LIVING GRACE: Judge and ye shall be judged

May 11—"Do not judge, or you too will be judged. 2 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

In my experience this is among the most misused and abused verses in the Bible. Someone who is flagrantly sinning boldly attacks the man or woman of God that is lovingly correcting them. It often feels like the church is constantly on the defensive. Part of that has to do with the hatred that is often spewed in the name of judgment. Paul will later direct us to speak the truth in love. This is an incredibly important part of our confrontation with a world of sinful people.

Judge not according to the appearance, but judge righteous judgment. -John 7:24

Many years ago, I was working with a life change program for women and children. The program used a similar self-evaluation process that we use at the Gospel Rescue Mission.

The process is designed to help staff, volunteers, and guests to lovingly confront each other by encouraging us to look at our choices. Most of the time we learn that we are selfish, moody and thoughtless most of the time.

The process is helpful in getting to the heart of actions. One day the other guests were all in an emotional spin over this new gal who had gone out for a walk the evening before wearing a slip. (For the guys this is like underwear over underwear that is usually worn under a dress.)

The ladies were all certain that she was prostituting and wanted her confronted. The counselor asked if anybody had talked to her.

They all sheepishly said, "No." In fact, most had not even seen the behavior but had heard about it second or third hand.

Later that morning the counselor found the young lady and talked to her about the slip incident. It turns out the young lady had never seen a slip before and was highly embarrassed when it turned out that she actually went out in her underwear.

It was a lack of knowledge, not a sinful heart, that led to the behavior. The point is rather than instantly jumping to judgement it might be beneficial to take time to talk one to another.

The beauty is that when this is done correctly with a deep love a life can be changed. First the person who maybe comes to see their behavior as sinful and how it damages other people might repent.

If they do that you have restored your brother or sister. They are then able to have a restored relationship with God and with others. That is loving.

The other possibility is that you will discover your own judgmental heart and can repent. You might discover that there is more to life than your miniscule theology. When that happens and you repent you then become eligible to loving confront and restore others.

By the way, Jesus was not saying that His followers should not judge. Rather, He said that they should not judge with hypocrisy or with self-righteousness.

We are called to discern and judge things so we can make wise choices. As Christians, we are to judge rightly by using the Word of God as our standard for judgment.

Rich Schaus in executive director of Gospel Rescue Mission.