Love does not act unbecomingly; it does not seek its own, is not provoked, does not take into account a wrong suffered, does not rejoice in unrighteousness, but rejoices with the truth; bears all things, believes all things, hopes all things, endures all things. Love always looks to righteousness. Love always seeks to find the good and honorable thing about the other. 1 Cor. 13:5-7
We are continuing to look at criticism and judgments of others. One thing’s for sure, neither of these things ended with the recording of Scripture. We make rules all the time that we conclude are biblical because they are loosely based on something we read and have taken out of context. For women, these things are often about dress, hair, or makeup. If I always wear skirts and you don’t I am better than you. If you wear makeup and I don’t then you are not as spiritual as I am. I cut my hair and you don’t so you must be a holier person than I am.
Another area we judge each other is how we educate our children. I can say that I have witnessed those who homeschool being a bit haughty toward those who don’t homeschool. (As a former homeschool parent I can say this with all honesty.) I have seen it and heard it myself. Those who have their children in Christian or private education judge those who put their children in public school. Those who have their kids in public school may judge those who educate their children at home or private school! Please understand that each parent educates their children in the way they think is best. There is no call for judging others on this frontier!
Do you judge the woman who doesn’t return your emails or phone calls? Do you assume they are avoiding you? Do you stop to think they may be ill or been called out of town on emergency? Might they be overwhelmed with responsibilities and just not have the time to call or write?
God wants us to judge charitably.
Instead of being critical in our judgments, God want us to judge charitably. What does this mean? The church has historically used the word “charitable” as a synonym for the word “loving.” This has resulted in the expression, “charitable judgments.” When we are making a charitable judgment we are choosing to believe the best about others until you have the facts to prove something wrong or sinful is going on.
Making a charitable judgment is a loving act. It means you are willing to consider the best about someone rather than the worst. Making a charitable judgment means that you are willing to look at other possibilities or reasons for certain behavior or attitude a person has.
When I was younger my parents used to say “give them the benefit of the doubt.” Choose to postpone judgment if you don’t have facts, and then see if you can get factual information about the situation. As you information gather, be sure and go to the source too. And I might also add- keep the matter between you and those directly involved.
For example, if you are that person who brought an idea to the church leaders that they rejected; rather than assuming that your idea was rejected for personal reasons or because they are just too lazy to consider it, exhibit wisdom and look at the situation from God’s point of view. Search Scripture for passages on the roles and duties of pastoral leadership, how the church body is to respond to the leaders, and then what to do if you have a problem with them. Decide to think the best rather than the worst. See if you can arrange a meeting with the leaders who made the decision and ask questions about their reasons for it.
This is not just being nice; it is an aspect of obedience to God! We are to demonstrate love toward others whenever possible. This is walking worthy of our calling as Christians (Eph. 4:1). Demonstrate humility and gentleness, patience, show tolerance for one another in love, and be diligent to preserve the unity of the Spirit in the bond of peace. Being a peacemaker!
Paul said “Be imitators of me, just as I also am of Christ.” (1 Corinthians 11:1 (NASB)
Paul sought to imitate Christ in his life, and the same is to be said about us. If we are in the process of being transformed into His likeness then our lives ought to show it, right?
Would Jesus judge in your circumstance? Would He assume something was true or would He ask questions (as was His style?) Ironically even when He knew something was true about someone (Judas) how did He treat them? Was He rude, gossipy, and vengeful? No He was not. He said He was here to do the will of my Father, and that means He was not making uncharitable judgments.
Love always thinks the best. This is the essence of charitable judgments.
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