Perhaps it’s happened to you.
Maybe on several occasions. You were hurt by a judgmental attitude; their words and condemning spirit cutting to the core. Perhaps it hurt deeply because it came from someone you considered spiritually mature or a close friend. Someone you thought would understand your heart and motives. But instead of caring and trying to understand you, they poured out accusation.
We’ve all experienced it at some point. I’ve experienced it. From someone who pointedly indicated they were sharing out of love. Yet, it totally went against what God clearly outlines in His word.
One of the most detrimental attitudes in the church is the attitude of judgment.
Hardly anything inflicts more wounds than misunderstanding a friend’s motive. Jumping to conclusions without inquiring about their intentions. We as believers are notorious for speaking truth into negative behaviors, yet, we overlook the pain buried beneath these behaviors.
Each of us desire to be fully understood. For others to look below our own detrimental deeds and care for our motives. Before judgments are passed, we’d like nothing more than someone trying to see the full picture.
But we all know the church has wounded many of its own. A great deal of these wounds run deep, causing massive pain. The most considerable pain being caused from Christian friends or family.
Christians have become better at casting stones than casting nets. Instead of drawing into the fold, we’re flinging others away. Those who should be the most compassionate can sometimes become the most condemning and condescending, often because of jealousy or struggles of their own.
I cringe when I think of all the times and ways Matthew 18 has been taken out of context within many church circles. What is spiritualized as being said “in love” fits better under the category of “casting stones” and judgment.
Let’s reflect on Matthew 18:15-17 “If your brother sins against you, go and tell him his fault, between you and him alone. If he listens to you, you have gained your brother. But if he does not listen, take one or two others along with you, that every charge may be established by the evidence of two or three witnesses. If he refuses to listen to them, tell it to the church. And if he refuses to listen even to the church, let him be to you as a Gentile and a tax collector.”
So before you confront someone, ask yourself, was this “wrong” committed against you? Is this person actually wrong, or are you only trying to find faults? Check your motive. Why are you really going to this person? Unfortunately, I believe the majority of times there are less spiritual motives than brotherly love and concern. Especially when the sin wasn’t committed against yourself or if it’s regarding petty non-sin issues, which is often the situation. Is it any wonder non-believers talk about Christians being condemning and judgmental? The heart of Jesus can never be wrapped in criticism.
When the woman caught in adultery was brought to Jesus, He asked her accusers which one of them was without sin. Which one was qualified to judge? Obviously, the only One who was qualified to condemn was loving her. Jesus has never been a finger-pointer. He always went to the core of where the hurt was rooted, instead of simply addressing the symptoms.
Jesus was always quick in silencing the truth spoken by the Scribes and Pharisees. Why? Because their motives and words were laced with condemnation. Does this mean we should never speak truth into others’ lives? Absolutely not. But speaking truth should come as the result of your unconditional love and where your brother feels safe in coming to you.
Where have we gone wrong in understanding God’s word? Matthew 18 doesn’t imply that it is our responsibility or obligation to point out what we view as negative behavior in our brother or sister’s life. This scripture is addressing when someone deliberately sins against us. Why do we so often take it out of context and feel empowered to criticize our brother or sister? (Oh, but we think we are doing it “in love,” don’t we?)
The path of true redemption and restoration is when we take time to see what’s hidden below any negative surface issues. The true test of the spirit behind a confrontation is whether the individual feels judged or understood. We’ve met many individuals in all walks of life. It is uncommon for an individual to become defensive and reactive when you possess a compassionate and non judgmental attitude. If your motive is truly love, you won’t often find yourself pointing out negative behavior. Instead you will be caring for the heart of someone who’s hurting.
Maybe you’ve been hurt by fellow believers, as I have been at times.
How do you restore a relationship with someone who has deeply hurt you in the spirit of “brotherly love?” Especially when they never admit they had a wrong attitude or motive. Forgiveness is essential and needed to set yourself free. However, relationships are built on actions and trust…complete restoration involves both parties and may not be possible without their repentance.
Stone-flinging and fault-finding is a sign of a religious spirit. I can visualize the Scribes and Pharisees scouting the dusty terrain for the biggest boulder they could possibly heave at the adulterous woman. When Jesus directed His question into their hearts, I believe they began reaching for smaller stones. Yet, as the Soul Searcher lovingly continued looking deeply into their eyes, they slowly opened their hands and silently dropped every rock and pebble they’d maliciously clutched.
When our own hands open up, dropping any stones we may have grasped, we can then more fully extend them in non-judgmental compassion to others. Let’s open our hands, and drop those rocks.
For this is the way of Jesus. This is the way of the cross.
Cindy (for the Mullett family)