Christianity 201

May 9, 2017

3 Wrong Ways to Judge

Filed under: Christianity - Devotions — paulthinkingoutloud @ 5:32 pm
Tags: , , ,

Do not judge according to appearance, but judge with righteous judgment. – John 7:24 NASB

Above all, clothe yourselves with love, which binds us all together in perfect harmony.  – Col 3:14 NLT

[Love] bears up under everything;
believes the best in all;
there is no limit to her hope,
and never will she fall. I Cor 13:7 ISV italics added

Over the past eight years, this is our eleventh time returning to the writing of Paul Tautges at the website Counseling One Another. To learn more about his new book, Pray About Everything, click this link. To read today’s post at source and look around the rest of the site, click the title below. This article is also part of a series, other sections are linked at the end.

3 Ways We Judge Wrongly

Jesus instructed His disciples to judge righteous judgment (John 7:24), but He also said, “Do not judge, or you too will be judged” (Matt. 7:1). Is this a contradiction? No. We are called to use biblical truth and wisdom to discern rightly, but we are foolish when we make judgments based upon appearance or only one side of the story. We are called to maintain a balance of grace and truth, but avoid a judgmental attitude. This bad attitude is, as Matt Mitchell defines it, “a heart disposition meant to be condemnatory and censorious.

So, where do we go wrong? When and how does judging become sinful? Mitchell explains three ways.

  1. Rush to Judgment – To form a conclusion about a person based upon hearsay, without going to him to hear the other side, is utterly foolish and destructive. It is folly and shame to answer before listening, to rush to judgment about another person without loving them enough to take the initiative to start a conversation (Proverbs 18:13). Instead we should believe the best about the other person, rather than assume the worst.
  2. Prideful Judgment – The deeper problem behind and beneath judgmentalism is pride. Pride is the elevation of oneself not only above other people, but above God’s law (James 4:11). But there “is only one Lawgiver and Judge,” and it’s not us. When we rush to judgment, we play God; “we act as if we are omniscient when we are not.”
  3. Unloving Judgment – The opposite of being judgmental is the virtue known as charitable judgment. “Charity” is the old word for love (1 Cor. 13:4-8), which compels us to believe the best about another person. Therefore, Mitchell counsels us well with these words: “If you and I are loving people with this kind of charity, we won’t sinfully judge or gossip about people. We won’t delight in the evil that we hear has befallen someone else. We won’t believe the worst about others. We will always hope for something better. Love is tenacious. Love does not pretend that all is well and sweep things under the carpet, but it does hang onto hope for others and believe the best.”

Instead of sinfully judging others, and then tearing them apart through gossip, the gospel obligates us to put on love, which bonds everything together perfectly in harmony (Col. 3:14).

As we continue to work through the book, Resisting Gossip, please consider reading and growing along with us. Previous posts include:

Here’s a song from 40 years ago. The lyrics are really relevant to today’s post. “Lord I want to cut him down to size / Help me see that brother through your eyes…”

September 7, 2015

Hurting Others With Our Words

Today we turn to pastor and author Chip Ingram.  Last week at Thinking Out Loud we looked at relationships in the church which can disintegrate slowly over a period of time, and those which fade quickly due to a variety circumstantial issues. But often a relationship blows up in a split second over something someone says…

Speak No EvilWhy We Hurt Others with Our Words

Has someone ever said something judgmental and negative behind your back that questioned your motive, integrity or character? If so, how did it make you feel when you found out about it? Probably pretty rotten, right? Nothing is more painful than when someone says something about you that is blatantly untrue.

In fact, few things have the power to ruin a relationship like critical, accusing, defaming, hostile and inaccurate or even slanderous words.

All of us can probably think a time when we were hurt by someone’s words. And we probably know of at least one good relationship that was destroyed, a church that was split, or a family that doesn’t talk any more because of hurtful words.

The Bible is clear that we’re to stop “tearing one another down” by our “slanderous” speech: Brothers and sisters, do not slander one another. Anyone who speaks against a brother or sister or judges them speaks against the law and judges it. When you judge the law, you are not keeping it, but sitting in judgment on it.  There is only one Lawgiver and Judge, the one who is able to save and destroy. But you—who are you to judge your neighbor? (James 4:11-12)

So, what is “slanderous” speech? It’s to say something untrue or negative about another person. More specifically, it’s to say something about someone (that may or may not be true), but when we say it, our motive is to make others think less of that person.

Most of the time, we’re not even aware that we’re using slanderous speech. It happens in our normal conversation and even in our prayer requests. Often, it’s not intentional or even willful. It’s the kind of speech that rolls off our tongue and doesn’t ever come to our minds.

So how can we know if our speech is slanderous? It’s harmful if the one who is listening has a lower or negative view of a person we were talking about as a result of our conversation.

Why do we wound others with our words? Why do even sincere Christians engage in this behavior? There are two reasons:

1. Unconsciously, when it comes to relationships we buy the lie: “If other people would shape up, then my life would work out.” When we have a conflict with our spouse, our boss, kids, or even a conflict in a church situation, it’s much easier to cast blame and assume that the problem is the other person. We do this in order to justify our own behavior. Rather than face our own insecurity and fear of being rejected, we put down the other person first. Sound familiar?

2. We have a perverse appetite for information. The words of a gossip are like choice morsels; they go down to the inmost parts. (Proverbs 26:22)  We love gossip because we love to hear yucky stuff about other people. Go through any grocery store checkout line and you’ll see that almost all of the magazines displayed are geared toward finding out the gossip about celebrities. They tell us who’s broken up with so and so and who is living with someone else.

Many of us have gotten caught in the web of speaking against another person. I believe that this is so common even among Christians that it’s not a question of “if” this is happening, but a matter of “how much” we are doing it. Until now, perhaps many of us haven’t even thought it was a big deal. But it is. There are some sins that we think are small, but God thinks are really big – and slanderous speech is one of them. Our words have the potential to deeply injure others.

This week, we’ll begin the series Five Lies that Ruin Relationships. In it, we will ask and answer the question: “Do wrong beliefs produce wrong behavior?” We’ll also identify five common lies we believe that prevent us from having the kind of relationships God longs for us to have. During our time together, it’s my hope and prayer that we’ll discover the power in knowing and applying God’s truth to our relationships.

[Click the link above to navigate Chip’s blog and read the rest of the series.]


October 6, 2013

Did I Say That Out Loud?

Filed under: Uncategorized — paulthinkingoutloud @ 5:23 pm
Tags: , , , , , , ,

Speak No Evil

Yesterday, just before we closed, we included a link to a related post by Dianne Guthmuller. Today, I want to feature her writing here. This topic seems to come around here rather frequently; maybe God is trying to tell us something!  It appeared at her blog under the title Pass Me The Duct Tape. You’re encouraged to click through and discover other excellent articles on her blog, which is a daily Bible study similar to what we do here.

Today’s Scripture Reading:  Luke 8:1-3, Mark 3:20-230, Matthew 12:22-45, Mark 3:31-35, Matthew 12:46-50, Luke 8:19-21, Mark 4:1-9, Matthew 13:1-9, Luke 8:4-8, Mark 4:10-20

And I tell you this, you must give an account on judgment day for every idle word you speak.  The words you say will either acquit you or condemn you. Matthew 12:36-37

Every idle word…

Lord help me!  I’m in trouble.  Where’s the duct tape?

I looked up the word “idle” in Word Studies in the New Testament hoping for a reprieve, but none was to be found…

Idle (ἀργὸν). The word is compounded of ἀ, not, and ἔργον, work. An idle word is a nonworking word; an inoperative word. It has no legitimate work, no office, no business, but is morally useless and unprofitable.

Friends, Jesus wasn’t just talking about profanity, He was talking about gossip, criticism, whining, complaining, etc; anything that isn’t adding value to people’s lives.

Let’s look at the context in which this verse is written (Matthew 12:22-37).

Jesus was getting it from all sides:

  • The crowds were following Him everywhere; He couldn’t get enough time to Himself to grab a bite to eat
  • His family was trying to pull Him away from the crowds saying, “He’s out of his mind”
  • The teachers of religious law were saying He was possessed by Satan

When the teachers accused Jesus of being possessed by Satan He took great offense, not because they were doubting Him, but because they were speaking against the supernatural power of the Holy Spirit; which the religious leaders should have recognized.  Jesus gave a timeless warning that had grave consequences against speaking against the power of the Holy Spirit.

It was in this serious setting that Jesus warned us about idle words.  He prefaced His warning with a word picture, which was the common way to communicate in Jewish culture.

A tree is identified by its fruit.  If a tree is good, its fruit will be good. If a tree is bad, its fruit will be bad. –Matthew 12:33

If our heart is good our words will be good.  If our heart is bad our words will be bad.

In Jesus’ day the only words they dealt with were spoken words; very few people could write. Fast forward 2,000 years…how many words to you speak, write, type, or text in a 24 hour period?

Before you run to the garage and get your duct tape, remember Jesus sees and know our heart, so even if we keep our “idle” words from coming out, we’re still accountable for them.

What can we do about our idle words?

Don’t focus on the words…

Focus on getting your heart tuned into the Holy Spirit; ask Him to create in you a clean heart (Psalm 51:10) and your words will follow.

Heavenly Father, we want our words and our heart to be pleasing to You.  Lord, You made us, You know our human failings. Please forgive us when we fail; speak loudly to us when we do.  We say with David, create in us a clean heart.  Jesus, make us like You!

In Your Holy Name.  Amen and Amen!

July 8, 2012

Purity of Speech

Today’s reading is from Rev. Stephen Whyte, a pastor for many years in Toronto and Hamilton, Ontario, Canada.  This devotion appeared in a church newsletter in August, 1980. Stephen is the son of the late H. A. Maxwell Whyte, regarded in Pentecostal and Charismatic circles as a pioneer in deliverance ministry. Stephen took over his father’s church, then known as the United Apostolic Faith Church (later as Dayspring Christian Fellowship) but later moved to the Christian & Missionary Alliance denomination.  I had the privilege of attending UAFC for two years, and in copying this out, I was reminded of the very, very high place of scripture in Stephen’s teachings.

The good man out of the good treasure of his heart brings forth what is good; and the evil man out of the evil treasure brings forth what is evil; for his mouth speaks from that which fills his heart.   Luke 6:45 (NASB)

Our tongues will, sooner or later, reveal what is really in our hearts. And without Jesus, our hearts are “desperately wicked and deceitful above all else.” But even with Jesus in our lives, our tongues reveal that there is yet transformation needed in our beings. We should be challenged by the Lord who looks on the heart, and who cannot be hoodwinked, to get our lives in order that we might be truly conformed to the image of His Son.

Jesus never spoke an idle word; yet the Bible declares that we shall give account for such words we utter. The word idle means “unprofitable, hollow, useless,” or by implication, “injurious.” Succinctly, an idle word is a careless word, which because of its worthlessness, had better been left unspoken.

How many of us have not been deeply hurt, and except for the restoration power of Jesus, permanently scarred by such “idle words!” But worse than that, we too often have been the instrument by which such verbal injury has been inflicted. James declared that “the tongue is a fire, the very world of iniquity.” (James 3:2-12) As we utter such unprofitable words, we are revealing what is really in the depths of our soul. It often requires pressure and anger for these words to be expressed, but they have been hidden in our hearts all the while.

As a people who are being shaped by a loving Father, we must, under the enabling power of the Holy Spirit, take action to purify our hearts in order that our tongues will be pure. Such action requires a setting of the will (a conscious decision), the possible need to seek prayer for release from Satanic bondage, and the disciplining of the mind under the anointing of the Spirit, in order that we lay aside the deeds of the flesh. (Eph 4:31; 1 Pet. 2:1; 3:10; Psa. 34:13)

All of us must continually come before the Lord and cleanse our hearts and minds in order that we “speak not evil of one another.” (James 4:11) As we do so, the rewards of such discipline will be great. Solomon declared that, “whoever keeps his mouth and tongue, keeps his soul from troubles. (Prov 21:23)

It is God’s desire that our tongues be a “fountain of life” (Prov 10:11) and that our speech be “seasoned with grace” (Col. 4:6) in order that we might “know how to speak a word in season to him that is weary. (Isa. 50:4)  We probably cannot fully appreciate the positive effects which words of praise, encouragement, appreciation, comfort and compassion have on a person. But God is exhorting us to see that our very words can bring restoration and life into a situation where death is reigning. (Prov 16:24; 25:11; Eccl. 10:12)

Truly, “death and life are in the power of the tongue.” (Prov. 18:21)  Let us be sure that with our mouths we are bearers of life and not death. (Col. 3:21 AMP) May our cry, with David be,

“Let the words of my mouth and the mediation of my heart be acceptable in the sight, O Lord.” (Psa. 19:14)

~Rev. Stephen Whyte