Sunday, December 5, 2010

Judging Others... in the Positive Sense?

When we think about "judging others" we almost always approach the topic from the same direction. We talk about being overly critical of others from a sense of superiority. We talk about dealing with people in the negative direction. I wonder, "Is that all that's to this?"

I've been thinking that this way of judging is not the only way that Christians judge their neighbors... and in my estimation it is probably not even the most harmful way that we judge. Nobody likes a self-righteous critic, but--thinking out of the box for a second--what happens when we judge the heart of another in the opposite direction... not negatively, but positively?

In dealing with other Christians especially, what happens when we judge others in the positive direction by assuming that this person is spiritually equipped enough to the point that we don't need to teach doctrine... or remind them the gospel that saves and redeems sinners? What happens when we look at a "leader" in the church like a pastor, elder, "strong Christian" in the congregation, or even a spiritual mentor, and wrongly just assume that they have it all figured out because of their outward appearances? What happens when we judge them to have the gospel locked down at all times? What happens when we assume that they don't need to hear the Word of God for themselves?

We know the analogies of the wheat and the chaff or the sheep and the goats. When the topic of judging others comes up with these analogies, we naturally assume that we shouldn't treat wheat like chaff or assume that a sheep is a goat... but can't the mistake can go the other way too?

No sinner is "too good" for the Gospel. No person is "so spiritual" that they have no use for the Gospel. No one has "plenty of time" to grow in Christ at some later date. No neighbor is so mature as a Christian that they have no use for your evangelism. No one is strong enough that they are beyond the need for encouragement from you. There is no situation where the Gospel "goes without saying" or where there is a particular truth "that does not need to be verbalized".

The church is full of people that have been written off as being beyond all hardship or struggle. In my experience, these are the ones who languish in a place of greatest need.

No comments: