Judgmental Thoughts February 2018 Another popular and respected regional church leader has fallen into disgrace. Twenty years ago as a single 22 year old youth pastor he made a disastrous decision to become intimate with a 17 year old High School girl. Under the #metoo campaign, the girl, (now woman), contacted her former youth pastor, and wrote her account of what happened on social media. Many of you, right now, are already jumping to conclusions and passing judgment and that is my point! Our willingness, or should I say eagerness, to pass judgment on someone else is a very powerful desire. In my brief description of what took place some of you began making judgments, either about the youth minister, the girl or both. Whatever conclusion you jumped to, I want you to realize that in doing so, you were assuming a role that belongs solely to God. He alone is qualified to pass judgment, not us, for He alone knows our desires, our thoughts and our intentions. To begin with, our desire to judge is a natural one because it assigns blame. As we know from history, Adam and Eve were the first of us to play the blame game. At present, it has become an obsession fueled by the power of social media. And while social media gives everyone a voice, there is not always wisdom behind that voice. That is the purpose of this article; to encourage us to use wisdom, and hopefully prevent us from voicing unjust judgments. Social Media is a platform that empowers people to become the judge, the jury and the executioner in the court of public opinion. When some realize their influence on social media, they believe themselves adequately qualified to pass an unqualified judgment on whatsoever and whomsoever they wish. We will never know the entire truth between these two individuals. They are the only ones who know what took place. They both may or may not have divulged all that happened. Yet, even if they have, we can never be absolutely sure that they did. There will always be a question of doubt. How would anyone know if both parties are being completely honest? Only God knows that and that is what makes Him qualified to judge and not us. So why do we feel it so necessary to pass judgment? Well it is a part of our sin nature and that usually trumps our ability to reason. I have imagined a method by which a person can make an unqualified, unsubstantiated judgment: It starts with a story, an idea or an opinion that we know nothing about. Yet the, ‘not knowing’ is not a hindrance for those determined to pass judgment. For them the ‘not knowing’ allows for a ‘best guess.’ Their ‘best guess’ then becomes an ‘uninformed opinion,’ which allows for some type of ‘conjecture.’ That quickly metastasizes into a ‘viable hypothesis’ which becomes a basis for a ‘speculative truth,’ and that is all that is necessary to validate it as an ‘unqualified fact.’ Based on facts like that, foolish judgments are made. As you can see it is a huge mistake to make these types of judgments, but still people do. We ignore the fact that our judgment is inherently flawed. We are not capable, qualified, nor able, to rightly judge another person, their motives or their hearts. Yet many of us blithely offer judgments and condemnation with little or no thought at all. It is as if social media has released a monstrous (hulk- ish) being in us that we can’t or won’t control. Scripture tells us of the dangers of the tongue; which carries gossip, spreads lies and passes judgment. James wrote, 6 And among all the parts of the body, the tongue is a flame of fire. It is a whole world of wickedness, corrupting your entire body. It can set your whole life on fire, for it is set on fire by hell itself. (James 3:6, NLT). Wow! Now realize that our finger tips accomplish what our tongues used to do but with far more devastating and wide spread results. Jesus said: “Do not judge others, and you will not be judged. 2 For you will be treated as you treat others. The standard you use in judging is the standard by which you will be judged.” (Matt. 7:1-2, NLT). What this means is: If you judge another person’s life, your life will be judged in the same manner by God. If you are callous, caustic, mean, vindictive, hateful, defaming, slanderous, and cruel do not expect that God will be any less aggressive in dealing with you and your sins. Jesus goes on to say in Matt. 7:12 – “Do to others as you would want them to do to you.” APPLICATION: Whatever you put out on the internet can always be retrieved and one day, you may well be judged by your words in the same blistering method of judgment you used. So if you don’t want judged by others – don’t judge them to begin with. However, there is a person that we are expected to judge. We are to judge ourselves. 3 “And why worry about a speck in your friend’s eye when you have a log in your own? 4 How can you think of saying to your friend, ‘Let me help you get rid of that speck in your eye,’ when you can’t see past the log in your own eye? 5 Hypocrite! First get rid of the log in your own eye; then you will see well enough to deal with the speck in your friend’s eye. (Matt. 7:3-5, NLT). Let me sum it up like this, Face your faults; don’t Facebook someone else’s. I can judge myself and my sin far more effectively than I can anyone else’s. It is harder but is more productive to judge myself. Why? I know my motivations and desires and I can evaluate them according to God’s righteousness and then correct them. As followers of Christ we are called to a higher standard than the world. In truth, the world is starving for real life examples of godliness and righteousness. We can’t exemplify God’s goodness if we are being ungodly. Christ has called each of us to be His example both ONLINE and IN LIFE. We are to live our lives for God’s glory and honor; not our own. Let us be ever mindful of what we do so that we will not bring dishonor to ourselves and especially our Lord. Your Pastor, Dave Rowser