Tuesday, 13 November 2012

Don't Judge Me!

Words mean something. There I said it. They just do. They mean a lot. And it is interesting how the same word can mean different things to different people? No, I'm not talking about synonyms silly. I mean the exact same word. I haven't figured out why this is. My uneducated guess that it is our postmodern, relativistic society wherein we can't even define a word because it means one thing to one person and another thing to another person.

I looked in the dictionary used dictionary.com and I see this when I punch in the letters that spell the word judgement:

1. an act or instance of judging.
2. the ability to judge, make a decision, or form an opinion objectively, authoritatively, and wisely, especially in matters affecting action; good sense; discretion: a man of sound judgement.

3. the demonstration or exercise of such ability or capacity: The major was decorated for the judgement he showed under fire.

4. the forming of an opinion, estimate, notion, or conclusion, as from circumstances presented to the mind: Our judgement as to the cause of his failure must rest on the evidence.
5. the opinion formed: He regretted his hasty judgement.
From what I see here it can be then, a positive thing to be judgemental. In many circumstances it is quite necessary. It means, for the Christian, that you are being discerning while "judging" through the lens of Scripture. Being judgemental has gotten a bad wrap as of late and probably for good reason. However, as I stated before words are important are they not? They're so totally important that Jesus himself is called the Word.

 So then, lets take a look together for a few minutes.  (If you left your thinking cap in bed, I totally understand, just skip here to my last FridayFavs, and come back later. ;0) And the rest of us, we will move on....
I know a dear family that has fostered many kids. These kids come from very desperate situations. The state had good reasons to take these children out of their homes. The judge in their cases has to make a judgement call and put the children in foster care. The judge and the state are being what we would call judgemental...in the positive since. If the state or the judge in these case would not have made any sort of moral judgement, these children's lives would be forever damaged more so than they already are. The parents of these families have to prove, through different assessments, that they are able to take care of the children and again the judge must decide, to discern, if and when they are ready to do so.

Recently I have been able to spend time with some adorable children that my friends now have in their home. And in my mind I have thought things like, "How in the world could these parents let this happen? What kind of people do these kinds of things?" Yes, I was being judgemental...in the negative since (don't judge me! ;0). Shortly after I had this very thought,
"But for the Lord, Kari Jo....this could very well be you making those choices....loosing your children."
Again out comes that Pharisee.

And isn't that the crux of the matter? Pride. It always is. The moment I believe that some how I am good in and of myself...that somehow I am better then that becomes the force behind my judgement. And those kinds of judgements are always hurtful.

However, if my judgements are made in light of Scripture in the matter of finding out what is true, then my judgements will always stem from love. I can be judgemental in a positive since and even say things that might be hard to hear because of love.  I can say things that are true and noble and right....things that might fall on deaf or angry ears. But just because someone disagrees with my judgements does not mean that it is hateful does it? Most of the time it is the truth that is hard to hear isn't it? And isn't a judgement to say that we shouldn't judge at all? Hmmmmmm.....

I hope you are asking yourself, "Is this true?" "Where do I go to find out truth?" I go here:

Matthew 7 Jesus says, "Do not judge, or you too will be judged. For in the same way you judge others, you will be judged, and with the measure you use, it will be measured to you. Why do you look at the speck of sawdust in your brother’s eye and pay no attention to the plank in your own eye?  How can you say to your brother, Let me take the speck out of your eye,’ when all the time there is a plank in your own eye? You hypocrite, first take the plank out of your own eye, and then you will see clearly to remove the speck from your brother’s eye."

This must mean that we are to never judge right? Well, yes and no. First remember the context of Scripture is key. I have to ask myself when (what period of time is this set in?) and where (what is the cultural context?) and to whom (who exactly were these people?) was Jesus speaking. This is towards the end of what is Jesus' well known, Sermon on the Mount. Jesus was speaking to many different Jews at this point as crowds and crowds were following him at the beginning of his ministry, wanting to be near. Some of these Jews were well known scribes, Pharisees and teachers of the law.  They were the rule followers. They even had rules in addition to the 600ish (ok 613 to be exact) laws that were given by Moses.

Saul, whom we know as Paul (yeah, that guy who wrote much of the New Testament...that guy), was once a Pharisee before he met his Lord and said of himself in Philippians,..."as to the Law, blameless." Paul was basically saying, "According to all of the Law and Prophets and all those extra ones too, I was found blameless." I'm just going to assume that Paul was not the only Pharisee or Scribe that would call himself blameless according to the law. That might actually sound like a confident self assessment, but it is also very true. These men thought that by following those laws they were made righteous and so they followed every. single. one. 

Guess what? They weren't. And guess what else? Neither are we. Jesus was talking to them about judging here (and to me too.) For the very same reason it was so, very easy to pass judgement on those parents. Pride. Pride. Pride. Their hearts (and mine many times) are full of it.  Oh, those Pharisees and I, we would be great friends, I think. I so often, like they did, find my righteousness not in Christ, but in following rules or or checking things off my list or having obedient children or being a good wife or in my marriage or having a clean house or making things from scratch or what others think of me or making "good" choices or in my own ability (yes, that would be the plank in my own eye.) See my list...that could go on but won't....isn't even super spiritual. Really, it's rather stupid (for lack of a better word)!

So then, is it possible to judge with out being prideful or arrogant or malicious? Yes, indeed it is!  Does it really matter that the world will go on with the relative drum beat redefining words or not defining them at all? No, not really. It's hurtful in many cases for sure, but I believe to be a discerning believer, it is necessary to make moral judgements according to the Word. What is even more necessary though is being clothed in humility, a heart seeking out truth and indwelling love that only comes from Christ and the Holy Spirit. Then and only then can our judgements be full of grace and truth. And that my friends, is the difference. It always is isn't it? He always is isn't He?

Christ comes in. He doesn't just change our hearts, he gives us a new, fleshy one which makes us able to discern truth. What a great and sober responsibility! Thank you God for grace!  

726. one boy, waking unusually early, excited about saving his allowence for a circut kit and falling asleep again with satisfaction
727. this achy thing in my heart that loves my children fiercly, not wanting them to grow
728. remembering to always have my hands open, that they really are not mine
729. quiet not-so early mornings
730. a husband who gets out into the cold to close the garage door for me...it's the small things
731. these children who can't seem to sleep with out each other
732. a praying mother in law and broken fevers
733. one girl excited about playing in her first Upward league
734. snow...again...on those bendy trees
735. a little boy who is pretty much potty trained! PTL!!!
736. one bigger boy SO EXCITED about cub scouts
737. that handsome man, wearing his blues, always taking such good care of us.
738. the sober responsibility of making grace filled judgements


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