“Did you hear that Jill is still on antidepressants? Wow! I wonder what’s really wrong with her? There must be some big issue that she’s struggling with or…she’s hiding something big.”
“Oh! Did you hear that Rob and Betty are taking marriage counseling again? Why don’t they get their act together?”
“And did you hear about that big church split….?”
How many times are you and I guilty of having preconceived ideas about an incident that we know little about? We join in with the other accusers and begin throwing stones at the people involved in the situation. Obviously, we would never throw actual stones, but we don’t realize the damage we cause to others with our razor tongues.
When we see a brother or sister struggling with emotional, psychological, or physical issues, why are we quick to label it as a spiritual problem? Yet, when we begin struggling with something, we always pin it to a physical, emotional, or psychological condition or blame our actions on the wrongs of others. Shouldn’t it be just the opposite? Shouldn’t we give others the benefit of the doubt, while being quick to ask ourselves if what we are struggling with has a spiritual root?
Let’s look at what the Bible says about this issue.
“And why beholdest thou the mote that is in thy brother’s eye, but considerest not the beam that is in thine own eye?
Or how wilt thou say to thy brother, Let me pull out the mote out of thine eye; and, behold, a beam is in thine own eye?
Thou hypocrite, first cast out the beam out of thine own eye; and then shalt thou see clearly to cast out the mote out of thy brother’s eye.” (Matt. 7:3-5)
Short disclaimer: Now, I realize, that in today’s culture, many Christians take this passage to the extreme. They take it out of context with the rest of the Bible, and use it as their basis to accept “tolerance,” thus allowing them to stay in their comfort zone and not stand up for truth. That’s not what I’m talking about here!
What about the verse in Phil. 4:8? Have you ever thought about how you are violating this verse when you are speaking negatively about someone or something?
“Finally, brethren, whatsoever things are TRUE, whatsoever things are HONEST, whatsoever things are JUST, whatsoever things are PURE, whatsoever things are LOVELY, whatsoever things are of GOOD REPORT; if there be any VIRTUE, and if there be any PRAISE, think on these things.”
Hmm…This doesn’t leave much room for negative “stone-throwing,” now does it?
When it comes to another person’s “issues,” we need to be careful that we don’t cast judgement or use a spiritual “gavel” to condemn them. However, this doesn’t mean that we don’t speak God’s truth to them and help point them to freedom in Christ. So, what is the difference between judging and pointing out the truth? I believe the big difference is found in our attitudes. Are we saying what we are saying out of love and compassion for the individual or to belittle them or make ourselves look better? When talking with a hurting individual, we should have this mindset: “This is probably who I would be if I had experienced exactly what they did.”
We have met many people who have been deeply wounded by critical and judgmental words coming from those who should have been helping them through the tough “storm” they were in. It’s not always a sign of spiritual weakness when someone is struggling through the tough issues of life and the “Why, God?” questions. Sometimes, God’s grace simply and beautifully carries us through the tough times, but then there are other times when we need help in dealing with the effects of the “storms” because God never created us to live in a broken sin-filled world.
When the “storm” isn’t your own…please don’t be too quick to spiritualize the situation. When it’s someone else who is going through a hard time, be there to walk the difficult journey with them. Lend a helping hand, have a listening ear, give those words of encouragement, but most of all, don’t cast harsh judgement on them. Instead, show them sincere love and compassion. Share hope with those who feel hopeless.
We may NOT be able to prevent someone from a “storm,” but we CAN prevent them from facing it ALONE.
Are you following Christ’s example in how you relate with those who are struggling, or are you being a “stone-thrower”?
~Cindy (For The Mullett Family)
*Image courtesy of David Castillo Dominici / FreeDigitalPhotos.net
**Image courtesy of Michelle Meiklejohn / FreeDigitalPhotos.net