I struggle with judging others, how about you?

exo-planet-earth-from-spaceThis is the view from my high horse, I hope you like it 😉

One of the reasons I write about the things I do, is not to condemn anyone. Rather it is because I have been guilty of all that stuff and as Jesus leads me deeper into his freedom, I  am starting to see how self-defeating all that stuff is. The problem is that we do it with the best motives, and those motives can’t be judged as wrong, they are in fact very honourable, however that doesn’t stop the self-defeating cycle we get stuck in.

Last week I wrote about how we engage in self-defeating practices regarding unity. This week I would like to explore the issue of judging others. So here’s how it works for me:

I know what I should do to be a “good Christian” things like reading the bible, praying all the time, believing God for break-through, evangelising, making disciples, making leaders, fasting etc. So I start to do those things. I get really intentional about it. I can schedule times of the days when I do these things, I get an accountability partner and volunteer for different ministry opportunities. Everything is going great, but before I even know it something starts to happen. I look around at what other Christians are doing, or more precisely, what they aren’t doing and I judge them.

I judge because it is hard to do all those things, I would rather be in the shopping mall, than outside in the parking lot trying to convince someone they need Jesus. I judge them because I am doing a far better job than they are, and I feel good about myself. I judge them because it’s unfair that they are at the beach with family or friends having an ice-cream, while I fast and sit in my prayer closet praying for the Muslims to see the light of Jesus. Then when my fridge, microwave and car radiator all break in the same month I turn to God and say: “Give me a break, I thought we were on the same side!” To top it all off, if you are a leader in your local “church” then you can’t acknowledge any of the stuff above because you need to be an example to the people in the congregation. At this point you are probably angry with me or feel a little sad for me, and to be honest I probably deserve it 😉

For many years that was my christian experience. I was stuck because the initial motive was good, those activities themselves are good too, so where was it all going so wrong?

To understand my point of view you need to know that I see everything including the christian religion as coming from the Tree of the Knowledge of Good and Evil. Many of the things I have described would fall under the “good” category of that tree. Also I see Jesus on the cross as humanity’s second chance at the Tree of Life and everything he did and invites us into is from that tree.

One of the things that I have found extremely freeing is to honestly acknowledge what Jesus is doing and producing in my life each day and being open enough to say another Yes to him. When I live like this, letting Jesus life inside me inspire me to certain activites, I am no longer doing them to get God, I am doing them because I already have him.

You see all the “spiritual growth” I experienced in the past was, if I am honest, due to my own effort and the fruit of it was that I became judgemental. Now as I say Yes to Jesus in the small inner promptings, I have experienced far more spiritual growth and all I can acknowledge is that it wasn’t me. This has created a far more restful posture in my relationship with God. At the moment this area of my own judgmentalism is something He has been working on in me.

I think it is sad that we make christianity about doing the right things instead of the wrong things. I believe the only way we can change is if we experience our life from a different source and then respond to that life, instead of trying to meet benchmarks, expectations and obligations.

Would love to hear your stories or thoughts

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11 thoughts on “I struggle with judging others, how about you?

  1. I watched a short video from Greg Boyd, some time ago, where he was talking about the real reason God didn’t want Adam and Eve not to eat from the tree of the knowledge of good and evil. In the video, Greg makes the assertion that God’s real issue wasn’t, as much, their disobedience, as we’ve all been taught, but their newly acquired ability to know and judge between good and evil, hence the name of the tree. God knew that having an awareness of good and evil, and the ability to judge between them, would be catastrophic for our relationship with Him. He didn’t want us to even be aware that good and evil existed and He certainly didn’t want us taking on the burden of judging, as it is a huge responsibility; one that we were never made for. Looking across the span of history, I am convinced that the woes of society come more from man taking on the role of judge, than the individual acts of sin that we so often point to as the problem. Sin, as we know it, has its roots in judgement, and judgment, in the tree of the knowledge of good and evil.

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    1. Thanks for you comment! I totally agree, in fact I think that when we judge we are exercising an independence and pride that is not good for us. I have been reading Jesus Manifesto by Frank Viola and Leonard Sweet and he talks about how we can’t live towards justice but we can live towards mercy. I like the humble posture of mercy though I am too often judgemental. Anyway what Frank says is that when we enter heaven it might be easy to cry out for justice against all the wrongs in the world, but would we ask for that same justice to be poured out on ourselves, obviously not. What we need is mercy and what we can give is mercy.

      I am starting to think that if we pursue justice for justice sake we end up justifying this and that, and have a greater and greater tendancy towards violence, and because we feel justified for doing what is justice, we start to excuse our means for carrying out justice.

      In South Africa, there is so much that is unjust, I am not sure we can ever have justice. I think only God can actually do that. I do believe that we can live justly towards others, and obviously pursue and give mercy to others.

      Anyway just a few thoughts

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    2. Just as a sidenote, and I apologise for leading away from the direct topic at hand.

      Personally I think it was by disobeying God that man obtained the “knowledge of good and evil” and the disobedience was eating from the tree that God forbid man to eat from.

      So the name of the tree is the result of the disobedience, and the gaining of the “knowledge of good and evil” in regards to the actual knowledge itself is the result of that disobedience.

      What I am saying is that it was not some “supernatural fruit” that once eaten imbibes one with the “knowledge of good and evil”, but rather the act of disobeying God’s command (Genesis 2:15-17) that produced the “knowledge of good and evil” in man.

      And thus the tree was so named.

      Simply by disobeying God’s command, (any command would have done the same), would have given mankind the “knowledge of good and evil”. It just so happened that the command in the narrative was specifically not eating from one specific tree.

      So in that sense I have always taken the name of the tree to be much like the other names of people, places and objects in the Old Testament.

      “When they came to Marah, they could not drink the water of Marah because it was bitter; therefore it was named Marah.” (Exodus 15:23)

      (“Bochim” Judges 2:1-5 would be another example I can think of off the top of my head.)

      Anyway thought I might share that for interest sake.

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      1. Totally agreed Tom, I think it’s so superficial to take a passage like that too literally, especially because in this instance it seems to actually be a poem passed down through oral tradition.

        However I do think that the fruit from the Tree of Life was the divine life of God in form that mankind could receive, so when I say Jesus is our second chance a at the Tree of Life, I think that’s what he is alluding to when he says “eat my flesh and drink my blood”, our receiving is far more relational and identificational as in Roman’s 6 and 8

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      2. You’re dumping out my traditional evangelical bucket, Mash and Justin! 🙂 I’m OK with that, though. I’ve had my bucket tipped many times, these past few years and I love it! I was raised to be a nice little biblical literalist and still tend to approach the Bible that way, unless someone comes along and points out a different perspective. What you’re saying makes complete sense. I guess, whether literal, or metaphorical trees, though, the result was the same.

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      3. Hey Kevin, here is a video that has helped me deal with that issue. Just because we don’t always take the bible literally doesn’t mean we don’t take it seriously. It is so much fun to engage fellow believers as we can learn so much from each other hey.

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      4. You’re absolutely right, Justin. I take what is in the Bible, very seriously. I don’t, however, view the Bible as the “fourth member of the trinity” anymore, which makes a lot of my friends uneasy. I had this conversation with a friend a while back. FRIEND: “If we didn’t have the Bible, how would we know about Jesus?” ME: Well; what did Jesus say? What did Paul experience?” FRIEND: “We wouldn’t even know that, if we didn’t have the Bible.” ME: “We wouldn’t need to know it; we’d be living examples of it.” I’m not ready to toss the Bible out, but I no longer believe it is a necessity, in order for a Christian to “grow” in their relationship with Christ. There’s no doubt that God uses the Bible to teach us and it serves as a window to HIStory on earth, but I don’t think it was ever intended to be our guidebook for life.

        Thanks for sharing that video. I watched an interview with NT Wright a while back, where he shared his thoughts on Revelation, the “rapture” and the end times. He confirmed, for me, a lot of what I thought I was hearing from The Spirit. My traditional teaching is often at war with what I feel I’m hearing from Him and when everyone I know is steeped in that traditional thought, it’s hard to have fruitful conversations about it all.

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      5. Yeah Kevin my problem with guys who want to take the bible literally is that they don’t take the bible seriously enough. I have a sneaky suspicion that probably subconsciously we advocate this literal interpretation so that we can dismiss the “ridiculous passages” like stoning people, sacrificing animals etc and yet we can embrace other things like priestly hierarchy, tithing and works based law keeping.

        I think that if we put the bible aside we would still have enough historical evidence to know about Jesus and the historical evidence of the church itself would be testimony to the fact that Jesus was indeed an important figure in human history and even in God’s story. However we don’t have to do that and the fact that we have the Bible allows us to enrich the understanding of Jesus that we do have. I do think that it has more to do with how we interpret the bible and learning to do it like Jesus did.

        Mind if I give you another link to consider? Here it is by Richard Rohr

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  2. Doh! I should have proof read my comment before posting. I meant to say “the real reason God didn’t want Adam and Eve to eat from the tree of the knowledge of good and evil.”

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