28 October 2013

Encountering Jesus ~ Instead judge correctly (part 2)

Jesus answered, “My teaching is not my own. It comes from the one who sent me. Anyone who chooses to do the will of God will find out whether my teaching comes from God or whether I speak on my own. Whoever speaks on their own does so to gain personal glory, but he who seeks the glory of the one who sent him is a man of truth; there is nothing false about him. Has not Moses given you the law? Yet not one of you keeps the law. Why are you trying to kill me?” 
“You are demon-possessed,” the crowd answered. “Who is trying to kill you?”
Jesus said to them, “I did one miracle, and you are all amazed. Yet, because Moses gave you circumcision (though actually it did not come from Moses, but from the patriarchs), you circumcise a boy on the Sabbath. Now if a boy can be circumcised on the Sabbath so that the law of Moses may not be broken, why are you angry with me for healing a man’s whole body on the Sabbath?...
Stop judging by mere appearances, but instead judge correctly.

At that point some of the people of Jerusalem began to ask, “Isn’t this the man they are trying to kill? Here he is, speaking publicly, and they are not saying a word to him. Have the authorities really concluded that he is the Messiah? But we know where this man is from; when the Messiah comes, no one will know where he is from.” 
Then Jesus, still teaching in the temple courts, cried out, “Yes, you know me, and you know where I am from. I am not here on my own authority, but he who sent me is true. You do not know him, but I know him because I am from him and he sent me.” 
At this they tried to seize him, but no one laid a hand on him, because his hour had not yet come. Still, many in the crowd believed in him. They said, “When the Messiah comes, will he perform more signs than this man?” 
Jesus exhorts His listeners to stop judging based on visual perception or how things seemed to them, but rather based on conformity to who God is and to what God has declared right, pure and just.

Easy to type - not so easy to swallow or accept - and without abundant measures of His grace and mercy, impossible to do. And it flies totally contrary to lovely sounding words (like the ones below) which represent the thought of this present age... 

...but do not correlate to what the Word of God teaches.

“It’s not what you look at that matters, it’s what you see.” 
~Henry David Thoreau

While traveling last summer, we stopped at the National Battlefield of Little Bighorn. It was a sobering experience. It is a bit mind-numbing to look at all the tombstones and realize that that spot is where someone's life ended. Someone's son... brother... husband... father... friend... died. It was one of the few places we visited (outside of Notre Dame) where I didn't have to remind our children to be quiet. Not even once. Not even the littlest or most talkative ones.

We stopped because our family had been learning about the Cheyenne, Arapaho and Lakota Native American tribes... we'd retraced, as our paths would allow, the story of General Custer and Chief Black Kettle after learning a bit from the old TV series Dr. Quinn Medicine Woman. One of the key points at every place we stopped... people judged other people according to their norms and assumptions leading to misunderstanding and misjudgments...

...and tragedy, death, sorrow and disaster.

Those coming from a European cultural perspective just didn't get those coming from the Native American perspective. Motivations, priorities, communication styles, and so much more were just diametrically different. Misunderstandings of power as well as avarice and stubbornness also exasperated the already enormous problems. Fear and a history of abuse and atrocities on both sides were huge factors as well. Add into that the arrogance that comes along with assuming your way is the best way so just go ahead and totally discount or forget any other way...

...It was almost like there was just too much water under the bridge.

At Washita, the army was the clear military victor. Custer thought he had another opportunity for a similar victory. He judged wrongly. He paid for his arrogance with his life and the lives of so many others.

What else does God's Word say about judging?

My first search has over 1100 Biblical references to the word "judge." And that excludes other forms of the word: judging, judges, judged, judgement... YIKES! This might not be just a quick side trip, eh? Maybe I'll try the topical bible... or the visualized bible my Nana and Pop pop gave me when I first left for college so many years ago...

But even a cursory glance shows that judging occurs in many different circumstances:
  • judging others (Jesus followers or those who aren't)
  • judging self
  • judging organizations/churches
  • judging actions - i.e. sinful or not
  • judging motivations
  • judging God for His actions, His decisions

Matthew 7.1:  “Judge not, that you be not judged.”

That verse gets thrown around a lot - and the obvious implication is that all judging in any circumstance is absolutely wrong. End of discussion. That interpretation is wrong and is an attempt to escape accountability and often, of having to accept hard consequences.

It is easy (Jesus follower or not) to take those words as an absolute and complete rejection of any and all appraisal or assessment of a moral nature. And, in fact, Jesus commands in John that we are to judge... correctly. As Kevin DeYoung says, "Judgmentalism is not the same as making ethical and doctrinal demands or believing others to be wrong...." 

In the above verses, Jesus says to stop judging by appearances... by simply what we see or how things appear in that initial surface look. To judge correctly, we've got to dig deeper.

Thus, that person walking down the street dressed in a way that I'd never dress or even might find offensive - I'm sinning if I judge.

That kid three rows in front of me in church who won't sit still and is distracting everyone in the 5 rows behind - I'm sinning if I judge his parents.

That person who's radio station is tuned to one I'd never listen to - I'm sinning if I judge his/her music standards.

My child who hasn't cleaned his/her room when I check after they've left for school - I'm sinning if I judge.

And I could keep going on... but the point is pretty clear. Snap judgments that evaluate a person's Christianity, morality, obedience, righteousness based on a glance and an appearance? The only judging that needs to be going on is the self examination of my own heart and the confession of that sin for what it is: disobedience to God's Word.

Even if that judgment is never uttered aloud... if it happened in my heart, I need to clear that between the Lord and me. If it has affected how I treated that other person and confession is in his/her best interest, I need to humbly confess and seek forgiveness.

And I think I've stepped on my own toes enough for one Monday afternoon...

Do you have an accountability system set up to keep a check on the sinful judging that so often emanates from these fallen human hearts?

Does it help? How does it work for you, if you do?

this week's gratitude list
(#'s 4287 - 4311)

safety for loved ones in a car accident

great volleyball tournament

fun new recipes using butternut squash

coffee with one of my regular coffee buddies and someone I hope to have coffee 
often in the future

6th grade slumber parties

kissable sour cream monsters

cold fingers and toes as I work on the computer

Niger family

listening to kids skype and laugh and giggle with their redcoat friends... loving hearing those names as the chillin's chat amongst themselves

prank pizza delivery calls to another friend... once again listening to the laughs, giggles and one sided conversation with all 7 of the currently in Michigan Wrightlings

finally, a date-ish on the calendar that my girlies will get to see Mr Stan, Miss Mary and their boys (we hope those boys will be there)!

that a Honey Nut Cheerio incident wasn't much worse

listening to Tori sing as she works beside me on the kid-puter

hair cut for Nadia

hanging out with Gampy

little girls messing up the words to songs and making me smile

seeing the littles make new friends at our partnering churches

big boys and spilt milk... smiling!

the latest episode of The Mentalist... getting intense!

Jonathan has discovered college football so I've got a watching buddy if I just had time to sit and watch a game

birthday parties and hayrides that make big girls laugh and smile

pumpkin walks

stories about charging elephants and charging hippos

my sweet friend finally home from the hospital and healing

Google earth to help show people where we live

Ten most recent posts in this series: 


  1. Big boys and spilt milk - LOL - I've been there:) Wonderful post - parenting taught me me about how not to judge than so much else. Did you add the pencil art to the photos? I love that! Thank you so much for a wonderful life lesson today!

    1. thanks! didn't add anything to the photos - took pics of what was there, but sometimes my kids do change a few of the settings - hence the different colorings on a couple of the pics.

      appreciate your visit and your encouraging words!


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