( Hint - we’re literally commanded to.)
I recently attended a small and intimate women’s retreat in Nashville and found myself surprised and a little sad at how I was perceived. There were six women at this event and we all came from different walks of life.
I was the only one who was very vocal about her faith. At this point, it just comes naturally to me to center everything around God and His word. So when I shared about certain experiences from my life and current beliefs, my words always came back to God and what He commands and expects from us.
At the end of the retreat, we did an exercise where we sat in a circle and took turns telling each other what we loved about each person there. Almost every woman expressed how much she loved and respected my strong faith… and how surprised and grateful she was that I was so nonjudgmental.
One woman even said she tried to “scare me off” a few times and she was impressed that it didn’t work!
I don’t share any of this to brag about myself or try to make myself look good. I share it because, fellow Believers, this should be the norm – not the exception!
There’s a reason the world immediately thinks “judgmental” when they hear the word “Christian”. And a lot of that isn’t our fault. A few bad apples, and all that. We don’t have any control over what other people do or have done in the past.
But we DO have control over our own actions and how we represent Christ out in the world. Jesus literally says:
“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.” – Matthew 7:1-2
There it is. Do not judge. Pretty clear, right? We’re supposed to leave the judgment to God and simply show up with love for others, as written in James:
“There is only one Lawgiver and Judge, the one who is able to save and destroy. But you—who are you to judge your neighbor?” – James 4:12
I know this isn’t always easy, especially when we see people living worldly lives instead of godly lives. We may have the best intentions, with a goal of helping them return to God’s commands. And there’s definitely a fine line between confronting others' sin with truth and love… and judging them for that sin .
What I find helpful in that situation is to look to the Holy Spirit for guidance. If He’s convicting you to confront someone about their sin, ask Him to guide you in leaving all judgment at the door and speaking in love. Always love.
We have to watch our thoughts as well. Beyond our words, how often do we find ourselves judging others subconsciously?
Why is that mom letting her child use a tablet at the table in a restaurant?
Why does that couple drink wine every evening?
Why are older folks so obsessed with the news?
Why are younger folks so obsessed with Snapchat?
I don’t know about you, but for me, these kinds of thoughts flow in and out of my brain all day. And if I don’t take every thought captive, as commanded in 2 Corinthians 10:5, I’m judging people left and right!
Maybe I appear judgmental on the outside, but I need to watch my thoughts as well.
I’m very grateful that I showed up as a loving Christian at that retreat and shocked them with my nonjudgmental attitude… but I’m also sad that it was a surprise to find a nonjudgmental Christian. Let’s do better, brothers and sisters in Christ! And leave the judging to God.