With the measure you use, it will be measured back to you.
Judgement is a funny thing. We’re all against it, and yet we all do it – maybe even daily. Little pause is given to the person’s context or story. When I hear someone say, “I don’t judge anyone”, I marvel at their level of self-deception and self-righteousness (which may mean I’m judging them, but I digress). We all have a person or group of people that we “other”, people we don’t understand, don’t care to really “get”, and rather enjoy comparing our lives with theirs.
Not all judgement is bad. When we use our God-given faculties to discern good from evil, wise from foolish, the way of love from the way of selfishness, we are inviting God’s illumination into our lives in order grow into our true selves as image bearers of God. The Bible would encourage us in this.
But the kind of judgement that Jesus tells his followers is NOT for them, is the kind that renders verdicts, separates humanity into tribes of “us” & “them”, and creates hierarchies for who is in (God’s family) and who is out (and will be eternally separated from Him). The trinitarian God goes to great lengths to show us, specifically in the book of Acts, that those that God’s people traditionally have thought were “out”, are actually declared “chosen”. The Jews were used to thinking that the Gentile people had been rejected by God.
So God, in His wisdom, decided to pour out his Spirit on them just as he had the Jewish Christians. We read in Acts 10:44-45 that,
While Peter was still speaking these words, the Holy Spirit came on all who heard the message. The circumcised believers who had come with Peter were astonished that the gift of the Holy Spirit had been poured out even on Gentiles.
This led a formerly hypocritical Peter to proclaim, “Surely no one can stand in the way of their being baptized with water. They have received the Holy Spirit just as we have.” I can’t think of anything more similar in today’s situation. Imagine how scandalous it would be for the church to see God using the LGBT community to heal the sick, love the marginalized, and communicate a deep understanding of the gospel. I think the church would be shocked to see God using the very people labeled “rejected by God” by the many generations before us.
So this type of judgement, where we assume we know who’s making it into heaven, who definitely isn’t, and who might possibly slip by but only by a more extravagant grace, is what Christ declares is out of bounds for his followers. I would’ve thought that the closer I walk with Jesus, the more I would see a distinction between myself and those that don’t know Christ. I know we’ve been taught that greater sanctification looks like greater separateness, but that hasn’t always been my experience. Don’t misunderstand reader, I believe that walking with Jesus should yield to an increase of the fruit of the Spirit in our lives, creating a marked difference in the lives of believers and unbelievers. But a much more consistent truth for me has been that the closer I walk with Jesus, the more he seems to destroy the idea that I have anything righteous to offer him and that I have much more in common with the person I have “othered”.
When Christ’s light in my life reveals my shared humanity, I’m forced to make a decision. I can either demonize the “other” & continue living in the deception that “they” are worse than “us’”, or I can let humility have its perfect work in my heart and receive the mercy of God. Receiving more mercy results in me being more thankful and more readily merciful. So will you surrender your perceived right & ability to judge (condemn, assess, & declare guilty), & allow God to use you to communicate and be a conduit for the great truth that mercy has actually triumphed over judgment?
This blog is one in a series of 30+ tips for relational effectiveness with LGBT people. Find the condensed list HERE. These relational tips are from a handout acquired from “Lead Them Home”, a Boston based ministry that equips the church on LGBT issues. These blogs have been expounded upon with permission.
These tips, along with numerous other insights, are found in an excellent resource called “Guiding Families” availableHERE.