I have a couple littles at my house that are crazy about bacon. It’s an unnatural love for pork that I find somewhat disturbing, but nonetheless, it is what it is. Recently I cooked a plate of bacon for breakfast and one of my littles, who gets up before the rest of the house, “called dibs” on the first piece of crispy goodness. I walk down the hallway to awake the rest of the sleepy heads, but when I come back there is only four pieces of bacon left on the plate.
Me: What happened to the bacon?
Her: I ate it (with a funny look on her face).
Me: (Stunned) ALL of that? How many pieces did you eat?!
Her: Eight….Don’t judge me!
As my sweet southern Grandmother would say…”Oh Lawd! Help your time girl”. I’m not exactly sure what that means but she always said it when I did something crazy. Today’s version would probably be, “Have mercy child!” But bless her heart the girl was hungry and now the bacon was gone and she did not like the way her Momma was looking at her. “Don’t judge me.” No doubt she picked that up from her older siblings who picked that up from our culture. Nobody wants to be judged. Me either. It stings.
As a family that is large by today’s standards and chooses to homeschool part of our children while living on one income; as a family that lives with Autism on a daily basis; as a family that is open and transparent about our struggles, so that they might benefit others; as a family that lives in a glass house called the church parsonage; as a family that attempts with all our hearts to be obedient when God asks it of us; as a family that has been called to teach and share God’s word; as this family we have found ourselves regularly at the end of a pointing finger. Judgment comes at us for choices made, views held and decisions that aren’t popular. We have gotten nasty emails, unkind phone calls, been the topic of discussion at the water cooler and victim of social media. Tongues wag. It’s part of the deal and comes with the territory. One of my favorite verses in all of scripture is found in 1 Peter 2:15 – “It is God’s will that your honorable lives should silence those ignorant people who make foolish accusations against you.” Clearly the Christians of the early church were dealing with the same stuff. Facebook might be a new fangled thing to some of us old folks, but there’s nothing new about being judged.
Nobody likes being judged. But our culture is full of plenty of it these days. The world judges the church and the church judges the world. And everyone who is different from us falls under our judgement. I’ll admit, that I can be thick headed sometimes, but on occasion I actually get what the Lord is saying to me. Let me explain. Last night I listened to a message with a focus on the text from 1 Peter 5:5-7 – “…And all of you, serve each other in humility, for ‘God opposes the proud, but favors the humble.’ So humble yourselves under the mighty power of God, and at the right time he will lift you up in honor. Give all your worries and cares to God, for he cares about you.” Interestingly enough I found my Bible reading this morning to be the same passage. Hmm, coincidence? And then, God just got plain bossy with me, because when I opened up my prayer devotional, right there in black and white He had the audacity to have the SAME passage listed on August 30th. Seriously? Ok. Ok. I hear you Lord!
As a Bible teacher and writer I often hear scripture that moves me and my mind immediately begins to think about ways to share this scripture with others. But I have to say, when you get hit 3 times in 12 hours by the same passage, friends that’s not just for others, that’s totally for you. God is speaking. Have ears that listen. Here’s what my ears are hearing for ME today. When I’m judged by others I still have no right to feel self-righteous. I cannot exalt myself. I can only humble myself under the mighty hand of God and at the right time He will lift me up. If I try to lift myself up, then I’m headed for a major heartache because God opposes the proud. And here’s the rub: Satan can use other people’s judgment to cause me to sin against God by becoming proud. Oh my goodness. Am I thankful for the light of God’s word that shines into my heart? Yes. Is it easy? Hardly ever.
Oh but there’s more. God wasn’t finished with me yet. I decided to go back to the beginning of Peter and soon ran across this verse in 1 Peter 4:17 – “For the time has come for judgment, and it must begin with God’s household. And if judgment begins with us, what terrible fate awaits those who have never obeyed God’s Good News?” This passage is telling us that only God can judge…but He doesn’t start with the ungodly of the world, the unbelieving or the evil…He starts with us. Those that belong to Him. The church.
My mind ran to all the times I’ve passed judgment on others and all the times I’ve said or heard others say, “I know I can’t judge, but….”. I have a kid at my house that often says, “No offense, but…” and then says something offensive! I recently explained, in an attempt to keep said child from getting their lights punched out by friends, siblings…or total strangers, that saying “No offense” before a comment doesn’t give you a license to say anything you want! But we often do that as the church of the living God. We say, “I don’t mean to judge” as a precursor to our judgment. But God is saying that judgment begins with us, the church of the living God. Not that we are the judge…but we are being judged by Him! He isn’t so concerned with our church attendance, our Bible studies, our check list of good behavior, but rather, He is judging the motives behind our actions, the attitudes we have, the love in our heart. He judges the “why” and not just the “what”.
God has shown me how I can fall into the trap of being judgmental, that judgment comes from pride and God opposes the proud. If I don’t want God to oppose me then I must humble myself before Him and focus on living a life that will pass His judgment. I don’t need to worry about anybody else. His is the only test I need to pass. And of course, it is much better that I humble MYSELF before God, under His mighty hand…than get to the place where He sees the need to use His mighty hand to humble me.
Photo credit: lambdachialpha via VisualHunt / CC BY-NC-SA