Luke 6: 37

Do not judge.

Simply said, not so simply done. It is easy to be judgmental. Why? Because people are fallible. Look at even some of the great Biblical heroes. Take David, for example. God said of him, “I have found David, the son of Jesse, a man after My heart, who will do all My will.” (Acts 13: 22). What better testimony can one have? God has never said anything like that about me. None the less, we find it pretty easy to judge David. He messed up big time and, for some, that sin has become David’s legacy more than the years and years of trusting God and doing his will. Is he remembered as the man who wrote most of the psalms or as the man who sinned before God and country?

What of Moses? Here is another great heroic figure. He essentially created a new nation out of a group of slaves. He rescued his entire nation, millions of enslaved Jews but, he, too, was fallible. In the end, he failed and, subsequently, didn’t get to go into the Promised Land. He rose to prominence in his own eyes rather than trusting in God’s power and God forbade him entrance to the Promised Land. Wow! Are you kidding me?! This is the guy who parted the Red Sea, who got water from a rock, and more. He, too, had faults, and in the end suffered a major failure.

The point? People are fallible. It is easy to be judgmental because every person you know has faults and weaknesses. The harder thing is to be the instrument of grace. Grace is the opposite of judgment. “For the Law was given through Moses; grace and truth were realized through Jesus Christ,” (John 1: 17). The problem is, like the Jews of the New Testament, we get stuck in the law. Jesus told us if we live by the law, we will die by it. That is not what any of us want. We all want God’s grace and that is a major reason we should live by grace.

We can look at a person and see their flaws or we can see the work of God. We can cover them with a mantle of grace such that what we see is through the veil of Jesus’ work in us and them. I do not say this is an easy thing to do. In fact, I believe it can be quite challenging. The easiest thing in the world is to focus on the many flaws each of us presents. The grace of God is acceptance in full view of our shortcomings. If Moses failed and didn’t get to go into the Promised Land because of it, what is the likelihood that many of us will fall short of God’s best? Thus, we are all easily judged as failures and miscreants. We don’t show the fullness of Christ’s love. So, if you want to judge me, or most others, it’s just not that hard. What Christ is looking for, though, is the for the love he has poured out on us to be used to spread grace, forgiveness and understanding for others. I think his instruction is pretty clear, “Do not judge.”


Romans 15: 7

Wherefore, accept one another, just as Christ also accepted us to the glory of God.

God has not called us to be separatists but rather to love one another in the unity of His great love for us all. Nor did he call us to be judges, neither of the brethren nor of the world. This is a great temptation for us all. We know the way he has called us to righteousness. We have seen in his word behaviors he has told us to stay away from so it is easy for us to say that those things are wrong and judge people who participate in them. Sometimes we go even further. We judge those who are different from us or practice their faith in a different way. We need to remind ourselves that we are called into unity with one another (Ephesians 4: 3) and that Jesus gave us only one commandment (John 13: 34). That is that we love one another as he loved us. His love was sacrificial; putting our needs before his own. When we can get that one commandment down we will not have to worry about judging others. We will receive them in love. We will accept everyone even as Christ accepted us.

Grace and Power

Acts 6: 8

And Stephen, full of grace and power, was performing great wonders and signs among the people.

If you don’t know Stephen’s story you might like to read the rest of this chapter and chapter 7. He was remarkable in his faith.

This eighth verse really struck me today. I am always interested in hearing about the great signs and wonders being performed because I am passionate about us interacting with the world in such a fashion. We are disciples of Jesus every bit as much as Stephen so we should walk in and exhibit the same power and anointing that he did.

The reason this verse arrested me is because of the word grace. Stephen was full of power. We know that because of the many signs and wonders he performed. But what of grace? Why is grace mentioned in conjunction with a declaration about signs and wonders? Could it be that grace is a critical component of miracles? We know that Jesus was full of grace and compassion and we also know that the miraculous was common with him. 

I believe that the miracles are simply the release of God’s power into the earth through the person of the Holy Spirit. Jesus worked hand in hand with the Holy Spirit and as you read about Stephen you will conclude that he did too. So, is it by the grace of God, then that we all are able to not only receive the Spirit of Jesus to live within us but also to release the love and compassion that is in His heart? And you see, if grace is a key element then that takes our cleverness, creativity and holiness out of the picture entirely. It is only by grace that we are saved and by grace we can walk in this awesome power. Because God’s grace is the fuel then we do not have to be anything other than willing. We only need be vessels of grace. However, being vessels of grace means that we cannot be instruments of judgment and condemnation. That stands to reason doesn’t it? Grace is the unmerited favor of God. It is unearned; willingly given by a loving God. Therefore if we wish to flow in God’s power as did Stephen, then we must learn to flow in grace. We cannot be critical and judgmental while letting love flow. A critical, judgmental nature will cut off the flow completely.

Let us abound in this grace that so empowered Stephen. Let love honestly have a place in our hearts and thoughts. And, let us extend the precious love of God first to ourselves. Be not critical of who you are but rather revel in who Christ has made you. You are hidden in Christ and a glorious creature. Now let that glory flow to others.

The Righteous Judge

James 4: 12

There is only one Lawgiver and Judge, the One who is able to save and to destroy; but who are you who judge your neighbor?

 I have an even better question. Who are you to judge yourself? You see, all judgment has been given to Jesus: ALL. We have no more business judging ourselves than we do in judging others. This is one thing that really makes Jesus angry. Read the gospels. When was his ire piqued? It was always over the sanctimonious Pharisees. How dare we judge what Jesus has sanctified.

I am as guilty as anyone. Recently my trip to the beach coincided with fall bike week, bikes as in motorcycles. Some bikers are accountants during the week but we also encountered some folks that you wouldn’t want to meet in a dark alley at night. But that is a judgment isn’t it? This fellow passed me on the street and I could feel myself recoil. He was covered in tattoos, his hair was dirty, his teeth needed some work and of course he was dressed in jeans and a leather vest. Now for all I know he could have been the nicest person at the beach but I felt myself wanting to give him a wide berth. I did catch myself though and tried to see him through Jesus’ eyes and then it occurred to me that Jesus went to the cross for this guy. Who am I? Am I really any cleaner than he?

God gave all judgment to Jesus because he is the savior, the life giver. When Jesus judges it is in order to bring salvation, hope and blessing. We condemn people. When we exercise judgment then we are calling what Jesus calls holy unclean. We begin to look like Pharisees.

For those of us who are tough on ourselves we must recognize that self-condemnation, judgment and persecution are not saintly exercises. We are God’s precious children. How would you feel or react to someone criticizing your children? Do your really want to call one of God’s children unclean? Not me! I’m guessing that is the one way to incur his wrath. Our energy would be better spent thanking God for making us His righteousness in Christ Jesus. We may not demonstrate perfection in our actions but the perfect lives within us. We are temples of the Holy One and that alone makes us worthy and beautiful. I may disappoint myself sometimes but God sees fit to make His abode within me. And honestly, as the Apostle Paul has taught us, it really is in my imperfection, in my weakness that His glory shines. Whatsmore, if I am busy judging and condemning myself it means that my eyes are on me rather than on Him and that is the deepest cut of all.

We have not been given the authority to judge anyone and the reason is because we seed the soil of our spirit with corruption when we exercise judgment. It is poison to our spirits and it is from our spirits that life comes forth. We all want to harvest a crop of abundant life so we must take care of the soil and note what kind of fertilizer and seed we are spreading. If we put toxic material like judgment and unforgiveness in the fertile soil of our regenerated spirit it is going to have a devastating effect on the life giving spring of our spirits. We really must ponder this and allow Jesus to speak into our lives about the toxic environment we are creating in His temple. It doesn’t matter who your judgment is aimed at – it is all forbidden you. So whether it is tattooed motorcycle riders, rock and roll musicians, gays, the “other” church or even yourself, you are killing your crop which is the abundant life of blessing and health when you engage in it. All judgment belongs to Jesus and he has not shared his authority with any of us. I would even say that it is a high offense against Jesus and the position God has given him. Moreover, we take on the mantle of Pharisees when we engage in judgment and the last thing any of us wants is for Jesus to see us as Pharisees. Release all judgment. You will find freedom and peace.

The Truth Shall Set You Free

Matthew 7: 1 – 2

Do not judge lest you be judged. For in the way you judge you will be judged; and by your standard of measure, it will be measured to you.

This is Jesus speaking. One might think that he could have stopped with “Do not judge.” Shouldn’t that end the conversation? And yet we really have a pervasive problem in our society and in our church body with judgment and condemnation. As we address this question of judgment we need first understand that Jesus was speaking to us as believers. Secondly, he was not protecting the people that we judge. This passage, this speech was meant to protect us.

We must understand the grace of God and the work of Jesus in order to conceptualize the meaning in today’s Biblical passage. God has endeavored throughout the time of humanity to draw us into a close relationship with Himself. When we blew it, He sent Jesus to cover our mistakes so that we could be again reconciled to Him in that devoted, personal relationship. So, it is God’s grace and Jesus’ death and resurrection that have placed us back in a place where our sin no longer separates us from God. You see, Jesus’ victory has removed us from judgment. He bore our sin right to the pit of hell so that we would not have that sin taint on us any longer. He removed the judgment that was upon us because of our iniquities. But, when you judge others you take yourself out of that grace and put yourself back under judgment. Okay, I know that is a stupid thing to do but, of course, we don’t mean to condemn ourselves. So why do we do it?

One might think that we judge others out of a sense of arrogance. Well, that may be true to an extent but the greater reason seems to be that we judge others when our soul condemns us. In other words, it seems that our critical assessment of others springs from a failure within ourselves. We see our own inadequacies but they are so daunting and embarrassing that we hide from the truth. As we shy away from the truth about ourselves we manifest that disappointment in ourselves as judgment of others. We become very critical. If you will notice, people who have a lot of unresolved personal issues tend to be critical of everyone around them. They are never satisfied with the sermon on Sunday, the choir was off pitch, the servers took too long, etc. It becomes all about everyone satisfying them because they are so dissatisfied with themselves.

But, shall we also look at ourselves. Let me be the first to say that I have been too judgmental. It seems so clear at times, “That person is a jerk.” Okay, well maybe he is but that judgment is really self-condemnation and we must allow God to free us from it. Once we are whole then we are able to accept others complete with their warts. We must learn to love the unlovely but I think the only way we can do so is to finally, once and for all, learn to love the most unlovely one of all, the chap in the mirror. We can dress him or her up, fix our hair and put on the best image we know how to create but in the end the scalawag always shows up. Hurting people hurt people. We’ve all heard that but did we know that it applies to our perceptions of others and the judgment that emanates from them?

Sure sometimes we can so easily see the flaws in others but seeing those yet unregenerated areas is not the same as judging that person. Do you ever feel or express that criticism. Are you saying to others negative things about someone else? Are you judging them or their actions as wrong? Most importantly, is this your habit? Do you find that you are often critical? What would your spouse and children say?  

Most of us still retain some of the scars and warts from the world. Hopefully we are all growing in the fullness of God’s grace for us and the wholeness that Jesus purchased for us so please do not condemn yourself if you find that you are critical and judgmental. It just means that you have identified an area where you might want to throw the door open to Jesus’ ministrations. Remember that self-condemnation is really where this all begins. Once you truly love yourself with the love of God, then you will be more accepting of others too. You will no longer need to divert attention from your own failures and short-comings. That anger that is deep within you, that self-revulsion which has been so deeply buried and hidden can finally be exposed and expelled. When you embrace that God absolutely loves you just as you are you will be free to love others. Open your heart, soul, spirit, all that is you to the river of living water which is the Lord Jesus himself. We washes clean. He covers all your short-comings with his perfection so that you can stand in the very presence of God Himself with confidence. If you will learn to love yourself and let God love you, if you will learn to accept yourself and know that you are accepted right now by God, then you can cast off that critical, judgmental nature. You will be able to get along with others and others will be able to get along with you. Look, there is freedom in Christ so let’s get free. Let us walk in the liberty and life that Jesus came to give us. 

One last thing, I understand that you are afraid. If you were not then you would never have sublimated those truths about yourself. It is okay. God is loving, kind and gentle. He wants to help you. He is not trying to punish you. It is you who punishes you. You can spend a life time of misery or a few minutes of honest self-assessment. Sure, sometimes the healing is a little bit painful but it is so miniscule in truth and it is so very short in duration. Why be miserable and make those who love you miserable forever when you can spend a little time with God being honest and healing. Don’t let your epitaph be about your untapped potential. Don’t leave people standing beside your grave grieving over what could have been. That is the saddest thing of all. Live this life God has given you wide open full of the joy of the Lord. Let Him touch you. Allow Him to breathe into you the life He ordained for you. Let Him heal you and let Him love you. Accept Him, His love and yourself. In Jesus’ name, I pray.