Letting Go of Judgment

We have all fallen into judgmental attitudes to some degree, knowingly and unknowingly. The pointing of the finger happens to all of us, and often, we don't even realize it. When was the last time you were offended? Bitter? Hurt by someone? Offence, unforgiveness, and resentment all go hand in hand with judgment. Even when we just feel hurt by another person, we can unknowingly make a judgment about them in our hearts.
"If you do away with the yoke of oppression, with the pointing finger and malicious talk, and if you spend yourselves in behalf of the hungry and satisfy the needs of the oppressed, then your light will rise in the darkness, and your night will become like the noonday. The Lord will guide you always; he will satisfy your needs in a sun-scorched land and will strengthen your frame. You will be like a well-watered garden, like a spring whose waters never fail." Isaiah 58:9-11
A couple months ago, I was in the car with Ryan when I felt the Holy Spirit meet me in my thoughts. God often speaks to me through my imagination and the images I see in my mind. I like to think of my mind as a canvas for him to come paint his picture on. This particular day I was lost in thought about humanity and God's heart for his people. As I was thinking to myself, I saw the Lord come pick me up by the hands and take me above the earth, over the oceans, and every nation. I was seeing faces of different people in their everyday whereabouts. I saw people from every tribe and culture. I saw drug addicts, prostitutes, orphaned children in India, ISIS leaders, dictators, oppressors, and child molesters. I saw the arrogant and self-righteous, people of other faiths, and those who lived in constant fear. I even saw people who lived for security and seemed to rarely step beyond their own front door. In every person I heard the Lord whispering, "I want my dwelling place to be in them. I choose that person. I died so that I could live in them. In all of their mess, in all of their pain, in all of the sin, I want to live in them." With each face I saw, I felt a deep compassion. I found that I could identify with every single one of them. I was not above or beneath any of them. I could relate to every person as a human who is capable of experiencing or inflicting the same horrors. The Lord began to speak to me about the importance of identifying with others. We can't truly love someone if we lack the ability to identify with them as a human who needs hope, reconciliation, and redemption. I believe there is a power in prayer that lies in the depth of identifying with the person we are praying for. That is love.
The ones who enrage us
Here's the truth about humanity (and yes, this includes ALL of us). We are all capable of extraordinary love and virtuous deeds, and we are all capable of horrific acts and terrible destruction. We are not exempt from anything. I am not above the drug-addicted prostitute, nor am I beneath the evangelist preaching in stadiums. There is no one worse than me. On the other hand, there is no one God loves more than me. Have you ever looked at someone whose life was clearly in a downward spiral and thought, "dang, how can this person be so ______ (arrogant, disillusioned, greedy, rude). I would never do that. I would never find myself in that situation. I would never be that way." I know I have been quick to find fault or make judgments towards someone before. Be careful about the assumptions you make about another human being. Be careful who you point your finger at. "Do not judge, or you too will be judged. For in the same way you judge others, you will be judged, and with the measure you use, it will be measured to you" (Matthew 7:1). Our negative assumptions about people will kill our compassion, our empathy, and our ability to walk like Jesus did.
  There is power in empathy and identification. Old testament intercessors often identified with the people they prayed for. They repented to God on behalf of a people group even if they themselves were innocent. Ezra, Daniel, and Nehemiah are a few examples. "Lord... we have sinned and done wrong. We have been wicked and rebelled; we have turned away from your commands and laws" (Daniel 9:4-5). If you've read the book of Daniel, you know this guy was far from being rebellious or wicked. He walked in utmost integrity and righteousness. Yet, he did not consider himself above the others. He understood the power of identifying with the people he was praying for. Daniel goes onto say, "We do not make requests of you because we are righteous, but because of your great mercy" (vs. 18). In the New Testament, we see Jesus operating in the same way. He ate with sinners. Culturally in that time, eating with others was symbolic of identification. This is why the pharisees were so offended every time Jesus had a meal with sinners. How could a holy man possibly identify himself with such people? Wouldn't he be concerned with his reputation? Nope. This is the beauty of our Jesus. Everyone belongs. Can you imagine what it must of felt like to be one of those who ate with Jesus? I belong.. I'm included.. He isn't counting my sins against me..
Power of compassion
There is power in compassion. Jesus healed all the sick because of his compassion. We have to understand the powerful choice to either love or condemn. Judging another human being will never help them, never set them free, never teach them a lesson, and it will only put us in bondage and keep us from operating in a loving spirit. It is absolutely vital that we understand the heart of God concerning another person. What kind of emotions do you feel when you think of Adolf Hitler? Be honest. I believe God's heart was deeply grieved over the concern he felt for Adolf. Can you imagine? Adolf was created in the image of God just like the rest of us. He was born to express love and be fathered by his maker. A deep longing for God was written on his heart. But somehow his calling in life and the longings of his heart became corrupt, twisted, and disillusioned. What did he experience that led to a tragic and devastating outcome? Who were the teachers and influences in his life growing up? I imagine the heart of God was pursuing Adolf for all of his days... deeply desiring that man; hurting for him; wanting him to be reconciled with the truth of who he was created to be. We really have no idea what people have been through and what's going on inside them. If any of us truly walked in Adolf's shoes, who knows if we would've acted any differently. People are not our problem. We are in a spiritual war and human hearts are the territory that is being fought over day after day. If we point our finger and judge, we are coming under the same spiritual darkness that we are pointing our finger at. Be the light! Jesus viewed people with a supernatural love and compassion. He had an earnest desire for people to be free from whatever afflicted them, both physically and mentally. We are called to do the same. I wonder how many lives ended in tragedy could have been prevented if a follower of Jesus had come alongside them and truly shown them the Father.
"But what about correction?" Good question. We have a duty to our brothers and sisters in Christ when we see they are dabbling in behavior or thoughts that are contrary to God and his goodness for them. We correct our fellow Jesus followers because we want to see them functioning as true children of God- ambassadors of the Kingdom of heaven. Our corrections should be full of love, compassion, and tenderness towards that person. Before correcting someone, it would serve us well to ask ourselves what our motivation is. If it's not love, it's probably best to work that out with the Lord first before addressing your brother or sister. Some people love to correct others out of their own fear, judgment, pain, or offences. Jesus never did that. "That person really needs to be put in their place..." Nope. Not by you. Some people are afraid to bring any correction at all, and that is a whole different issue. I don't want to undercut boldness here, because I don't believe in wimpy Christianity. Be bold in your love and in the truth of God's word. But don't try to prove a point to someone in an unloving way and then label that interaction as being "bold for Christ." No no no.
When God showed us his love for mankind, he sent Jesus who came as a man to fully identify with us. He reconciled us to the Father when he bore the weight of our sin. We must see with his eyes. We need to feel what he feels towards his children- all of them. We need a revelation of God's heart. If we will lay down our accusations, stop pointing our finger, and choose to see a person for their created value, our light will rise in the darkness. 
Kathryn Brown

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