James 4:11-12 (Lent Readings)
KJV Below (Link to NIV)
11 Speak not evil one of another, brethren. He that speaketh evil of his brother, and judgeth his brother, speaketh evil of the law, and judgeth the law: but if thou judge the law, thou art not a doer of the law, but a judge.
12 There is one lawgiver, who is able to save and to destroy: who art thou that judgest another?
There is a difference between exhortation and judgment. One is motivated out of love, while the other comes from a felt sense of superiority (or a desire to assuage a lack of that feeling). It’s the difference between talking to a family member about their direction and “going off” on a stranger. I’m the middle of five kids. I love my brothers and sisters. Sometimes, though, they do things I don’t agree with or at least wouldn’t do myself. Now, I don’t step in and tell them how wrong they are when they do things like this generally (yeah sometimes I butt in when I shouldn’t, but I strive not to). Why? Because it’s not really a core issue. We can have differences and still love each other as family. We can even have discussions. In the end, though, it’s their life, not mine. I want them to succeed and think I know how best to do that (I am human, after all), but I recognize that I may not be correct, and so I don’t tell them they are wrong (even if I think they are). The exception would be if one of them did something really wrong. Then, I’d have to speak up. However, even then, my approach would be more measured by love than anything else. I approach it differently. I’m not in their face. When we act that way we are pretending to have some authority over the other person, but only God has that kind of authority. He is the Father of our faith family.
How quick are you to judge someone else? When we judge, is it even something that we should judge about? Is it a core issue or something on the peripheral? Do you approach disagreements from a point of love as you would in a family, or from a point of supposed authority?