Journal Entry ~ 07/26/18
11 Do not speak evil against one another, brothers. The one who speaks against a brother or judges his brother, speaks evil against the law and judges the law. But if you judge the law, you are not a doer of the law but a judge.12 There is only one lawgiver and judge, he who is able to save and to destroy. But who are you to judge your neighbor? - James 4:11-12
Probably one of the most misunderstood, misused, and disobeyed verses in scriptures. I frequently pray for Him to remove judgment from my heart, but I still struggle with the sin. Judgment is so deceptive and sneaky that it hides in our hearts and often we don’t recognize when it rears it’s ugly head. But James is trying to raise our awareness here with his words of caution.
Judgment shows up in many different ways, but it is always a manifestation of pride. The truth is we think we’re better than others, we think our way is the right way, or we we think we are the ones who can decide consequences. Many will excuse their judgment by claiming they didn’t speak the words of judgment out loud, but even when it’s only thoughts rolling around in our heads, it’s judgment. Judgmental words will flow out of a judgmental heart, and a judgmental heart is wicked.
We judge those that are distant from us and those that are close. We have all stood behind someone in line or seen someone across the road and passed judgment on them. We’ve all witnessed interactions between two people out in public and made judgments about their lives. We make assumptions about people based on their color, their age, the way they dress, their race, their religion, the house they live in and the car they drive. When we use those assumptions to pass judgment on another person, to think negatively about their lifestyle or their heart, we are committing sin.
It shows up when we look at the choices others make, and think we could do it better. We think our way is best, our thinking is best, our plans are best, our solutions are best. When others come along with another plan - our co-workers, our siblings, our spouses, our children - we judge their plans or we judge their hearts as wrong. Often, we do it when we don’t have any idea where there heart is at. We gossip about other people, and spout off about their foolishness. We speak evil when we speak against anyone, for any reason. We judge those in this world who don’t know Christ, and are making decisions blind to the truth, and we judge other Christians who haven’t been refined in the same way we have been chastened, assuming God is bringing us all along at the same pace.
Never assume you know what is going on in someone else’s heart. God is working on all our hearts, in different ways at different times. Sometimes that’s apparent in our outward behavior, and sometimes it’s not yet. I know God has revealed truths to me about my behavior that have left my head hung low, and desiring to race back to all the people my actions impacted and change their minds about me. Knowing those words would fall on empty ears, it is my actions that change people’s minds about me. I am thankful for the people who have not kept me locked in the box of my past behavior, but have allowed me to change. I would never want to keep others locked in the box of their past behaviors, instead I want to keep the box open for God to move and change their hearts.
Perhaps the greatest way we judge is when someone has hurt us deeply. We judge their motives and discount their struggles, assuming they should be treating us the way we demand to be treated. Now God does not call us to be a doormat and dismiss disrespectful or hurtful actions toward us, but He does call us to forgive. We are all broken people. We all struggle with temptations toward different sin. No one is perfect, not one. And broken people living in this world next to other broken people means there is going to be pain. There are going to be times when the sin of others impact us deeply. But we are not the lawgiver and judge. We don’t get to decide what their punishment or their consequences are. We are told very clearly in this passage there is only one lawgiver and judge - the One who is able to save and to destroy. God is the only one who gets to hand out consequences for our sinful actions. When we’ve been deeply hurt, we need to remind ourselves that God knows what happens to us, and He has a plan to redeem that pain - both in your life and in the life of the person who hurt you. And if we’re all going to make it through this life with enduring relationships, if we’re hoping to sit on that porch in our rockers when we’re old having those relationships that have withstood the test of time, then we are going to need to learn how to forgive and trust that God will take care of the pain.
The bottom line is we are all broken, sinful people in need of a heaping amount of grace for our brokenness. All of us. We are called to love others without condition or judgment. Anything short of that is sin, and requires us to fall to our knees begging forgiveness. So thankful today for a God who continues to bestow abundant grace on my life, despite my repeated failure at judging others.
Press on ~ you are loved 💗
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