Not My Job
October 9, 2023
This past week I was reminded of this sad but very real truth: Much damage is done in the body of Christ by one person judging another on half-truths, incomplete knowledge, personal preferences, bias, and on and on. Then they magnify the sin of it by sharing their opinions as fact, believing everyone needs to know. Then other people pile on who don’t even know the limited amount the original speaker knew, but they simply want to appear right and righteous, standing for the truth. The truth is, they are generally NOT right and certainly not righteous in doing so.
Whenever I’m tempted to criticize my neighbor (this is judging), I find this Bible verse very helpful to check my human ego—the source of our judgmental spirits: “Therefore you have no excuse, whoever you are, when you judge others; for in passing judgment on another you condemn yourself, because you, the judge, are doing the very same things.” Romans 2:1 NRSV
The mind that is negative finds negativity in others. The mind that is full of love finds reasons to love another. Which mind are you choosing to wear today?
The problem with judging others isn’t that we are incapable of knowing the truth. While we may not know everything that is true, God has revealed to us at least some of it, and there are basic things that we can assert. The problem with judgment is that it is often done without true discernment, and it unnecessarily creates divisions in the human family. When we are quick to judge, we build resentment and ruin relationships. What if we sincerely believe they are wrong? Our job is NOT to convict others of sin. That job is taken. Jesus said that is the Holy Spirit’s responsibility (John 16:8).
The fact of the matter is that each and every one of us brings to every situation a lifetime of unique experiences that have formed our conclusions about the world. Undoubtedly, some of these conclusions will be misguided and distorted. But there is a difference between condemning our neighbor outright for a wrong conclusion and entering into a discussion to understand what may have led them there and in what ways they may actually see the truth in a light different from our own. To believe that we or anyone else is ever COMPLETELY right or wrong, that we are without sin or blemish, is arrogant and preposterous. I truly sense that if we are ever going to grasp what is the Truth, it will be a discovery we make together, open to understanding even the most questionable people around us.
Jesus warns us (recorded in Matthew 12:36-37), “But I tell you that everyone will have to give account on the day of judgment for every idle and empty word they have spoken. For by your words you will be acquitted, and by your words you will be condemned.”
It is interesting that after Webster defines "idle" as "lacking worth or basis," the word "rumor" is listed as an example of this definition. Indeed, spreading gossip and rumor is an example of idle words. An idle word is one that is false, that accuses anyone falsely. Some definitions say that it includes all light talk, all thoughts that provoke cruel laughter or shameful, unkind words.
Proverbs 12:18-21 teaches us, “Careless words stab like a sword, but wise words bring healing. Truth will continue forever, but lies are only for a moment. Those who plan evil are full of lies, but those who plan peace are happy. No harm comes to a good person, but an evil person's life is full of trouble.”
Why does God’s Word hit the power of our tongue and warn us about words as one of its most frequent topics? Because words have power. And unfortunately, people who call themselves Christians have always been prone to use the power of their words as casually and carelessly as their companions who do not claim Christ.
Politics and religion bring out the worst in us, particularly in our words, both written and spoken. In our sharply divided world, people who call themselves Christians are among the worst offenders. Jesus-followers, we’d better beware—Jesus says He’s not having it.