Scripture is abundantly clear, with multiple other passages supporting the command Jesus gave. I was specifically hit recently by what Paul said to the church in Rome, right after the discourse on the lostness and depravity of humanity in Romans 1. Starting in chapter 2:1; “Therefore you have no excuse, O man, every one of you who judges. For in passing judgment on another you condemn yourself, because you, the judge, practice the very same things. We know that the judgment of God rightly falls on those who practice such things. Do you suppose, O man—you who judge those who practice such things and yet do them yourself—that you will escape the judgment of God?” And he said that to the church!
I would like to pose 3 questions that can help us turn around our natural attitudes towards quick judgment and cold attitudes towards other people, which will give us better sight in which to see the awesome ways God is working in the world. I would like to pose those questions by sharing how God spoke to me during my recent trip to Jordan. First, though, let me give you some background information on the country.
- Jordan is 97% Muslim believers.
- Christianity, however is legal and respected (it is, though, illegal to convert).
- Arab culture puts a huge priority on hospitality. It would bring shame on a family not to welcome you in and treat you well.
- Jordan is in a unique situation in that they really have no natural resources and must rely on tourism for their main financial impact.
- Because of that, Jordan has become the centrally located open door in the region, because they allow most everyone in.
- Jordan has a big history of hospitality, being the first to take in Palestinians in the 60s to Syrians today. Though they try to give immigrants/refugees opportunities to thrive, with the job market the way it is, it is nearly impossible for outsiders to get a work permit, if it means taking a job from a true Jordanian.
I will honestly admit to being a bit nervous about travelling to the Middle East. There were definitely prayers on my behalf (and from me) and counsel on being careful – with some people not wanting me to go! It is a conflicted area, and obviously we hear a lot of scary news from that region of the world. Basically, my guard was up. And it had to be torn down before I would be able to see what God is doing in Jordan.
- What is the antidote to being judgmental?
I believe the answer to that is education. It is so easy for us to judge others, especially when we only know part of the story. Almost always, once the rest of the story is heard, our judgments change. Consider a few examples where I learned what Muslims were actually like as people; and that Muslim does NOT equal Isis.
- What is our motivation to practice a better way?
Jesus says that in the same way we judge, we will be judged. And he taught us to pray in Matthew 6 to ask God to forgive us in the same way we forgive others. Those can be dangerous words to pray if you tend to be judgmental. Practicing non-judgmentalism can lead to opportunities for God to be glorified.
- How do we practice discernment without being judgmental?
There are still going to be things that you have to make decisions about. Making judgments in life is not something a person can avoid. The denomination has to determine, on a 5 year basis, whether or not a mission field is worth the cost of investment. Every site is reconsidered every 5 years to see if God is bearing fruit in that location. We have to make decisions – but can where does judgmentalism end and discernment start?
When you find yourself being judgmental, here are 3 things you can do to overcome the temptation.
- Seek education. If you find yourself judging a particular group of people or culture (or anything), seek to learn more about it. Look for opportunities to talk with people and learn from them. That can give you a better understand and the ability to see real faces instead of ideologies.
- Practice forgiveness. We all tend to hold grudges and turn them onto other peoples or groups. Even if it is just between you and God, practice forgiveness over those who impacted you negatively.
- The difference between judgment and discernment is wisdom. Seek wisdom over anything else. I encourage you to incorporate Proverbs into your daily Bible reading plan. There are 31 chapters and usually 31 days in each month. Read the chapter that corresponds with that day.