Keeper of His Home

by Chelsea McCafferty

The Difference Between Sincere Concern and Judgement

on September 22, 2014

Will Montague via photopin cc

I was at a women’s conference this weekend with some wonderful ladies. One of my friends and I had a great conversation about the difference between sisters showing sincere, genuine concern for another sister and simply passing or holding onto judgement. It was a great chat and she and I came to the conclusion that this is often and issue of the heart, and therefore there are a few points I’d like to share on this topic.

We should have concern for each other. As sisters in the Lord, we certainly should care about what another sister is going through. When we see her struggling, hurting or going through trials, we should be moved to compassion and be compelled to help if possible. What that help looks like will depend on the circumstances, but often the help we give is in the form of advice and counsel. Hopefully we seek to help with exhortation and edification from God’s Word. Sometimes it can be in the form of words of affirmation, and others times there is a call for loving and carefully prayed-over rebuke. Whether or not we should care is not the question. We ALL should care about our sisters. Sometimes we feel we have the answers. Sometimes we’re right that the answer we have is a good one. Regardless, we need to be aware of our own hearts.

Definition of Judging: I want you to understand that there are different definitions and uses for the word “judge.” Here are some of the definitions:to separate, put asunder, to pick out, select, choose, to approve, esteem, to prefer, to be of opinion, deem, think, to be of opinion to pronounce an opinion concerning right and wrong to pronounce judgment, to subject to censure to dispute.” 

This can often lead to confusion in the Word. Sometimes God tells us to judge and sometimes not to judge. We need to look at language and context to make sure we are understanding it correctly. We judge all the time. A judge is someone who is determining what is right. We judge whether or not this or that is correct, right or good. We are called to do this. We are also called to judge whether or not sin is present and not to judge others when we ourselves are guilty of the same sin. So what kind of judging am I talking about? I’m addressing the issue of judging what is not sin but rather passing some sort of sentence or classification of someone based on that person’s choices, preferences, decisions, etc. In other words, it is having a heart that looks down on another believer because our opinions, preferences choices or convictions are different. This kind of judgement is never encouraged in the Word.

1. What’s the difference between judging and offering genuine concern?

It’s an issue of the heart. It’s all about the heart. If we are dealing with an issue that is not necessarily a sin issue, then we need to be very careful about allowing our hearts to cross over into judgement. There’s one easy way to determine whether or not our hearts are in the right place. We ask ourselves, do I think I’m a better Christian because I don’t do what she does? Do I judge her Christianity based on her choices in non-sin issues? Am I looking down on her?

Looking down on a sister is wrong. We are not to do it. We are supposed to be walking in love. I can genuinely feel concern for a sister, and I can not agree with her decisions, without having a heart full of judgement because I will remember my own humanity. I will consider that we all have shortcomings. We all have strengths and weaknesses. We all have areas of struggle. We are also all works in progress. God is molding us day by day. We are in different stages of our walks with the Lord. The point is, we are the same. We are equal in the Father’s family. Even if my sister makes a lot of bad decisions, or what I perceive as bad decisions, she is no less a daughter of the King and fellow heir in the kingdom. She is no less beloved of the Father. She is no less justified.

I will also guard my heart against judgement by remember that God has gifted and called us all differently. What may work for me may not work for another sister. God has made us with different personalities and the ability to minister to different types of people. He never intended for us all to look or sound the same. He made us unique and colorful. He loves his daughters….ALL of them! We need to look on our sisters in the Lord as He Himself does. We need to appreciate them for what they bring to the body. When we see ourselves as different, better or above other believers, we are allowing our hearts to harden and become cold. God is not pleased.

2. Is this a sin issue?

Not every struggle is a sin issue. We need to remember that sometimes the issue isn’t sin at all. The problem is we often have in the church is one of people trying to force their personal convictions on others. As sisters in the Lord, we can be very strong when it comes to our opinions. Perhaps the Lord has put a conviction on our heart that may be less than black and white in scripture. We should always obey what the Lord has put on our heart to do, but that doesn’t mean we pressure others into following us. If it’s clear in the Word, that’s a different story. Some issues that may arise where this is a concern would be over healthy eating habits, whether or not to drink alcohol, what to watch on television or whether to watch it at all, homeschooling versus public education, clothing choices, head coverings, etc. We need to be very careful that we are not judging or looking down on a sister who does not share our convictions, but rather to walk in love and respect.

Let’s consider for a minute the issue of food. There are plenty of opinions on what people should or should not be eating. There’s no doubt that much of what we eat today is unhealthy and full of chemicals and such that was no where on that Garden of Eden diet that Adam and Eve enjoyed so long ago. Many are becoming more educated on the issue of food, what’s in the food, what foods provide to our bodies, etc. and in doing so are becoming self-made experts on healthy eating choices. I think that’s really cool. I have several friends who are really into health, and I love being able to go to them with questions. They are so helpful in providing good information on everything from vitamins and herbs to healing the body with natural resources. I see it as a type of ministry, to help others.

Here’s the catch, however. With all of this emphasis on eating healthy, it can open the door to some serious judging. It’s important that we always remember that it is not what we eat that makes us “better” or “worse” Christians. The Bible does not put a strong emphasis on food, except for the several times that Paul exhorts the church NOT to judge on the basis of what someone eats. Do not look down on them. Do not be deceived into thinking a person who eats pizza everyday and weighs 400 pounds is any less of a Christian than the one who runs ten miles a day and eats a vegan diet.

Now, should you be concerned about a friend who weighs 400 pounds and eats pizza or fast food for every meal? Sure. Of course. It’s very unhealthy. So how do we offer this concern without judging? First of all, we make sure our friendship is based on something deeper than mere niceties. We are sisters in the Lord. We invest in one another. We don’t just smile at them from across the sanctuary every week and then walk up to them one day and exhort them to change their eating habits immediately. We build a relationship. We listen to them. We try to understand where they are coming from and how they are struggling. We show COMPASSION. We are not flippant. We do not dismiss their feelings, nor their struggles. We treat them with honor, respect and affection. We see them as equals in the Lord and we certainly recognize that we, too, have areas of struggle. Once our heart is in order, we can help our friend. We can minister to her and bless her.

3. Do I judge based on my own opinions?

Another way in which concern can cross over to judgement is when a sister does not follow or take our advice. We are so confident in our opinions. When a sister is sharing her trial, we may have an idea of what she could do to resolve the issue. There’s nothing wrong with offering advice, when we feel led by the Spirit to do it and feel it is a good word and good timing. If, however, our sister doesn’t take the advice, we need to not judge or look down on her. We need to, instead, continue to pray for her, love her and be okay with it. Just let go. We might be wrong. We might not understand the full scope. God may be leading in another direction for reasons we can see. Offer advice, but don’t judge if it’s not received the way you want.

Do not speak evil against one another, brothers.The one who speaks against a brother or judges his brother, speaks evil against the law and judges the law. But if you judge the law, you are not a doer of the law but a judge. There is only one lawgiver and judge, he who is able to save and to destroy. But who are you to judge your neighbor? Come now, you who say, “Today or tomorrow we will go into such and such a town and spend a year there and trade and make a profit”—yet you do not know what tomorrow will bring. What is your life? For you are a mist that appears for a little time and then vanishes. Instead you ought to say, “If the Lord wills, we will live and do this or that.”  As it is, you boast in your arrogance. All such boasting is evil. So whoever knows the right thing to do and fails to do it, for him it is sin.” James 4:11-17

4. Am I the right person to help?

It’s always good to ask the Lord if you are the right person to help your friend. You know, sometimes there are reasons God may use someone else to minister to that sisters. Perhaps He knows you will struggle with having a judging heart. Perhaps He knows you won’t be able to understand where the sister is coming from or going through. Perhaps He has a plan to use someone else that will be more effective. If you feel God telling you not to intercede, obey. There is a reason. If you are not called to minister to this sister, then make sure not to carry judgement away with you. Simply put it behind you and move on in love, unity and peace. God has called us to be one, just like Jesus prayed.

5. Walk in love.

It is so easy to judge. As I write this blog I’m reminded and convicted of times I have entertained a judgemental heart. I have allowed genuine concern to move into judging, placing myself somehow above my sisters in the Lord because I do this or that. I think we need to be very careful. This is the heart that tears us apart rather than brings us together in unity. We need to love one another. We do need to help one another, but our hearts have to be in the right place. I’m no better a Christian than you are and you are no better than me. Whether or not we see everything eye to eye is irrelevant. We are saved by grace through faith in Jesus, not of our own works. We are equal members in the family of God. We are holy because HE is holy. We are righteous because He is righteous. Let us walk forward in love and support of one another with sincerity of heart.

Finally, all of you, have unity of mind, sympathy, brotherly love, a tender heart, and a humble mind.” 1 Peter 3:8

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