One of the most important things a Christian needs to learn is how to lovingly confront someone who is making life miserable for others. Nobody in their right mind (and right state before God), enjoys being critical. Today, everyone loves to recite the “Jesus didn’t judge” mantra – but the entire Bible is about judging behavior, morals and values so they align with God. There are times when constructive criticism isn’t just important, but necessary — when helping someone see how their behavior is wreaking havoc for people around them is not just important but also imperative. The truth is that Jesus judged — and you should, too, if you are following in His footsteps. The alternative is to allow sin to reign, people to be hurt, and God to be dishonored.
If you are going to follow Jesus you are going to have to pass a lot of judgment in the course of your life — beginning with yourself. Judging people isn’t the issue – the issue is how to judge in God-honoring, Christ-like ways. Judging should always be done with respect for God, for people, and a serious dose of humility. Galatians 6:1 (NIV) says this about judging others:
“Brothers and sisters, if someone is caught in a sin, you who live by the Spirit should restore that person gently. But watch yourselves, or you also may be tempted.”
There are two things you have to learn to practice if you are going to really follow Jesus Christ. You must reach out to people who are sinning — and seek to bring them to their senses so they stop. By nature, this requires passing judgment – gently. In the flesh we pass judgment with a critical, self-righteous spirit – but in the Holy Spirit we can recognize sin in the life of another, help them recognize the same, and repent. This is a lost art these days. The truth of the matter is that we are to be our brother’s keeper. We can be, and will be, when we live by the Spirit.
Can you imagine what might happen in your family if you lived by the Spirit when it comes to conflict resolution? Imagine how your church would be transformed if the people within were characterized as such. America would be transformed if we who bear the name “Christian” began to live by the Spirit of Christ. We would become catalysts for reconciliation, unity and the outpouring of the Spirit across the nation.
Social media has accelerated America’s march away from God – but we Christians could turn that around if we were to bring the Spirit into our Twitter and Facebook accounts. Next time you post something on your Twitter feed or Facebook page, ask God how you can do it with gentleness, so that others are won over, not driven away. Yes, there are times when someone needs the social media equivalent of a bucket of water tossed in their face, to stop them from spreading falsehoods, anger and hatred. We’ve have to do this from time to time on our social media venues when someone waltzes into our living room with mud on their shoes. But we always reserve doing so for only the most extreme circumstances. We’ve found that if we respond kindly to a harsh post, people sometimes reciprocate with kindness. Gentleness can be an antidote for abrasiveness. It can warm up a very cold heart and lead people to repentance.
Jesus judged. If you are going to follow Jesus — really follow Jesus — you have to judge – beginning with your own life. You have to deal with your thoughts and your actions that are out of alignment with God. In the process of God developing your character, you will more easily recognize the character flaws of others. It’s inevitable. But what is also inevitable is the transformation of how you judge. You will begin to do it with gentleness, because that’s how Jesus did it. He mastered the art of loving the sinner while judging the sin. The ultimate example is found in the cross. That’s the place where justice and mercy embraced. If you’re following Jesus, you’ll grow in doing the same.
Jesus judged, and you should too. It’s simply a matter of how it’s done.
WHAT DO YOU THINK? HAVE YOU FORGOTTEN THAT THE ENTIRE BIBLE IS A BOOK THAT JUDGES ATTITUDES AND BEHAVIORS? HOW ARE YOURS COMING INTO ALIGNMENT WITH GOD – AND HOW CAN YOU BE A CATALYST FOR GENTLE CONFRONTATION THAT LEADS PEOPLE TO FALL IN LOVE WITH JESUS CHRIST?