3 Funny Things About Judging Others (That Might Help Us Stop)

lucyIn the Gospels, Jesus imposes strong conditions around our tendency to judge others:

Why do you look at the speck in your brother’s eye but don’t notice the log in your own eye? Or how can you say to your brother, ‘Let me take the speck out of your eye,’ and look, there’s a log in your eye? Hypocrite! First take the log out of your eye, and then you will see clearly to take the speck out of your brother’s eye. (Matthew 7:3-5)

It’s not that we’re never supposed to identify sin. What often flies under the radar in this passage – especially to those who misappropriate it to justify a permissive lifestyle – is the final verse, numero cinco. It says the goal is to help the brother remove his speck. If we’re not allowed to address each other’s sin, a primary mechanism of church health (as identified throughout Paul’s letters) is taken away from us.

Here are three things I’ve noticed about judging (yes, because I’ve done it):

 

1. We don’t always realize we’re doing it.

Judgment is not always a burning, eye-twitching hate that consumes our entire being. It’s more a sidelong, glancing thought, or a steady but subtle buzz like a program running in the background. That’s why we get away with it.

Catching our minds in the act of judgment requires an active monitoring of our thoughts that few of us want to be bothered with. It’s a little like Lucy and Ethel on their assembly line of chocolate candies, with the speed cranked up to Red Bull Cheetah Space Warp. But it’s necessary if we want to be holy.

 

2. We’re sometimes right.

Oftentimes, when we’re judging someone, we’re correct. When you look at a friend and go “Man, he just has to make everything about himself”, you might be right. When you hear someone talking about another behind their back yet again and go “she is such a gossip”, well, you’re not wrong. Some people are kind enough to make judgment obvious. That’s another reason we get away with it.

But Jesus’ commands in Matthew 7 don’t assume we’re wrong. The “log in the eye” parable grants the speck in your brother’s eye. Jesus never denies it. He just says, “knock it off until you have a better attitude”. If we’re to help a brother concerning sin, Jesus says, then we’re to do so from a profound awareness of our own. It changes our entire demeanor.

 

3. We judge those we love and know the most.

We don’t just judge already-disliked people in our D-lists or outer circles. We judge our closest friends and family and get away with it because of #2 – all the while loving and admiring them to pieces simultaneously. Isn’t this stuff weird?

 

By the grace of God, I’m praying for deliverance from these habits. It starts with remembering my own sin before I ponder others’. An unpleasant expedition, but worth it. May we all follow the Spirit’s leading in these things.

 

I’m glad you tuned in today. If you found this post to be of value, please feel free to share it on social media. Thanks a bunch!

 

It’s Not About Our Dreams

One of the most important articles I’ve read for a while.

Into the Foolishness of God

I love reading people’s differing reactions to big, juicy, topics of our day. I shouldn’t, but I do. The way people perceive the same things so differently fascinated me. My blog friend Jen Oshman wrote an amazing articleyesterday at the Gospel Coalition reviewing the newest self-help/Christian book by motivational speaker Rachel Hollis. I would highly recommend reading her thoughts, they are fair and Biblically sound. For something marketed to Christian women, there is reason to be concerned. The book pushes Jesus far out to the sidelines and encourages women to be selfish, self-absorbed, shameless social climbers and dream-chasers. Although I wouldn’t read it, lots of women I know do choose to pick it up and soak it in. They quote it and post excerpts because it makes them feel something, it stirs the mind, body and heart to get it together and do better.

We have to be able…

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Snow and Suffering Can Melt Fast

evergreen-1802157_1280The last two winters have been brutal.

More specifically, this last one was mild and forgetful of its job right up until February and then got brutal to catch up (reminds me of the Seahawks offense). Constant negative temperatures, almost daily blizzards. Considering my fifteen-mile daily commute, this was immensely tiresome. I’d say something melodramatic like “I nearly died three times a week in this weather”, except frankly we Montanans are so used to roadside near-death experiences that they’re routine now.

But I was amazed by this: weather can change awful fast.

Theoretically, fall and spring are transitional seasons. That’s not really how it works here. It’s summer, summer, summer, then BOOM maybe a week or two of something in between before the snow comes. It’s winter, winter, winter, then BOOM it’s pretty warm and the flowers start blooming.

All of a sudden, this week, the brutal cold just evaporated. The sun was suddenly shining, the average temperature jumped by twenty degrees, and not even the highest heaps of snow in parking lots are withstanding the healing radiation. It is melting swiftly, and soon the world will look as if winter never happened.

God can do this, too – with suffering.

Jesus heals people whose winter of discontent has lasted over a decade. It just comes out of nowhere. Long after they’ve exhausted every avenue and come to the end of themselves, these people find Jesus on their doorstep and dive for the hem of his robe. BOOM. No gradual change, just…sudden wholeness.

In Acts 3, Peter heals a man crippled from birth. The man had never even known how to walk, yet there he is after his encounter with Peter, leaping and praising God like he’d never missed a day of ambulation.

How surreal, how stunning such sudden transformation must have been!

God does not always bring such whiplash-inducing changes into our lives, but these stories serve to teach us that sometimes he does. And it needn’t be instantaneous to bring whiplash. Change that comes in weeks or months can be just as dizzying, just as joyful. As some say, “once God does move, he hits the throttle.”

God makes up for suffering. These people had remarkable faith to remember it, to dive for Jesus’ robe even after years of disappointment. May their example teach us.

It’s Okay for Groaning To Be Part of Your Life — Christy Fitzwater

“Wednesday Hump Day,” I said to him last night before we went to sleep. He’ll go up to Glacier Bible College and be Professor Fitzwater again today, teaching students this week about the life of Christ. I’ll go stand in front of high school students and teach them sentences in Spanish about the gospel. We…

via It’s Okay for Groaning To Be Part of Your Life — Christy Fitzwater

Praying St. Patrick’s Breastplate

Typically the only green I care about on St. Patrick’s Day is the tip money I get, but there is a prayer I stumbled upon a few years ago that I’m praying this morning. It’s kind of incredible.

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Christ with me,
Christ before me,
Christ behind me,
Christ in me,
Christ beneath me,
Christ above me,
Christ on my right,
Christ on my left,…

via Praying St. Patrick’s Breastplate

Talking to a Generation in Pain

storm-3329982_640A childhood bouncing between foster homes, never once getting to stay and just be “gotten”.

The friend whose sibling just stopped talking.

Years of chronic pain from, of all things, falling out of a chair wrong.

This week has been a rough reminder of the valley through which an entire generation is slowly plodding en masse. My friends’ stories are piling up.

Feeling invisible because your siblings on either side get more attention.

Miscarriage.

An occupational disease from an employer that obscured working conditions to save money.

Loneliness – not just that of being single, but of being single without family or friends because of something “off” in the personality.

A denomination shifting doctrine (or shifting back) and leaving some behind, unsure of  their place in God’s kingdom despite how hard they’ve served.

Being attuned to poverty in every direction and unable to stop it all.

Coming home from the battlefield and wanting to end it all because of the carnage witnessed and the brothers left behind.

A knot of emotion, manifesting physically in the stomach, that just will not stop screaming lies hour after hour, week after week, year after year no matter what medication is tried.

And to top it all off, a Christianity that tells them – truthfully – that God has no obligation to make it end.

I would not pretend that previous generations have lived and died on a flowery bed of ease, but this is something else. Millennials are the grandchildren of the sixties. Enough said. Compound familial brokenness upon itself down through enough generations and you get…well, what we’re looking at now. God did say it would get worse towards the end. Even if that doesn’t explain all the trials I mentioned, it does make them harder to undergo.

And instead of love, only judgment often comes – “why can’t they just snap out of it?” Things like the recently revealed college admission scandals don’t help. The character problems of some give the entire group a bad name. Some of our pain, to be sure, is on us.

It’s tough to impart spiritual truth to millennials. Did you know that words like “glory” or “salvation” will shut some millennials down almost instantly? They’re priceless words, but the only thing they see is stern, detached buzzwords from a previous generation who don’t get what they’re going through. No, that’s not fair. No, I’m not willing to leave those words behind. But it highlights the difficulty of revealing Jesus to this group. Most want nothing to do with a God of pain.

We’re not dumb. We’re not (all) entitled. We’re not (all) seeking a victim complex.

But the swells do keep coming, and we’re tired of getting rolled.

A speaker I once heard said, “I believe the healing God wants to do in this generation is emotional.” Perhaps hearts, not issues of blood or withered hands, are what Jesus will pursue this millennium.

And perhaps we can be part of it. Consider God’s infinite patience for any person, his ability to convert even Paul to the side of the kingdom. If we simply embrace, listen, forgive, and weep with those who weep. Those are the foundation to the trusses of deep spiritual truth.

A bruised reed He will not break and a smoldering wick He will not extinguish; He will faithfully bring forth justice. (Isaiah 42:3)

Scripture for Our Generation: Ephesians 3

This is one of the most powerful prayers I’ve ever found in Scripture, and one of the most important devotions I’ve ever made a practice.

I pray that you, being rooted and firmly established in love, may be able to comprehend with all the saints what is the length and width, height and depth of God’s love, and to know the Messiah’s love that surpasses knowledge, so you may be filled with all the fullness of God. (Eph. 3:17b-19)