But I’m not going to bring him to Jesus by 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?

How to be Angry

Jesus calls us to follow Him and be His disciples. We are called to serve as Jesus served. Part of our service is helping people achieve greatness, whole and complete as the image-bearers of God. That’s what good servant leaders do. We let people become who they’re going to become.

Servant leaders lead through acts of service. That means we can hear what someone’s asking us to do, and then do it. For that, we need to have an open heart, right? We can’t be stubborn and pig-headed. We need ears to hear and eyes to see. We have to be moldable.

We have to be aware of that in our marriages. We have to be moldable in marriage. In marriage, if you disrespect each other, there is going to be anger. It feels like, “Hold on a second. You’re not respecting me. You’re not treating me like a human being. You’re not telling me who I truly am.” It’s frustrating!

And you’re going to disagree. There will be angry moments. It would be great if we could go into every relationship with no expectations. That’s how it should be. But there will be expectations.  It’s in our nature, right? And where there are expectations, there are failed expectations. If you have expectations — and you will — you’re going to be let down. When you love somebody, you’re so close to them. You’re transparent and you’re vulnerable. You become so open to them that it’s very easy to get your feelings hurt.

That’s why you have to be moldable. You can’t be stubborn and pig-headed just because your expectations weren’t met. That is not a time to get angry! Anger like that is selfish anger, and it’s uncontrolled. Selfish anger says mean things. It tears others down. It throws daggers. It brings up past mistakes. When you lose control, it’s usually because you’re trying to take control. You want your spouse to be a certain way, and when they’re not, you try using anger to control them. That is selfish anger. It lets you wound people with your words. You start tearing them down because you want them to feel your pain. That is a dangerous place to go.

Jesus taught us self-controlled anger. Self-controlled anger is being able to say, “I’m really upset right now. I’m mad, and I’d like to talk this out. What you did hurt me, and I’m kind of angry about it. I would like to tell you why.” And then you talk it out. You can talk it out with patience. Love is patient, right? Love is kind.

So when you’re angry or impatient about something, you’ve got to be able to tell your wife or your husband. And then you can talk it out. Love will always win. Self-controlled anger will always win, because it allows healing. When you can talk it through, the wound can be exposed and healed.

Love will always win because Jesus sent the Holy Spirit to guide us. He told us, “I don’t expect you to be perfect, nor do I expect you to handle everything like I do. That’s why I’m giving you grace. I will always love you. I will always be proud of you. You have my unmerited favor. But realize: Don’t judge. Don’t fall into selfish anger. Remember, you have flesh on your bone. Until I come back, you’re going to mess up just as much as anyone else. You’re no better than anybody else.Realize that, and don’t judge.”

See you Monday.

Stuck in Judgment? Freedom in Jesus!

Too often we criticize and judge each other, instead of just loving on one another. One reason is that a lot of us are stuck. I don’t mean everybody! But a lot of us are.

Some of us are stuck in the idea that faith is a fire insurance policy. “Oh I’m saved,” we might think, “so I’m not going to go to hell now.” That’s such a huge relief that we forget to live a new life in our true identity in Christ.

Some of us are stuck trying to justify our sinful nature. We do it by looking at other people and seeing all their sin. We look at them and say, “At least I’m not as bad as them. Look at all their sin!”

Some of us are stuck in the fear that we have to live perfectly. The Bible says that when you find Jesus, you’ll find freedom. It says the truth shall set you free. Freedom in Jesus! But I see people get stuck in legalism. “Now I have to be right and not wrong. I can’t have a bad thought. I can’t say anything bad. I can’t, I can’t, I can’t.” They focus so much on sin itself — and not doing it — that they end up sinning more. And as a result, they end up judging more. They end up criticizing more. They start trying to get everybody else to believe what they believe, by guilting and shaming them into it.

Do you remember when you met Jesus? You were in a really bad place. And I doubt that anybody shamed you into believing in Him. I think somebody loved you, and as you felt His love, creative and unconditional, you said, “I love God and God loves me!” But we forget. In our controlling nature, we start judging people. We start telling them how bad they are. Then we say, “You need Jesus because you’re really bad.”

You know what? They already know they’re bad. There’s something inside every one of us that says we’re not inherently good. Reminding people of that does not help them. You want to help them? You want to save them? You want them to know Jesus? Love on them. Don’t focus on their sins.

Sinners loved Jesus because He knew how to hang with them and love on them, and not condemn or judge them. He looked at people and said, “If you could only know who I intended for you to be, and not who you are right now! Then you would understand your true identity. If you could only see Me for who I am! Put your identity in Me, not in your sin, or in how bad or good you think you are, or in the judgments other people put on you. Know that you are holy and righteous! You will find joy and fulfillment in Me.”

In our flesh and bones, we sin. But that’s not who we are. If we can live in the understanding of who we are, we won’t sin as much. Plus, we won’t react as much. We won’t look all the time at how sinful other people are. We won’t get stuck in judgment.

Instead we will realize that by the blood of Jesus, we are saved. We are holy and righteous! When we look at others, in our love we will yearn for them to be saved. We won’t look at them in judgment and condemnation. We will yearn for them to see and understand that when you accept Christ, you thrive! You are happy in your new life!

I yearn for that for everyone! See you Thursday.

Winning the Battle

Christians know the battles that go on inside men’s souls. We’ve been through it too. So we shouldn’t go around blasting people, telling them that they’re wrong or calling them idiots. We shouldn’t accuse them or say, “You’re a terrible person.” Jesus didn’t even do that when Peter betrayed him. Peter denied even knowing Jesus, and yet Jesus never showed any anger. We need to reach out to people in love.

Here’s what we can say: “Man, I know the battle that’s going on inside your soul. I’ve had it myself. And the only person who can make it right is Jesus. I’m here to tell you that Jesus loves you. He can handle the situation you’re in right now. He can handle the battle over right and wrong, over what is good and what is evil. I just want to love you and share with you, and show you who Jesus is.”

This is very hard to do. I’m not saying it’s easy. And we will mess up, because we have flesh. While flesh is on our bones, sin is there. It is going to be there. It’s always going to be there. We’re always going to sin. It will happen.

But I believe Jesus knew that. I believe God knows that. And that’s why Jesus died, so that now when God looks at us, He sees perfect people. And even though I sin, I have the blood of Jesus on me. Immediately I’m wiped clean.

It might seem that sin is free because we’re forgiven. But that doesn’t mean we’ll live as if we have fire insurance. We won’t just do whatever we want. We won’t decide to live in sin just because we’re covered by the blood of Jesus and God thinks we’re perfect. You see, when we’re saved, our identities change completely. We become saints. In our new identity, we don’t want to sin. We want to live in grace. We want to live righteously and justly, because that’s who we are. That’s who we have become. We live by the Spirit, not by the flesh. We avoid the sins of the flesh simply because we want to. We want to enjoy the fruits of the Spirit, which are love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, and self-control. Who doesn’t want to enjoy all of that? That’s how we want to live.

And that’s justice. THAT’s justice, living out of those things. When you find someone that doesn’t live in those things, and you share the love of Jesus in such a way that they will want to live in those things, then that too is justice. That is taking something that is wrong, and making it right. We need to take that approach more often.

See you Thursday.

Intimacy and Judgment with Children

Last time I wrote about how the the Spirit can transform your intimate relationships. I used the example of approaching your spouse with an attitude of encouragement instead of criticism. How much more can you accomplish if you take the same attitude with your children?

I want a safe environment for dialogue with my kids. I want my kids to be able to talk to me without fear.

“Hey dad, I messed up.”

“What did you do?”

“Well, I was speeding. I got a ticket.”

“Right. So what are we going to do about that? Let’s talk about it.” Continue reading

Intimacy and Judgment

Jesus made the twelve disciples his intimates. He sat with them all the time. He would ask them questions. Once he asked them, “Who do people say that I am?” The disciples replied that people were saying Jesus was John the Baptist, or Elijah. Jesus said, “Okay. Who do you say I am?” And Peter said, “You are the Christ.” Then Jesus warned them to tell no one. Mark 8:27-30

You see, he built intimate relationships with the disciples. He talked to them, asked their opinions, and made them His confidants.

He went on talking to them, and the Bible tells us:

He began to teach them that the Son of Man must suffer many things, and be rejected by the elders and chief priests and scribes, and be killed, and after three days rise again. He spoke this word openly. Then Peter took Him aside and began to rebuke Him. But when He had turned around and looked at His disciples, He rebuked Peter, saying, “Get behind Me, Satan! For you are not mindful of the things of God, but the things of men.” Mark 8:31-33

That’s amazing. Jesus looked at Peter, His dear friend, and said to him, “Get behind Me, Satan.” Continue reading

Judgment and Blessings

Do not judge, and you will not be judged. Do not condemn, and you will not be condemned. Forgive, and you will be forgiven. Give, and it will be given to you. A good measure, pressed down, shaken together and running over, will be poured into your lap. For with the measure you use, it will be measured to you. Luke 6:37-38

There’s Jesus telling us not to judge, but judgment is such a basic part of being human. Baseball is full of judgments. The media illustrates that better than anything. If you’re doing well, the media tells you you’re great. And if you’re not doing well, the media tells you that too. Not only do they tell you you’re bad, they tell you why you’re bad. They tell you why you shouldn’t be there, and why you should be traded. They even question why the GM signed you!

Every baseball player is paid based on a judgment. I’m paid based on a positive judgment. And if they make a negative judgment, I don’t get re-signed. We’re full of these judgments. It’s a normal human thing. Continue reading