“Refuse to be a critic full of bias towards others, and judgment will not be passed on you. For you’ll be judged by the same standard that you’ve used to judge others. The measurement you use on them will be used on you” (Matt. 7:1-2, tPt).
Confession time. I’m going to be honest with you. My heart has been known, on occasion, to come up with some pretty unkind sentiments towards certain individuals. You know those moments when something about a person’s general behavior or attributes triggers a negative response in your emotions? Can you relate? I imagine that you can. We came up with a name for this to package it as something acceptable. We call these our “pet peeves.”
In my case, maybe it’s a person whom I perceive to be acting pretentiously. Or it could be a Facebook photo where someone who should know better is showing too much skin (in my not-so-humble opinion). Or it’s an insecure soul who is clearly throwing his or herself out there in unhealthy ways, clamoring for attention. When I see these things, instead of compassion, I sometimes feel pricked at, bothered.
Thankfully, this is not the overriding modus operandi of my inner life. Holy Spirit has been diligently at work inside of me for a long time now. I am profoundly grateful to Him for all the tremendous change He has effected within my core over the years. He has made me immeasurably more gracious in my deep heart attitudes, both towards myself and towards others, than I used to be.
And yet, once in a while, those moments still pop up. I don’t like the ugly feeling that invades my emotions when they do. Since I don’t want it hanging around in my inner space, I quickly ask for Holy Spirit’s help.
That’s when His gentle voice simply says to my spirit, “Receive My compassion.” As He imparts His dunamis* to me, I am empowered to perceive the person through new lenses. My heart is softened. Suddenly, I see them as a struggling individual who needs grace. Holy Spirit replaces my annoyance with genuine love and patience.
Our verse for today says “Refuse to be a critic.” Or, in the NIV, “Do not judge.” Notice that it doesn’t say, “Do not judge your fellow Christians, but go ahead and judge those offensive revilers who haven’t yet had the sense to become believers.” Nope. Just flat out, plain and simple, “Do not judge.” Anyone. At any time. Period.
What comes into our hearts when we start to think about someone on the opposite side of the political spectrum? Someone living in blatant sin? Or even someone committing as trivial a crime as wearing a really tasteless outfit that day (in our lofty estimation)? Or perhaps a getup tight enough to unbecomingly reveal a “less than perfect” figure?
Jesus doesn’t want any lingering negative sentiment about anyone to remain in the secret places of our soul. Here is His heart on the matter: “God did not send his Son into the world to condemn it, but to save it” (John 3:17, TLB). He didn’t put us here to condemn it either, but to be, in the midst of it, His compassionate ambassadors, His agents of redemption.
If you are like me and need divine intervention in order to step up into such an extraordinary mandate, Holy Spirit is eager to provide it. If we ask Him to gently nudge us on the occasions that judgement towards our fellow humans creeps into our hearts, He will. And once He nudges, here is a life-changing prayer to pray in response:
Truth be told, we need Holy Spirit to cleanse us like this continually. Just as our kidneys unceasingly filter toxins out of our blood stream, we need Him to continuously purify the flow of our thoughts and emotions with His precious blood. He will do this for us. As soon as we pray, He will answer. He will begin washing the unkindness out of our soul and replacing it with His beautiful love.
He’s ready right now to start. Why wait another minute? Let’s ask Him!
“Create in me a clean heart, O God…” (v. 10a).
In this world full of quick judgmentalism towards others, how do we set the example? Will keeping our own hearts clean make a significant difference?
*Greek for “power,” in verses like Eph. 3:20