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Stories, thoughts and reflections on the Bible from the WSFC Staff.

Five Questions To Ask Yourself When You Feel Tempted To Wield Your Judgements

Hello Friends,

Think about the last time someone challenged your decisions or beliefs for a minute.

 

What happened in your heart?  Did your blood pressure raise a little?  Did you find your thinking get a little less clear?

Nevermind.  I am sure that is just me.  I am sure you were cool as a cucumber.

 

But how did you respond?  Not just with your words, but with your tone, or lack of words, or your body language.

Most of our tendencies are to run, fight or freeze.

 

Society today celebrates the fight – responses that build walls instead of bridges.  Responses that attack someone’s character first and then ask clarifying questions… oh who are we kidding, clarifying questions are rare these days.

 

But what if there was a better way?  A way to engage with compassion and without compromise.  A way to disagree without disrespecting.

 

When Jesus came to earth, He entered a religious culture that chose to feel superior instead of having true Kingdom influence.  It was a culture that traded the voice that God could use to enact change for the applause of their echo chambers.

 

And those who came to apprentice under Jesus had be taught a different way.  So He told His disciples “Do not judge, or you too will be judged…” (Matthew 7:1)

 

What Jesus did not mean was “Do not develop strong convictions, solid theology or a Biblical world view.”  That is something vitally important.  What he did mean was “do not weaponize your opinions to tear people down and build yourself up.”

 

All of us have this temptation.  That temptation to win the argument at the expense of relationships.  That temptation to narrow our social circles down to the ones we agree with.

 

But if we follow that path, we will further distance ourselves from the very people God is pursuing.

 

So what can we do?

 

Let me help with a starting point.  Five questions to ask yourself when you feel tempted to wield your judgements in a way that distances yourself from those who disagree with you.

 

1. Is this a clear and core tenant of Biblical theology, or just my preference? 

If you’re not sure, research.  If you recognize that it may be a preference, don’t hold others to it as if it’s a Biblical mandate.

 

2. Have I taken time to listen their perspective? 

To listen to someone’s perspective does not devalue your own or validate theirs.  And listening does not mean you are agreeing.  You’re just giving them the courtesy you are asking them to give to you.

 

Here is what James says: “My dear brothers and sisters, take note of this: Everyone should be quick to listen, slow to speak and slow to become angry, 20 because human anger does not produce the righteousness that God desires.” James 1:19-20

 

3. Is what I am saying about someone a reflection of what God would say? 

Often when we disagree on hot-button topics we ignore everything that is favorable in someone and fixate only on that which is unfavorable. And it comes out in how we talk about them.

 

We are called to love even when we disagree.

And we’re called to speak blessings and pray for those we may mentally classify as “our enemy”.

 

4. Can I still serve and serve with those I disagree with? 

We are called to love and serve all of humanity – in all of its brokenness, flaw.

 

While the Pharisees were interested in writing anyone off who did not agree with them, Jesus was busy teaming up tax collectors with zealots and letting them humble themselves to serve together.

 

The Pharisees wrote off the disciples for not washing their hands, while Jesus washed the feet of the one He knew would betray him.

 

It did not mean Jesus did not hold Judas accountable for wrong, but it did not stop him from displaying compassion.

 

5. Could someone accuse me of the same thing?

Jesus says that if you can’t take the log out of your own eye, don’t worry about the spec in someone else’s.  (Matthew 7:5)

 

Think about that family member who is talked about before they get to the gathering.  Or that boss that is criticized in the break room.  Or that person we pass by walking downtown who we create entire narratives about.  Or the stranger on TV we love to hate.

 

On any level, could those same things you say about them be said about you?  Accusations about decision marking.  Attitudes that you accuse others of.

 

We often position ourselves as a lawyer for our own actions and the judge for someone else.  We can sell others on our motivation but find it hard to believe the motivation of others. And when we do this, we deteriorate God’s ability to move us with compassion for them.

 

God wants to use us to reach those who do not know Christ.  But humility, not superiority, must be the path we use in that pursuit.

 

So this week, before you send that text, or share that story, or respond out of anger (no matter how righteous you believe that anger is), pause and ask yourself these questions.  And let the Holy Spirit temper the way you approach the situation.

 

He’ll help you be wise as serpents and gentle as doves.  (Matthew 10:16)

Cristopher Buck
Executive Pastor