Judge Not - Yet I have
Being who I am, always becoming who I will be. A process for the masses - the same for every human and yet as wildly unique as the very soul you’ve been entrusted with.
God’s been speaking to me recently. To be honest, He’s probably been saying it for a while but knew I needed some of my soul-kinks untangled before I could actually hear this Truth. This isn’t a pretty, well-worked out and smoothed over part of my heart yet but it is something worth saying because if I had to guess, I’m just one of many Christ-following folks with the same blindspot - the same log, if you will. And maybe through the flickering courage of admitting, we can all surrender a bit more to God’s process of becoming who He created us to be and therefore, love each other more fully.
This harsh edge of my heart is pointy and sharp. It’s no wonder I often concealed it with half-listening ears and some half-thought through opinions I assumed would be of benefit. Unfortunately, putting a well-decorated welcome sign over a barbed wire gate doesn’t make it any more inviting. But God, in His goodness, recently showed me a reflection of my heart and I’m starting to see this jagged exterior only actually accomplishes the very thing it has since Jesus spoke passionately against it two thousand years ago. It keeps people at arms length, sterile and controlled, rather than throwing open the door and welcoming them in, lavishing loving through seeking understanding and bestowing grace. It’s put my heart in a place of self-righteous superiority and distortion. It’s done exactly what assuming does…except the U is the innocent recipient…and that just leaves me.
I admit I’ve automatically, blindly and quickly sized up people who think differently than me.
I admit I’ve assumed I understand you better than you could ever explain yourself and therefore, dismissed the need to actually listen and seek understanding.
I admit I’ve thought I already knew the precise condition of your heart and the exact contents of all that stuff that you carry around from your past.
I admit I’ve often determined you must be exactly the way I perceived you to be at first glance.
I admit I’ve considered my self-made categories of right and wrong to be all encompassing and nonnegotiable…oh, and I also admit my heart has often believed you must adhere to them as well.
I admit I’ve smiled and nodded for social acceptance sake but really thrown many of your words into a mental box before even considering what you’re trying to communicate.
I admit I’ve course-corrected, offered opinions, given advice and personal antidotes before I stopped to hear where God is taking you because I assume it must be the same place as me.
I admit I’ve acted like a Pharisee - a separatist - out of sheer fear of being wrong or leading you astray and my discomfort with differences.
I admit these things and I am deeply sorry.
If I am a vessel, meant to be transparent window for the love of Jesus to shine through on anyone in my path, my window has had big, dark smudges of judgment smeared across them. Recently, I’ve witnessed how the smears have casted shadows on the people God’s asked me to love with the love with which He first loved me. Like a tumor-riddled MRI, the muck of my heart created dark splotches blocking the light that ought to shine through. These shadows were blotches of deficiency - deficient grace, deficient mercy. Deficient joy, understanding and love - not because He is deficient but because my judgement is. Judgement is a dark cloud, blocking the warmth of the Son. Judgement thrives off of knowing a fraction, understanding a fraction, caring a fraction and loving a fraction.
But God doesn’t give His heart fraction-by-fraction. He doesn’t give His heart in pieces based on our performance or mistakes. As the perfect, rightful and just Judge, He gives of Himself fully and freely and by His fullness, we receive grace upon grace. By trusting in the poured out blood of Jesus, our guilt and shortcomings, our missteps and mistakes, and even our judgement has been utterly and completely replaced and now we openly receive love and grace! And since grace and love is what we've received, grace and love is what we have to give.
Judgement is a nasty weed sprouted from pride. The essence of sin that says, “I want to be my own god. I want to decide who’s right and by what standards. I want others to act the way I deem best and control based on my knowledge.” By allowing pride to foster my judgment, I put up the front that I have it all together…as if I have plenty of time to cast shadows of judgment because most of my junk is basically good to go. Please, sweet Jesus, forgive me! That LITERALLY couldn’t be FURTHER from the truth. The mere fact that I cast judgement places me in line with the religious folks of Jesus’ day that He, quite frankly, didn’t care for one bit. In fact He exhorted them, "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.” My own life wouldn't stand up to the judgement I've passed out like candy to others. If that’s not a reason to repent and run back to God, I don’t what is!
Refraining from judgement doesn't mean letting the people you love (which should be everyone if we're theologically honest) fall for the Devil’s schemes or to idly stand by as someone welcomes separation from God. But here is the key He’s highlighting for me: we ought to love people back to Jesus, delivering truth wrapped in grace, rather than casting darkness and shadows of deficient love and judgment.
In his recent book, Everybody, Always, Bob Goff says “We’re supposed to just love the people in front of us. We’re the ones who tell them who they are. We don’t need to spend as much time as we do telling people what we think about what they are doing. Loving people doesn’t mean we need to control their conduct. There’s a big difference between the two. Loving people means caring without an agenda. As soon as we have an agenda, it’s not love anymore. IT’s acting like you care to get someone to do what you want or what you think God wants them to do. Do less of that and people will see a lot less of you and more of Jesus.”
God’s given me the grace to take a good look at my heart’s spiritual MRI. I've seen the darkness, and honestly, it’s been hard. I've cried a lot. I don’t feel shame but I absolutely feel the heaviness, the reality, the consequences and the grief from being far from Jesus’ heart. This is pruning - this is discipline from a loving Father. This is good because He is good and I am grateful.
In the midst of it all, God’s sat with me in a real way, lovingly reminding me who I am - a woman who is becoming more and more of His image bearer He created me to be. A vessel, an offering, an alabaster jar broken and poured out. One that sits with people without ulterior motives, listens to hear, seeks to understand, replaces assumptions with His love and let’s Jesus’ joy, mercy and grace shine brightly through my life onto the lives of the rest of His children.
Thanks be to God.