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Relational Evangelism

Loving People Instead of Judging Them

By May 15, 2024May 17th, 2024No Comments
loving-instead-of-judging

 

Judging comes so naturally to us. 

Love is the biblical choice.

 

Judging comes so naturally to us 

Have you noticed how easy it is for us to judge others?  It’s like we are pre-programmed to do this.  It is our default mode.  We critique others by comparing them to our standard (us) and often then despise them for scoring disappointingly low on our scorecard.  We do this to other people with respect to their style of dress, their driving, their body markings and body piercings, their career choices and their parenting. In fact, there is no area of life in which we are immune to this default setting toward other people.  We love to play the comparison game with other humans (especially those we view as “inferior”)! 

 

And yet Jesus condemned judging others.  Matthew 7:1 “Judge not, that you be not judged.” And it is not only Jesus that calls this out in believers. Scripture is full of condemnation for this superior self-righteous attitude manifesting as judgmentalism.  This does not mean that a Christian should be undiscerning.  We have clear commands as individuals and as a corporate church to discern false prophets, to identify and deal with sin, and to mark those that cause divisions. But we are often guilty of going far beyond discernment to embracing our own judgmentalism. What a presumptuous sin of pride on our part! It implies that we are more righteous than others.  In Luke 18:9, Jesus strongly condemned those who “trusted in themselves that they were righteous, and treated others with contempt.” 

 

When we adopt this attitude, we forget who God is (the true Judge – Matthew 7:1), and we forget who we are (sinners saved by grace – Ephesians 2:8).  We quickly identify and critique the “sliver in our brother’s eye” and fail to see the “beam in our own eye” (Matthew 7:3-4). And yet, we continue to struggle with this default attitude. 

 

Love is the biblical choice 

But Jesus commanded another attitude to be the hallmark of His people – love.  Love is not only to be the great difference-maker in the life of the church (the love of God – Romans 5:8), but love is to be the great characteristic of the church (our love for others – John 13:35). In fact, Jesus said this had always been the case for God’s people, not just the church.  How did He summarize the Law?  Love God and love others.  Get those two correct, and every other part of the law will naturally fall in line.   

 

Now the biblical concept of “agape” love, God’s kind of love, and the love He expects of His children, is not a feeling, but a choice to sacrifice.  It’s the kind of love God demonstrated in John 3:16, “For God so loved the world, that he gave…”  In God’s economy, love equals sacrificial giving.  Thus, love is a choice.  Love is a commitment.  Love can be commanded.  Do you love people?  Are you eager to sacrifice your resources, your time, your comfort, for their eternal good? Biblical love is in direct opposition to judgmentalism.   

 

One of the police officers I serve as chaplain also serves with the National Guard.  A few years ago, he was deployed for an 11-month assignment on the southern US border.  Before he left, his wife organized a party in his backyard, and I was invited.  I will never forget walking through the gate and into his backyard and seeing every other person there drinking alcohol, and lots of it.  In my world as pastor, I don’t see a lot of alcohol consumption.  And this unnerved me, as it does many Christians.  Do I stay? Do I sneak out? Do I correct? Do I judge? Staying would require a sacrifice of my time and my comfort. By God’s grace, I decided to stay and love this family.  About 15 minutes later, I was standing in the lawn holding my Dasani water bottle, chatting with a few acquaintances, all of whom were on their second or third beer.  Gary, my police friend, jumped up on the back porch, thanked everyone for coming, and emotionally introduced someone who loved his family, his “pastor.”  And he gratefully invited this “pastor” to pray for the meal that all of his soon-to-be drunk friends were about to enjoy.  I literally started looking around for his “pastor,” wondering if he had recently joined a church.  But he was referring to me!  After a brief moment of shock, I prayed a prayer of gospel truth, sharing Jesus with several people I had hoped for an opportunity to reach, but never had.   

Love.  It looks past the things we critique in others.  It doesn’t look down.  It doesn’t despise.  It sacrifices.  Love does not require you to sin.  You are not asked to violate your conscience.  You are not asked to excuse evil.  You are commanded to lovingly sacrifice yourself that others might see your Savior.  

We could summarize Jesus’ famous teaching on this in Matthew 7.  Don’t judge.  Do love.  There is nothing in the middle.  “There is no try” (as Yoda famously said).  There is only do. Great Commission living is an act of “doing” love.  Jesus always went to the sick, the hurting, the outcast, and the obviously sinful.  Motivated by love, we are called to do the same!  

Brad Stille

Exchange Trainer

Brad Stille is the Lead Pastor at First Baptist Church of Wixom, Michigan and serves as an Exchange Trainer. Contact Brad about leading an Exchange Training Event or to discuss this article at [email protected] 

 

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