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?!
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.
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.
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.
We have this really great, point-and-shoot camera that I got for Christmas a few years ago. Some of you may have already tuned out, because you believe “great, point-and-shoot camera” is an oxymoron. I understand. Work with me here. It’s taken hundreds of photos of our four kids, especially Presleigh (3) and the twins (20 mos). But, lately, the oxymorons are right. It’s not that great. It’s taken its share of hard knocks and now 9 out of 10 shots it takes come out just sliiiiightly… blurry. It leans toward blurry.
Question: which way do you lean?
I have this problem – an idolatry problem, really – that the Holy Spirit (often as channeled through my “thank-God-for-your-prophetic-discernment” wife) is working on abolishing from my life. The idol I’ve often come to worship is progress. If you’ve seen our one man show “That Day”, you can relate to a guy who looks back on his life and realizes if time were a bucket of paint, his wife and kids would be really pale and his job, wellllll painted.
I lean toward progress. Today, I’m grateful for that leaning, as I read the opening line of Proverbs, chapter 12. “Whoever loves discipline loves knowledge, but he who hates reproof is stupid.” Some translate the word “ba’ar” as “stupid”, others as “brutish”. Hey, I’m not sure which one is worse, but I don’t want to be either. How about you?
“reproof: rebuke, correction,
I’m grateful that I lean toward progress, because there’s something about me that doesn’t want to be stupid. Really, there’s something about me that wants to lean toward improvement and constant innovation. Can you relate? The hard part about this is here: “reproof” is defined as “rebuke, correction, punishment, chastisement” – none of which is a very comfortable, fluffy, cuddly word, either. I’d rather lean out and away from punishment or chastisement, if I had my way in the natural. But, I’m more comfortable with those prickly words than I am with “stupid/brutish”.
A few months ago, we went through some of the greatest trials we’ve ever experienced as believers in Christ, as a ministry, as a family. As we walked through it, Cristine remarked how grateful she was for the presence of one particular guy in my life who prayed with us through it. He reminded me of the first lines of the book of James and summarized the “consider it all joy, my brethren, when you encounter various trials” part as follows:
“Trials are necessary.”
Often, leaning in to one thing means leaning out of another, by necessity or even default. However, when it comes to trials, leaning into trial seems the most honest way of leaning into Christ. The questions that remains are – are we willing to pay the price to “be perfect and complete, lacking in nothing”? Are we willing to love discipline in order to obtain the knowledge wrapped in its precious core? Are we willing to love reproof in order to grow beyond stupid? What are some of the possible future benefits of this trial (if not at a minimum, heavenly rewards for perseverance), that make the current discomfort of the trial worthwhile?
“Trust in the Lord with all your heart and lean not on your own understanding. In all your ways acknowledge Him and He will make your paths straight. (Prov. 3.5)”
“Consider it all joy, my brethren, when you encounter various trials, knowing that the testing of your faith produces endurance. And, let endurance have its perfect result, so that you may become perfect and complete, lacking in nothing. (Jas. 1.2-4 NASB)”
PRAY: “Lord, grow my appetite for discipline and reproof so that I may become perfect and complete, lacking nothing. Help me to lean into You and appreciate You in the midst of pain, discomfort, and/or disease.”
I’m Not Here to be an “I Told You So”
Perhaps one of the most difficult lessons in this life is learning that people are going to do what they want to do despite godly counsel. Then again, I’m a father of four, so it’s bound to happen sooner or later, right? This month, I want to focus in on the importance of discipleship before it’s required and the implications it has on the turn of season from single to married. Bottom line(s), like my pilot friends will tell you “it’s better to be on the ground (single) wishing you were in the air (married) than to be in the air wishing you were on the ground”; and discipleship matters, especially when obedience is the result.
Watch Out for the Brick!!!
My wife has such an interesting mix of spiritual gifts – a heart for pastoring, but a gift for exhorting. Not only is she street smart, but she’d got a direct line to the Father, who sometimes gives her inside information. Some might call it “word of knowledge”. Some would call it “prophetic”. I sometimes have to call it “spooky”. It’s especially spooky when she’s dead right about it.
This week, I got to catch up with a guy that asked us for wisdom and counsel in a relationship he was pursuing. I was kind yet firm. I offered very little opinion and much scripture. Cristine… When she spoke, I thought I saw a brick come out of her mouth and hit the guy in the head. It wasn’t entirely gentle. Blunt, clear, and true, but ouch. I could see the guy squirm in his seat. I could also see, by the look on his face that my wife was right about what she told him.
Months went by and here I am sitting down with him again – heartbroken. What Cristine had shared with him was utterly accurate and painfully real. He and his wife were now struggling through deal-breaker after deal-breaker in their marriage and it looked like this could have been prevented if he’d taken the advice my brick-throwing bride had given him months earlier. This isn’t an article about how we’re so great and others need to bow down to our massive Hans & Franz sized biblical biceps. It’s about how great this week’s conversation went.
See, this guy had married a wounded woman. I personally believe that when it comes to woundedness, “the tide goes out of the harbor as soon as you say ‘I do’.” Meaning that if you have junk in your harbor from past shipwrecks, it will become most visible after the altar, not before. Well, it’s low tide and their harbor is loaded with flotsam and jetsam: hurts, pains, fears, wrongs, unspoken expectations, minimized weaknesses… Since the wedding, wounds in her life had begun to consume her, him, and their marriage. Yet “Tom” was so steadfast. I absolutely, beyond a shadow of a doubt, love the attitude of Christ this guy was wearing – he knew in the middle of fights, blow-ups, and tit-for-tat’s that he could not leave this woman even if she asked him to. This guy had studied the scripture and taken the time to think out loud with other guys in his life.
The point of the story is to update you on some of the great things God is doing in the lives of men and women willing to “seek [Him] with all of [their] heart(s) (Jer. 29.13)”. It’s also to provoke you to action.
1. Will you pray for “Tom” and his marriage? You don’t need to know his real name, God will get who you’re praying for, because He’s… well… omniscient.
2. Pass this article on to a friend of yours who’s in a great unmarried relationship. Pass it on to another friend who’s in a terrible unmarried relationship. Then, purposely don’t tell each friend which one you think they are.
3. If you’re engaged or in a serious relationship, contact your local church about their ministry to the engaged – don’t walk through the engagement process on your own – we didn’t and we’re thoroughly grateful for it. Don’t consider meeting with other couples who have been married for many years – do it. We did that, and still meet with them from time to time. It has been a vital part of our marriage growth curve. “He who walks with the wise grows wise, but the companion of fools suffers harm. (Prov. 13.20)”
I saw a billboard (actually from our home church) that says “Who Needs Church, Anyway?” This comes on the heels of a conversation I was having with a friend of mine who 1) considers himself a believer in Christ 2) doesn’t go to church, yet 3) is frustrated about the condition of the world today and how far from God people are. I know, some of you are already connecting dots. When I pressed him for a reason, he confessed that church always makes him feel “convicted” or emotional. I understood. It’s kind of like saying “lifting weights always makes my muscles ache”.
Yeah, that’s kind of the point, isn’t it? Well, one of them, anyway.
As the conversation went deeper, I could smell something in his story that was just a bit sour. This was a guy who, like many of us, had made the entire church experience about Jesus. Okay, no, not at all. Like many of us, he had made the whole experience of “going to church” all about himself. Yet, a car is not all about the wheels, any more than a body is all about a pinky or a chest. Neither is the body of Christ about one member (or even many members).
As I read the account of the church’s growth in Acts and as we talk about our love for the church against the backdrop of the many modern day maladies plaguing it, we can’t deny the fact that the believers had everything in common, sold their stuff to help those in need, even launched a relief effort because of a prophetic vision (Acts 11.29) before text messaging!!! Some guy sold his property and donated the money to help the poor. Jesus had told them all before He left the planet that He had a new command (Greek: kainos: fresh, unprecedented, uncommon, new) love one another. At no time was the church about “what’s in it for me”.
Are we tracking together?
So, this week, a great topic for conversation could be – what do others have to get out of church? What do I bring to the table? What unique gifts, perspective, or large leaning shoulder do I bring with me that could benefit someone else?
This week, at ONE TH1NG, Jesse Whitfield will be setting up a discussion for some brave guys to chew on at the tables around index cards and golf pencils – what does someone else need in the current economy that you could bring to the table? See also Samuel 23.16 ”
And Saul’s son Jonathan went to David at Horesh and helped him find strength in God.
What is it about a wise man that he knows sometimes you just have to be a go to the guy guy? Sometimes, it’s about being available, being present, just showing up. Paul wrote to the church in Rome about how he longed to be with them so they could be mutually encouraged by each others’ faith. What is it about being present? What is it about being brave enough to be humble that can help strong men grow stronger in their faith, their walk, their Lord? If you’re wise, prudent, brave, or just desperate for truth, we’ll see you at a table at the Cabernet on Windward at 6:30 AM.