God and You - Articles to uplift and encourage

by Daniel Baker

There really is a right and a wrong way to do things.

Daniel Baker 01 Aug 2008

Have you ever run into these situations? Someone gives you directions with great authority and confidence; “You can’t miss it!” That is sure to be the one time you do miss it. “You cannot go wrong with this _____ product.” Often those purchases are big mistakes. “This toy, tool, or appliance is indestructible or childproof.” I think children especially relish destroying those items.

Another example, “There is no wrong way to do this!” How often has that been followed by disaster? Experience tells us that the results will vary depending on how you actually do the task. We recently put energy-saving film on many of the windows in our home. Once we found the directions conveniently hidden in the roll of film, I was thrilled not to see that phrase. Instead, they used words and pictures to show how to put it on the windows to get a satisfying result. We followed them, our windows look great, and the house is cooler! There most definitely is a right and a wrong way to install that film.

The same thing is true in our Christian lives. “Judging” is a good example. Jesus said two things about judging that sound confusing and maybe even contradictory. In the Sermon on the Mount, he simply says, “Do not judge” {Matthew 7:1} Paul expands on that when he writes, “Who are you to judge the servant of another? To his own master he stands or falls; and he will stand, for the Lord is able to make him stand. … But you, why do you judge your brother? Or you again, why do you regard your brother with contempt?” {Romans 14:4, 10a} On the other hand, Jesus instructs us, “Do not judge according to appearance, but judge with righteous judgment.” {John 7:24}

When I studied all this, I realized Jesus was telling us there is a right and a wrong way to “judge”. The wrong way is very hurtful and actually drives people away from Christ. The right way strengthens people.

The wrong way often involves a “censorious attitude.” Webster’s defines that as “inclined to find fault; harshly critical”. The theologian John Stott says this about Jesus’ instruction “Do not judge”: “To be censorious is to presume arrogantly to anticipate the day of judgment, to usurp the prerogative of the divine Judge, in fact to try to play God. … The censorious critic is a fault-finder who is negative and destructive towards other people.” Unfortunately, this kind of judging is what people often perceive those who take their faith seriously as doing. Even worse, too often the stereotype has truth to it.

What about judging the right way? The right way is very different because it comes from a completely different mindset. The right judging comes from a desire to restore someone (see Galatians 6:1). This restoration is effective partly because it comes from a heart that is humble - humble because you know that you are a sinner too and “But for the grace of God, there go I.” Also, it is full of love for the other person.

There are some steps you can take to help ensure that you judge the right way. 1) Always keep in mind that God is the Judge not you! 2) Look to your own life. You might just have a problem that needs cleaned up first. This brings in humility. 3) Be absolutely certain that it is an issue worthy of this kind of intervention. Too often people get after others for issues that are cultural, personal pet peeves, ones they find uncomfortable, distasteful, or simply “icky”. 4) Be sensitive to the Holy Spirit, often times God is working with the person on something else in their lives or the issue is already being dealt with and you merely have to be a supportive friend. 5) Make sure your motives are for restoration and full of love. John Stott quotes Chrysotom “Correct him as a loving brother anxious to rescue and to restore.”
6) Before you go, pray for the person.

It is amazing how many times following those steps resolves issues without any confrontations. Following those steps not only helps you judge the right way, they also help the other person to be more receptive to what you have to say.

There is a right way to judge, discern, and help others. Jesus made sure we had the instructions on how to do it. Now our challenge is to follow them.

Christian do your friends see you as judgmental or lovingly discerning? Which would Jesus want you to be and how can you live that way?

The John Stott quotes are from, The Bible Speaks Today, The Message of The Sermon On The Mount, pages 176, 177, and 180

Written by Daniel B. Baker August 2008 revised March 2014

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