CHRISTIAN LIFE & GROWTH
Here Comes the Judge, Part 1
By Rebekah Largent
There she was in the supermarket—larger than life. With her very tight black pants, flashy gold sequined top, and towering heels, she was certainly dressed to impress. Her hair was styled to perfection, and her makeup had been applied with a heavy hand. Everything about her screamed, "Look at me!"
When I caught sight of her, my first reaction was, "Who would go out dressed like that? I certainly hope she doesn't go to work in those clothes." This woman surely had to be a conceited attention-getter. I turned away with a look of distaste—you know the one. The slight head tilt, disdainful eyebrow lift, and subtle rolling of the eyes; sometimes accompanied by a disgusted huff of breath.
But God wasn't going to let me get away with that, and He immediately spoke to my heart.
"Who are you to judge her? Do you know her story? And don't you know that she is beautiful to me? I created her, just like I created you. I love her just as much as I love you."
Oh, my. I was immediately convicted. On the drive home, I couldn't get what I'd done out of my head. I thought about how many times I have put myself above others just like that woman, not because of my own looks, but because I have my lofty Christian standards. Doesn't my "holy righteousness" put me above those who are so obviously not Christians themselves? If they're walking around like they have everything together, why should I have compassion on them?
God reminded me that day that our place as Christians is to love other people: "'Love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your mind and with all your strength' ... 'Love your neighbor as yourself.' There is no commandment greater than these" (Mark 12:30–31). Our "neighbor" doesn't just refer to other Christians or people we run into on a regular basis. Every human being on planet Earth is a neighbor—whether we like them or not. And "loving" them doesn't mean that we merely tolerate their existence. Love requires us to see others as God sees them—even complete strangers living in ways we don't understand. We are to love them because they are His unique, precious creations.
If we base our love on the way a person acts, we're going to have a hard time loving anyone. So often, Christians judge non-Christians by the same biblical standards we have chosen to follow. But how can we expect someone to "act Christian" when they don't claim to be one? They don't have the Holy Spirit to lead and guide them in truth, as believers do (1 John 2:20). How can we hold them to biblical standards when they haven't given their lives over to God's control? Even believers struggle to obey His commands day-to-day.
Some of us do what I did and judge a person solely on their looks. But really, is there a "Christian dress code" or something? Some of us get online and write nasty, damning comments on certain articles or in social media because we can't understand why anyone would fight for homosexuals or abortion when the Bible clearly states those things are wrong. But do our angry arguments lovingly and accurately represent Jesus?
Please don't misunderstand me. I'm not saying that anyone is completely ignorant of wrongdoing (Romans 1:20), or that we should simply accept what we know to be wrong (Romans 12:2). But we are told—required even—to love unconditionally. Those who do not believe are not the enemy—they're the lost. Jesus died on the cross for all sinners (including us!), and it's His desire that all people come to know Him (2 Peter 3:9). So instead of judging, shelling out disdain, or showing hostility, we are to be a shining and gracious example of the love of Christ and live our lives according to His Word. If all a non-Christian sees is a Christian's judgment and hostility, why would they ever want to know our God?
Friends, live in Christ's love. Think the way He thinks (1 Corinthians 2:16). See people the way He sees them. Treat them in such a way that compels them to discover the Truth behind why you are so gracious and kind. Then you will truly be able to love your neighbor, giving judgment back to God—where it belongs in the first place.
See Part 2 here.
Image Credit: ssalonso; "Judge hammer"; Creative Commons
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Published on 2-6-13