Posted by: mikenicholsblog | January 10, 2010

I won’t be the judge of that

“With friends like that who needs enemies!”, is a reality that everyone has experienced. We have felt the pain of a friend betraying our confidence, and sadly we have harmed the trust that others needed from us. Often relationships are often damaged because of our judgmental attitudes. The book of Job can certainly offer a vivid picture of friendships, and the cancer of judgment.

In revisiting a friend from Scripture in the last couple of days, I have been challenged and convicted about the ease with which I can judge others. Job went through pain that was beyond imagination. In Satan’s attack, he lost his children, his possessions and his reputation. When three old friends heard the news, they came to his side.  But too soon, care turned to judgment.

One of his friends was Eliphaz. You’ve probably never compared your life to his. But Eliphaz is an example to all of us, of what not to do in the godly friend department. His “being there” for Job eventually became judgment. This is admittedly a strong illustration of judging someone, but my burden is that the principle of judging has become a normal part of living. Maybe as normal as breathing.  God’s heart is that we love one another, and not judge. He commanded us to do both (John 13:34, Luke 6:37).  Eliphaz, and Job’s other friends took an amazing opportunity to care, and turned it into short-sighted explanations.

Let me share how easy I can become Eliphaz, instead of a giver of grace. In church this morning I saw a young woman looking at her cell phone. My first thought was, “I can’t believe she is doing that”, but then I saw her actively engaged in worship. I wonder how many times I have been distracted by my Blackberry? Because of background and culture, I can easily make wrong judgments. I have seen someone with several tattoos, and made quick character assessments. But God looks on the heart. I may never like tattoos, but viewing others should be from a platform of love and care.  Let the words of Matthew 7:1-5 give us perspective.

Matthew 7:1-5 (MSG)
Don’t pick on people, jump on their
failures, criticize their fault- unless,
of course, you want the same treatment.
That critical spirit has a way of
boomeranging. It’s easy to see a
smudge on your neighbor’s face and
be oblivious to the ugly sneer on your
own. Do you have the nerve to say,
‘Let me wash your face for you,’ when
your own face is distorted by contempt?
It’s this whole traveling road- show
mentality all over again, playing a
holier- than- thou part instead of just
living your part. Wipe that ugly sneer
off your own face, and you might be
fit to offer a washcloth to your neighbor.

This week you will have plenty of opportunities to make a judgment about someone else. You can easily think about their faults, weaknesses, misplaced views etc…but just maybe with a consciousness to care first and love regardless, you will ask God to intervene in their needs. To not be judgmental does not mean you have to stop having opinions.  But it should cause us to reflect on what Christ would do. Christ met others at their point of need and so can we.

Sit on the ash heap with a friend in need when God presents the opportunity.  Sit, listen, grieve, encourage and pray.  Sit in support, don’t sit in judgment.  When we are like Eliphaz, we may feel right, but when we are like Christ, we are right.

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