Have you ever been uncharitably judged? I can’t think of a person who hasn’t been the recipient of that sort of thing. It is so tempting in those moments to focus on the person who judged you, and all that is wrong with them, isn’t it? However, I am asking you to think for a moment about what their judgment revealed in you.
What was your response toward the person who was judging you? Were you angry, put out, outraged? Did you have a desire to justify yourself or make excuses to this person? Were you hurt? Did you begin to recite in your head a whole bunch of negative things about the person who was judging you? Maybe it was not confined to your thoughts and you spoke out loud…
What you did with this judgment reveals a lot about your heart. Your heart is described in biblical terms as the immaterial part of you that is the place of thoughts, beliefs, and desires. It also is the place that your mind, will, and emotions reside. Your heart is where your soul resides. The Bible has more to say about the heart than I have space for here! A couple of very notable verses that make my point perfectly are found in Proverbs 27:19 “As in water face reflects face, So the heart of man reflects man”, and in Jeremiah 17:9 “The heart is more deceitful than all else and is desperately sick; Who can understand it?”
In Matthew 15:18 Jesus tells us that what comes out of our mouths reveals the heart. “For out of the heart come evil thoughts, murders, adulteries, fornications, thefts, false witness, slanders.” When you were responding (even if it was only in your head!) to that criticism or judgment by thinking all those negative things about the one confronting you, you were revealing your heart. The Bible refers to these things as evil thoughts and slanders.
Few people understand that these kinds of thoughts are part of them, and are serious. Most of us like to whisk them away to a far corner of our psyche and pretend they don’t really exist or only come out on rare occasions; that we are too good to have these thoughts on a continuum. We play games with ourselves with nice sounding excuses about how we could ever think such thoughts. We chalk them up to “being tired” “being stressed” “having a bad day” and tell ourselves it is ok, everyone does this from time to time. When you and I lie to ourselves by saying,”I am a good person even though I am having bad thoughts” we are passing by an opportunity for heart change.
Heart change is another aspect of progressive sanctification whereby I become more like Jesus Christ in my inner man. Without heart change, there is no lasting change of any kid. All change that is meaningful comes from within and reaches my thought processes by renewing my mind (Romans 12:2) and my beliefs which are then affected by my new way of thinking. My desires are also affected because I now am thinking about God rather than myself and what would please and glorify Him and I desire to make that a reality in my life. This is why simple behavior modification is not enough!
When my heart begins to be impacted and affected by the Word of God my responses to judgment will be different. Rather than return fire I become willing to examine my heart and see with Biblical eyes if what is being said to me about me is possible or true. I want to change, I want to eliminate these sins from my life and I then begin to view the person who brings me these judgments as an instrument of God rather than an unwelcome intruder in my life.
It is ultimately God who has allowed this to come to pass and who among us can argue with God?