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Two Ways to Stop Being So Judgmental

Two Ways to “Stop Being So Judgmental”
     “You’re so judgmental.”
 

     Stings, doesn’t it? Begs the question “How can I stop being so judgmental?”
     

     Short answer: curl up and die.
 

     Not helpful? Okay, I’ll give you the long answer. But, for context, I have to  go way above my pay grade and make a football analogy:

     Any pass has at least three parts: the ball, the throw and the receiver. Throw a perfectly good ball poorly and the receiver will need a miracle to catch it. But, even with a regulation ball and a great pass, there are three things that will result in an incomplete every time: wickedness, pride (mockery), or a wounded receiver.


Gimme the Ball!
     A friend asks for advice. A regulation football represents God’s wisdom. So, you throw it to them where they are. Should be a complete, right? Instead, they snap back at you and accuse you of being judgmental and “holier than thou”. For weeks, there’s enmity between you. You feel rejected. They’re offended. Yet, in your heart, you’re between a rock and a hard place because they asked for the ball and you delivered. What the dilly?!

Incomplete?!

What’s Their Problem That Was a Great Pass?!
     Wisdom invites two distinct responses: a “toward” response “growing wisdom” (complete) or an “away” response of insult/abuse/hate (incomplete). The toward response is born at the intersection of a healthy heart and the tendency of wisdom to add to itself. The away shows up at the intersection of unhealthy conditions of the heart and a natural tendency to protect that heart from further harm.   

Scripture tells us:

“Whoever corrects a mocker invites insult;
    whoever rebukes a wicked man incurs abuse.
Do not rebuke a mocker or he will hate you;
    rebuke a wise man and he will love you.
Instruct a wise man and he will be wiser still;
    teach a righteous man and he will add to his learning. (Prov. 9.7-9)”

      Ultimately, how we react to wisdom is a symptom of our overall spiritual health: your doctor may run tests to tell what’s wrong with you, yes? If he gives you a plate of wisdom and you eat it, the proverb above tells us you’re healthy – you were just suffering from a slight case of ignorance in that particular area, but if you add this wisdom to your learning – you’re cured! Reject it though, our proverb says you’ve got a case of wickedness or mockeritis.

 The Truth
    We have to judge. We’re designed to judge. Our brain is constantly comparing and contrasting things and making conclusions that could easily be classified as “judgments”. If you or I saw someone about to fall into an open manhole, we’d warn them, right? But, if we’re a Christian following the above logic, we’d be considered “judgmental”.  If we lied down on the warm pavement of a busy street, we could easily be classified as “having poor judgment”.

     Jesus’s teaching on the plank and the speck of sawdust (see Matthew 7) illustrates that we are not to pass final judgment (Greek: krino) on others, but to judge them or their behavior in light of our own faults and the fact that we, too will be judged. This implies a more compassionate confrontation than I or my friend may have in mind above. But, Jude 23 tells us we must “snatch” them from the fire – which may be abrupt and could be considered harsh if not explained.
 

Freedom
     Judging is necessary for survival. But in Christ, we are free to judge a behavior and free from having to condemn the “behaver” in the process (Greek: krino, brings a connotation of final judgment and condemnation). We are also called to love one another, abruptly pull someone in danger from their danger, and to consider others better than ourselves. Not everyone receives wisdom well. Thus, the only other way to win 100% of the time is to pass wisdom only to people who are “all-wisdom, all-the-time” instead of those who are wounded, wicked, or proud.


     Good luck with that.
 

     In a Genesis 3 world, we will never fully get this to work seamlessly. There are creases, folds, and tears in everyone’s life and even godly advice delivered with best intentions can set off a fire storm of resent. There is great news for those situations – Jesus died for the fire starter and the fire breather.  But, He also promises reward to for everything we have done in obedience for His name and by the Spirit. Suffer persecution, even from followers of Christ, and you will be rewarded as an overcomer. Perhaps not right now… but God promises a retirement plan that is out of this world.

In Christ,

AP

The Blame Game – Monday Morning Momentum

“A man’s own foolishness leads him astray,yet his heart rages against the Lord.” (Prov. 19.3, HCSB)

     So, whose fault is it when things go wrong? Do you ever have a problem giving credit where it’s due? How about blame… Me, too.


     In my line of work I see a lot of relational chaos – someone did someone wrong, yelled at someone else who didn’t do anything intentionally wrong, etc., etc. A good majority of marital problems we’re called in to untangle are rooted in unmet expectations, but second place often comes from misplaced blame and misdirected anger. Hence, a look at Prov. 19.3.


Watch Where You Point That Thing
     We often joke that “man plans, God laughs”. But Prov 16:9 and Prov 21:31 [rollover links for the verses] remind us that we can plot and plan, but God is ultimately responsible for outcomes. However, when we’re doing (or have done) something foolish, sometimes I think we expect God (Father of mercy and grace) to step in and protect us from our consequences. What’s that all about? Haven’t we been warned about the fruit of foolishness? So, why do we end up with a heart that rages against God when we’ve sown in foolishness?

Problem #1 – Blaming God for appropriate consequences. Reaping a fool’s reward is a predictable outcome: “I keep planting apple seeds, but can’t seem to harvest oranges.” No kidding. Fool’s fault, not God’s.

     It was pointed out to me yesterday how often Job’s wife is presented as a nag or just plain mean. “Curse God and die!” (2:9) And, the reader gasps at her blasphemy, right? But, while Job is grieving his losses, how’s she feeling? Isn’t she, too, grieving the loss of her husband’s fortune, her children, and now her husband’s health is in question? Can we really blame her for her outburst? While we have behind the scenes information about what’s really happening, she doesn’t. In fact, if Job is indeed the oldest book in the canon of scripture, she’s the case study – how does that feel? Would you be tempted, in her shoes -grieving, broken, and uncertain of her/her husband’s future, to poorly aim the blame?


     The point of Job’s story is the Job worships God despite his circumstances and we can/should, too. Terrible things may happen regardless of our righteousness and right living – we live in a broken world with a crafty, broken enemy who hates us bitterly. Problem #2 – Blaming God for Satan’s work or the consequences of a fallen world. Ultimately, our worshipful response to terrible circumstances can teach angels how to worship God, see Eph 3:10., not out of obligation but out of gratitude and unconditional love.

Be Encouraged

     I am often encouraged when scripture sheds light on the fact that there is a reason for suffering, a purpose to pain, and an over-arching plan in harsh circumstances that will ultimately point greater glory to God. So, today, let’s consider that with problem 1, we’ve already been warned. God, who loves us enough to die for us, left us great encouragement to search out wisdom at great cost and warns us of the many consequences of folly in advance.  Praise God.

     But, with problem 2, we must keep in mind the fact that at the judgment seat of Christ, we will all see what was really going on behind the scenes as each believer’s life is reviewed in full – we will not only see God’s greater and higher plan in majestic detail, but also potentially learn the struggles others were facing, the fears they were weighing, and the wounds they may have been guarding when they retaliated against us, blamed us for their own folly, etc. We live in a fallen world with a devious foe who will stop at nothing to mar and desecrate us – God’s crowning creations. Let us not give him more credit than he is due, nor allow him to embitter us against God when his nefarious plans “succeed”.

Blessing

     May we shake no more fists at heaven, but take a knee for what God restored for Job and may eventually reward us with at the judgement seat – a reward that lasts forever. May we give God the glory, not the blame when things go sour and keep proper perspective when pain, destruction, and trial comes our way.

I’m an Addict. Lord, Kick my Habit!

Let no those gloat over me who are my enemies without cause;
let not those who hate me without reason maliciously wink the eye.
They do not speak peaceably, but devise false accusations against those who live quietly in the land.
They gape at me and say, “Aha! Aha!

With our own eyes we have seen it.” Psalm 35:19-21, NIV1984

     I have an addiction. More often than I’d like to admit, I battle with approval addiction. I used to justify it by preaching that I’m just “chief reputation officer of myself”. Within moments of opening a conversation with me, you’re likely to hear any number of statements that explain or defend my character. Jon Ortberg calls it “impression management”, things like “I would never…” and “I normally don’t…” We all have a tendency to guard against being misrepresented by what’s unspoken or mischaracterized by others’ perceptions of us. Unchecked, it becomes and all encompassing addiction inextricably glued to us by the powerful adhesive forces of social media.

     A year or two ago, I had to make a few radical choices to solve a very unique set of problems that were facing us. We’re pretty sure the God gave us the solutions because a) they were incredibly effective and b) neither of us would normally have thought so far outside the box in our own strength. Recently, some friends of ours learned about what I did and made vague comments in disapproval. My ego felt bruised and feared my reputation was tarnished, at least in their eyes.

     Ever felt misrepresented? Ever felt like you just needed to issue a public statement to clear your name of some misperception, gossip, or worse, lie about you? Ever felt like there’s a person or people watching your worst move(s), just waiting to say “Aha!!!”? Ever felt like writing an open letter or posting a well-sharpened retort on Facebook designed to bring your enemies to shame and clear your name in one fell-swoop?

     King David – the anointed of the Lord – was plagued by scandal in his rule, even before he ever came to power. Psalm 35 was likely written when he was being pursued by Saul. So, it is before he could have leveraged the resources of the Kingdom of Israel to defend his good name. However, his response to the scandal, the “Aha”‘s and the “GOTCHA”s is no less correct:

“…rise to my defense! Contend for me, my God and Lord. Vindicate me in your righteousness, O Lord my God’ do not let them gloat over me. (Psalm 35:23-24)”

Be Encouraged

     Even the great ruler of Israel had “Gotchas” after him. You and I have Gotchas after us. Learning the difference between control over our reputation vs. influence on our reputation is a crucial step toward the peace of God. Holding onto control is a sure sign of addiction. Submitting to God in this area offers freedom and recovery from addiction that can’t be found anywhere else.

     Are you addicted to approval? Are you “cautious about your reputation” (addicted to approval)? Are you bitter with your accusers? One day, we will all appear before the judgment seat of Christ (2 Cor 5:10) and the truth of what you have done or haven’t done will be aired in front of the Lord. Fighting for your reputation is often fighting against the Lord. What peace might we find if we surrendered our reputation (and vindication) to the Lord now, instead of waiting for the judgment seat to come?

Context is King – Care for a Crown?

       
   
 

Want one of these in your 401K?

Context is King.
     But, Jesus is the King of Kings and He offers not only salvation for those who believe, but also some desperately needed context for our worldview.

     Trials and troubles and annoyances and tragedies exist. No getting around that in a Genesis 3 world. So, Jesus gave us a heads-up – “In this life, you will have troubles.” But, what is the context in which we are to interpret these troubles? In chapter 15 of John’s gospel, Jesus has just spent a bunch of time telling his disciples some bad news: the world is going to hate them “for no reason (John 15:25)”. Then He moves forward into the “you will have trouble” part of the speech. As if the “they’re going to hate you” part wasn’t bad enough, He explains two things:

  1. “I’m telling you this so you won’t get freaked out when it happens. I’m giving you a heads-up now that I’m on my way out.” (John 16:1 – paraphrased)
  2. “It’s going to be so bad, people are going to try to kill you because of me, thinking by killing you they’re serving Me.” (John 16:2-4 – paraphrased) “So, what do you guys want for dessert?”

    Can we skip to the end of the story? For some context?

The End That Satisfies the Means
    Here’s why “the end of a matter is better than its beginning… (Ecc 7:8)”: At the “end of the story” – Revelation 2 & 3, where God dictates seven letters for John to address to the seven churches in Asia Minor, Jesus reminds them who He is. “I am he who searches hearts and minds, and I will repay each of you according to your deeds. (v. 23)… To him who overcomes and does my will to the end, I will give authority over the nations (v. 26)” At the Bema seat of Christ (2 Cor. 5.10), believers in Christ will receive their eternal rewards, including many crowns promised throughout scripture.

    Bottom line – in a world where trouble is the everyday landscape of our walk, everything you and I do [within God’s will for us and that’s not done with selfish motive (Mt. 6:2, Mt. 6:5, Mt. 6:16)] will be repaid with eternal reward.

     So, here’s the compensation structure when it comes to persevering under trial:

  1. Get paid now – “Atta boy!!!” (remarkably temporary)
  2. Get paid in eternity – “I will repay each of you according to your deeds.” or
  3. Both – “do everything without arguing or complaining. (Phil. 2:14)” and “I will repay each of you according to your deeds. (Rev. 2:23b)”

     We’ve been warned. We’ve been told it won’t be easy, but given the Holy Spirit to guide, empower, and protect us. We’ve been given the context of our trials, persecution, and our eternal rewards. We can take the recognition from men now or we can take a rain check in our eternal 401K. What would you prefer, a compliment that lasts a little while or a portfolio that lasts forever?

    If you’re a man within 30 minutes of California Dreaming in Duluth, GA – do whatever you have to do to get there tomorrow morning (Friday, 05.11.2012) at 6:30 for Men Step Up. There, we’ll be thinking out loud about the lies of the enemy and the truth that sets men free, specifically this stuff. Hope to see you there!

AP

Stepping Up to Jesus

     What do you think of when you hear the words “Judgment Day”? A Terminator movie? A meanie, cosmic judge out to get you with an earth-sized gavel? A grueling grill-session where you have to “splain yourself” in front of a tribune of angels and the Trinity? A fantastic awards show leading up to a massive celebration of the glory and greatness of God?

     Only the last answer comes close to what the bible most clearly teaches that we will be “rewarded”, “repaid”, or “recompensed” for what we’ve done in the body “whether good or bad” (2 Cor. 5.9-10) The bad news is “judgment day is coming”. The good news is “judgment day is coming”! For those who are in Christ, it will be an amazing day when rewards, positions, and crowns will be given out by the King of Kings and Lord of Lords.

     In April, Men Step Up (Gwinnett) will take four weeks to celebrate 5 years of ministry at the ugly crack of dawn in the beautiful setting of the restaurant “California Dreaming”. The night of their last day of that celebration will be punctuated by the coolest date night ever. Rock-star quality worship singer Rolin Williamson will take the stage at Crosspointe Church in Duluth, GA and play the opening song for a production of “That Day”, a 2 act, 1 man show about Dan Matthewson, a guy who gets to meet Jesus at the judgment seat.

     This show has played to packed houses from Alpharetta to Gainesville and is already being looked at for later performances in the year (as far away as Dallas, TX – Glory to God!!!) It’s been highly acclaimed not only for its entertainment value, but for its impact on the faith of those who have seen it. Seasons of Life Ministries is very excited to partner with Jesus Spoken Here Ministries and Men Step Up Gwinnett to give you a look at what that day might be like when we all come face to face with Jesus. Entertaining, encouraging, exhorting… and God gets all the glory. NICE!

     Tickets are now on sale – $50 each, which includes dinner (catered by California Dreaming), the music, and the show. There will also be valuable ministry takeaway for everyone in attendance. A couple of things to know, though – this is a great environment to bring someone you know who’s “unchurched” or wrestling with their faith. It’s also an event we’re hoping to use to minister to those in ministry – a few local pastors and lay leaders from other local ministries.

     In this, we could use your help, and I know this month I’ve added a lot of “would you consider”s to the blog. But, would you consider helping us to scholarship a few people to this event? We know $50 is pretty steep for a ticket. We also know there’s a lot of value in return. But, regardless of return, if you ain’t got $50, you ain’t got it. Our hopes are to raise $400 to $500 to not only scholarship a few needy couples in the door for a great date night, but we’d also like to foot the bill for their babysitter that night (unless you’d like to volunteer – which we’d welcome you to do!). So, there it is, another “consider” for you to consider! Would you consider it?

     For more info on “That Day”, go to “www.thatday.info“. Yeah, that was easy to remember!