Laymanointing

…. they were unschooled, ordinary men …. they had been with Jesus …. the crippled man healed standing with them – Acts 4:13,14

To judge, or not to judge? .. When not to confront, argue?

“Do not judge so that you will not be judged.
are Christians not to judge others ?

Should we be accountable to one another?

In this post, we’ll explore:

** The Law of Love
** To judge or not to judge … in church?
** How about those who have yet to know the Lord?
** Our attitude when judging
** How should we judge?  Content.
** When not to confront, argue?  
** Further thoughts on confronting

About interpreting the Bible:
* In the original manuscripts of the Bible, there were no chapter separations, and verse numbers (Wikipedia), i.e. it was continuous text.
* The best explanation of a Bible passage is the Bible – 66 books .
* Bible verses should be read in relation to its original context of the passage and book.

judge2


The Law of love

Mathew 7:1 (NASB)
1  “Do not judge so that you will not be judged.

What does this verse mean?
Let’s first have a look at what Jesus said
before & after this (i.e. the context)
in the sermon on the mount,
first in Luke 6, then in Matthew 5 & 7.

Luke 6:35-37 (NASB)
35 But love your enemies, and do good,
and lend, expecting nothing in return;
and your reward will be great,
and you will be sons of the Most High; for He Himself is kind to ungrateful and evil men.
 

36 Be merciful,
just as your Father is merciful.

37 Do not judge,
and you will not be judged;

and do not condemn,
and you will not be condemned;

pardon,
and you will be pardoned.

Matthew 5:44, 45, 48;   7:1, 12 (NASB)
5:44 But I say to you, love your enemies
and pray for those who persecute you
,

5:45 so that you may be sons of your Father who is in heaven;
for He causes His sun to rise on the evil and the good,
and sends rain on the righteous and the unrighteous.

5:48 Therefore you are to be perfect,
as your heavenly Father is perfect.

7:1  Do not judge so that you will not be judged.

7:12 “In everything, therefore,
treat people the same way
you want them to treat you,

for this is the Law and the Prophets.

Keeping what Jesus said in mind in the sermon on the mount,
let’s have a look in James:

2:8 If, however, you are fulfilling the royal law
according to the Scripture,

You shall love your neighbor as yourself,”
you are doing well.

4:11 Do not speak against one another, brethren.
He who speaks against a brother or judges his brother,

speaks against the law   and judges the law;

but if you judge the law,
you are not a doer of the law
but a judge of it.      
(the law)

4:12 There is only one Lawgiver and Judge,
the One who is able to save and to destroy;
but
who are you
who judge your neighbor?

5:9 Do not complain, brethren, against one another,
so that
you
yourselves may not be judged;
behold,
the Judge is standing right at the door.

James 2:8;   4: 11, 12;   5:9 (HCSB)

Consider other English translations:
In verve 4:11:   speak against (NASB), slander (NIV), criticize (HCSB)
In verse 5:9:  complain (NASB), grumble (NIV), find fault (NIRV)

In judging others, when the motive is to hurt.  (slander, criticize, find fault, speak against)
void of love,
this is contrary to the Lord’s law, You shall love your neighbor as yourself,”
— then, we’ll be judged by the Lord.

Therefore, its a question of the heart — motive, intention.

 Love takes no pleasure in evil
but rejoices over the truth.

1 Corinthians 13:6 (NCV)

Conversely,
24 He who hates
disguises it with his lips,

But he lays up deceit in his heart.
25 When he speaks graciously, do not believe him,
For there are seven abominations in his heart.
Proverbs 26:24,25 (NASB)

Labeling, name-calling, slandering, fault-finding
hurt others.

By judging in a judgmental, critical, fault-finding attitude,
one inches closer to behave like the adversary,
the accuser of the brethren (Revelation 12:10)

sadly,
They claim to know God,
but by their actions they deny him. ..

Titus 1:16 (NIV)
(a challenging verse for all of us to pray for our own actions to honor the Lord)

Let’s observe an example of what Jesus meant —
contrast Jesus’ response to the reaction/attitudes of a Samaritan village and His disciples :

53 But they (the Samaritan village)
did not receive Him (Jesus),
because His face was set for the journey to Jerusalem.

54 And when His disciples James and John saw this, they said,
“Lord, do You want us
to command fire to come down from heaven
and consume them, just as Elijah did?”

55 But He turned and rebuked them     ( not  the Samaritan village! ),
and said, “You do not know what manner of spirit you are of.
56 For the Son of Man did not come to destroy men’s lives
but to save
them.”

And they went to another village.
Luke 9:53-56 (NKJV)

Rejection, …. not an easy pill to swallow,
yet, Jesus clearly demonstrated the way of love & forgiveness — grace.

A further example — the parable of the Pharisee and Tax Collector (Luke 18:9-14)

In summary,
the judgmental, self-righteous Pharisee prayed,
I thank you, God, that
I am not like other people—cheaters, sinners, adulterers.
I’m certainly not like that tax collector!
 “

The contrite tax collector prayed, “O God, be merciful to me, for I am a sinner.’

and Jesus said,
I tell you, this sinner, not the Pharisee,
returned home justified before God
.

Luke 18:14 (NLT)

In the sermon on the mount in Matthew 5, Jesus explained the second command,
You shall love your neighbor as yourself,”
… to include also our enemies,
love your enemies and pray for those who persecute you,
so that you may be sons of your Father

which is perfectly aligned with what Jesus said
at the beginning of his sermon on the mount (Matthew 5-7):

“Blessed are the merciful, for they shall receive mercy.
“Blessed are the pure in heart, for they shall see God.
“Blessed are the peacemakers, for they shall be called sons of God.
10 “Blessed are those who have been persecuted for the sake of righteousness, for theirs is the kingdom of heaven.
Matthew 5:7-10 (NASB)

and echoed in,

36 Be merciful,
just as your Father is merciful.

37 “Do not judge,
and you will not be judged;
and do not condemn,
and you will not be condemned;

pardon,
and you will be pardoned.
Luke 6:36, 37 (NASB)

Most of us will not murder our enemies,
or desire to create new foes,

however,  (according to the verses mentioned above)
… if we act, or vengefully respond by being judgmental —
slander, negative criticism, finding fault, speaking evil, defame, gossip, vilify others,
then we’ll be judged
as contrary to the the royal law
of loving our neighbor as ourself.

Hence, Jesus said, Do not judge
so that you will not be judged;
and do not condemn,
and you will not be condemned;

Above all, keep fervent in your love for one another,
because love covers a multitude of sins.
1 Peter 4:8 (NASB)

A person’s wisdom makes him slow to anger,
A person’s wisdom yields patience; 
it is to one’s glory
to overlook an offense.
Proverbs 19:11 (NET, NIV)

 

In everything, therefore, 
treat people the same way
you want them to treat you
for this is the Law and the Prophets.
Matthew 7:12 (NASB)

 

Paul shared his life example
12 … When we are reviled,    we bless;
when we are persecuted,     we endure it;
13 when we are slandered,    we respond graciously …
1 Corinthians 4:13 (HCSB)

 

… love is not easily angered,  it keeps no record of wrongs
1 Corinthians 13:5 (NIV)
because human anger does not produce
the righteousness that God desires

James 1:20 (NIV)

 

However, when our motive is in love and in truth,
to build up our neighbor, …
and at the opportune time, .. speak the truth in love

15 Instead, speaking the truth in love,
we will grow to become in every respect the mature body of him
who is the head, that is, Christ.
Ephesians 4:11 (NIV)

It is better to correct someone openly
than to love him and not show it.

Proverbs 27:5 (ICB)

Hence, judging or rebuking others is like a knife which can be used to hurt,
or is an invaluable kitchen aid for healthy meals, used to bless,
it very much depends on the motive and intention.

The words of the reckless pierce like swords,
Careless words stab like a sword
but
the tongue of the wise brings healing.

Anxiety weighs down the heart,
but a kind word cheers it up
Proverbs 12:18 (NIV, NCV), 12:25 (NIV)

And its precisely our motive and intention,
that the Lord is interested in.


To judge or not to judge … in church?

In Matthew 6, following the section on judging others, in the sermon on the mount,
Jesus said, “15 “Beware of the false prophets, who come to you in sheep’s clothing,
but inwardly are ravenous wolves.

16 You will know them by their fruits.
Grapes are not gathered from thorn bushes nor figs from thistles, are they?
 “

Matthew 7:15,16 (NASB)

In John 7, when the crowd accused Jesus,

20 The crowd replied, “You’re demon possessed! …

Jesus advised them,

John 7:24 (HCSB, NLT)
Stop judging according to outward appearances;
rather judge according to righteous judgment.

 Look beneath the surface
so you can judge correctly.”

Similarly, when Paul was accused by some folks in Corinth, he wrote
You are judging by appearances …
Look at the obvious facts. …
2 Corinthians 10:7 (NIV, NLT)

Let’s thoughtfully look beyond outward appearances,
examine the facts,
carefully examine beneath the surface.
Be fair & just.

Early in His trial, Jesus made it clear how the truth should be judged,
23 “If I have spoken wrongly,” Jesus answered him [high priest],
give evidence about the wrong;
but if rightly, why do you hit Me?”
John 18:23 (HCSB)

judge according to righteous judgment, judge correctly
based on hard facts, data, first-hand evidence,
&  fruit, impact/outcomes,
based on core principles through the lens
of the Word of God.

Not merely based on what we  feel or think
is right, or wrong, or acceptable, or compatible,
according to our own yardstick,
but according to the Word of God.

We do not compare ourselves with
those who think they are good.

They compare themselves with themselves.
They decide what they think is good or bad
and compare themselves with those ideas.
They are foolish.

2 Corinthians 10:12 (NLV)

In the New Testament church, John advised

Dear friends, do not believe every spirit,
but test the spirits to see whether they are from God,
because many false prophets have gone out into the world.

This is how you can recognize the Spirit of God:
Every spirit that acknowledges that Jesus Christ
has come in the flesh is from God,

1 John 4:1 (NIV)

We’re to test whether they are from God ?
Whether they acknowledge that Jesus Christ has come in the flesh?

Hence, who and what they believe?
What’s the source of their inspiration?

Paul advised,

19 Do not quench the Spirit. 20 Do not treat prophecies with contempt21
but test them all;
hold on to what is good,
22 reject every kind of evil.
1 Thessalonians 5:19-22 (NIV)

Test the messenger and the message.
The word ‘test in both passages is dokimazō, in the Greek,
to test, examine, prove, scrutinise (to see whether a thing is genuine or not), as metals (Thayers)

Here’s an example in the church at Ephesus,
I know your deeds,your hard work and your perseverance.
I know that you cannot tolerate wicked people,
that
you have tested
those who claim to be apostles
but are not, and have found them false.

Revelations 2:2 (NIV)

At Ephesus, the words & deeds of the false apostles were exposed by the church at Ephesus.

What’s the standard or measure ?

Now the Berean Jews were of more noble character than those in Thessalonica,
for they received the message with great eagerness
and examined the Scriptures every day
to see if what Paul said was true.
Acts 17:11 (NIV)

Jesus said,
19 Go therefore and make disciples of all the nations … 
20 teaching them to observe all that I commanded you;
Matthew 28:19,20 (NIV)

The Word of God.
all that Jesus commanded,
Not anyone’s opinion, ideas,
but what Jesus taught.

For the word of God is living and active
and sharper than any two-edged sword,

and piercing as far as the division of soul and spirit,
of both joints and marrow,

and able to judge the thoughts and intentions of the heart.
Hebrews 4:12 (NASB)

Soul  or Spirit inspired?  Source of inspiration?
Motive, motivation, the ‘why‘?
tested by the word of God.

Therefore, in an attitude of mutual submission,
in love and in truth … mutual accountability,
Submit to one another out of reverence for Christ.
Honor Christ by submitting to each other
Ephesians 5:17 (NIV, TLB)

In the last decade,  financial crises and corporate scandals & bankruptcies have rocked the world.
In most cases, these were caused by integrity, transparency, governance issues, accountability issues, checks & balances.

Thus,  Look beneath the surface, judge according to righteous judgment, test everything,
Look objectively at the obvious facts, … evidence
… examine the Scriptures


A while back, a dear friend was expressing his dissatisfaction with the pastor of his church.  As we discussed the reasons, … his answer was peppered with “I feel my pastor should this … and that “.  After some listening, suggested that he first forgive his pastor, as he is human like anyone of us;  none of us is perfect, that’s why we need Jesus.
Then, write out his list of issues he strongly feels about.
And next to each issue, find a Bible verse (if possible) to back up his issue.

Or, …. alternatively, perhaps it might be better,
find another church, where the pastor is more agreeable to him.
Rather than stay … and be a wet blanket.

After going through the exercise on his own,
he found, that most of the issues were matter of opinion and preferences, leadership style,
… rather than the Word of God.

Thankfully, he also met with his pastor.
They reconciled their differences,
and in his own words, … he felt peace in his heart.
Praise God!


How about those who have yet to know the Lord?

In judging others, Paul did make a distinction between those who know the Lord,
and those who have yet to believe.

12 What business is it of mine
to judge those outside the church?

Are you not to judge
those inside
?

13 God will judge
those outside.  ….
1 Corinthians 5:12, 13 (NIV)

What business is it of mine to judge those outside the church?
Impose or judge by Bible standards – others who do not know Him
(who do not know God’s Word)
God will judge those outside
God’s sovereign right, … not ours.

On a side note, when the Bible is meaningless to others,
its hard to use the Bible as the main basis for reasoning with them.

In the gospels, at the right moments,
Jesus confronted the Pharisees, the religious establishment, the merchants in the temple,
who knew the scriptures, and should have known better,
in the hope that they would turn their hearts back to God.

However,
Jesus was gracious and forgiving to the woman caught in adultery,
to the lying cheating, swindling chief tax collector, Zacchaeus,
to the criminal whose crime deserved death, crucified on the cross next to Jesus,
Nicodemus, a Pharisee who honestly enquired of Him.
And before His death, Jesus prayed
“Father, forgive them;
for they do not know what they are doing.”

Luke 23:34 (NASB)

While on earth, Jesus had much to say against the religious leaders who knew the scriptures (eg. Matthew 23).
Regarding the rulers of the land — the Gentile Romans, who did not have the scriptures, here’s an example,

Now there were some present at that time who told Jesus about the Galileans
whose blood Pilate had mixed with their sacrifices.

Jesus answered, “Do you think that these Galileans were worse sinners than all the other Galileans because they suffered this way?
I tell you, no!
But unless you repent, you too will all perish.

Luke 13:1-3 (NIV)

Jesus directed the people present to look at their own hearts first,
rather than Pilate’s (the Roman governor).

When Jesus met Pilate at His trial, Jesus said to Pilate,
“ “You would have no authority over Me at all,
if it hadn’t been given you from above
.”     
John 19:11 (HCSB)

When Joseph and Daniel became the most powerful government official in foreign empires, they were fair, just, and accountable.   They did not use their authority against the pagan priests, worship or practices of the land (eg. Genesis 47:22, 26).

In their life’s journey, they also encountered injustice
and false accusation which endangered their lives
… yet they  responded with grace and mercy with God’s help,
and God honored their trust in Him.

Jesus endured the ultimate injustice for all of us.
“Father, forgive them;
for they do not know what they are doing.”

Luke 23:34 (NASB)

… God is patient, because he wants everyone
to turn from sin and no one to be lost.
2 Peter 3:9 (CEV)

He has shown you, O mortal, what is good. And what does the Lord require of you?
To act justly and to love mercy
and to walk humbly with your God.
Micah 6:8 (NKJV)

When Paul was in Athens, although his spirit was being provoked within him as he was observing the city full of idols (Acts 17:16 NASB), Paul shared the good news and ministered to the people in gentleness and respect, full of grace, building bridges of understanding (Acts 17:16-34).

Paul wrote:
First of all, I ask that you
pray for all people.
Ask God to bless them and give them what they need.
And give thanks.

You should pray for rulers and for all who have authority.
Pray for these leaders so that we can live quiet and peaceful lives—lives full of devotion to God and respect for him.

This is good and pleases God our Savior.
God wants everyone to be saved
and to fully understand the truth.
1 Timothy 2:1-4 (ERV)


Our attitude when judging

Let’s explore Jesus’ sermon on the mount in Luke 6 and Matthew 6.
In Luke’s account,

Luke 6:31, 36, 37 (NASB)
31 Treat others the same way
you want them to treat you.

36 Be merciful, just as your Father is merciful.

37 Do not judge, and you will not be judged;
and do not condemn, and you will not be condemned;

pardon, and you will be pardoned.

In the spirit of this passage (context) — be merciful to others, treat others the same way we want them to treat us.
just like our heavenly Father who pardons us of our shortcomings and transgressions,
pardon,
and you will be pardoned

Treat others the same way
you want them to treat you.

Do not judge, … and do not condemn

Rather than being critical or judgmental or condemning of others,
sitting in a judge’s seat,
… lets begin by being merciful and forgiving,
just as much as we would like
God  and others to be be merciful and forgiving towards us.

“Do I not destroy my enemies
when I make them my friends?”

— Abraham Lincoln


How should we judge?  Content

Let’s look at the sermon on the mount in Matthew’s account,

Mathew 5:44, 45, 48;  7:1-6 (NASB)
5:44 But I say to you, love your enemies and pray for those who persecute you,
5:45 so that you may be sons of your Father who is in heaven;

for He causes His sun to rise on the evil and the good,
and sends rain on the righteous and the unrighteous.

5:48 Therefore you are to be perfect,
as your heavenly Father is perfect.

7:1  “Do not judge
so that you will not be judged.

7:2 For in the way you judge,
you will be judged;
and by your standard of measure,
it will be measured to you.

Our heavenly Father is fair, objective & just.
Our Father’s love is impartial,
He causes the sun and rain on the righteous and the unrighteous.
As His children, let’s be more like Jesus.

Is our opinion, attitude or action towards our neighbor  fair, objective, & just?
Is it in love?
Are we conscious God is also seeing and weighing our actions, and thoughts as well?

Are we sitting in a seat of a judge in a judgmental, condemning attitude (or action)?

James 4:12 There is only one Lawgiver and Judge,
the One who is able to save and to destroy;
but who are you
who judge your neighbor?

Let’s remember,

12 So then, each of us will give an account of ourselves to God.
13 Therefore let us stop passing judgment on one another.
Instead, make up your mind
not to put any stumbling block or obstacle in the way of a brother or sister.
Romans 14:12, 13 (NIV)

Other translations:
let’s stop criticizing each other  (NOG)
let’s stop condemning each other  (NLT)

Earlier in the sermon on the mount, Jesus said,

Matthew 6:12, 14, 15 (NASB)
6:12 ‘And forgive us our debts,
as we also have forgiven our debtors.

6:14 For if you forgive others for their transgressions,
your heavenly Father will also forgive you.
 

6:15 But if you do not forgive others,
then your Father will not forgive your transgressions.

This verse (6:15) … says plainly
the parable of the unmerciful servant (Matthew 18:21-35)

But if you do not forgive others,
then your Father will not forgive your transgressions

Therefore,

“Do not judge  (others)
so that you will not be judged.   
Matthew 7:1 (NASB)

Therefore, the first step is to forgive the other person.

Moving on in the passage,

Matthew 7:2 For in the way you judge, you will be judged;
and by your standard of measure, it will be measured to you.

Are we open to be judged by our standard of measure ?
Do we measure up to our standard of measure?

Jesus said, “He who is without sin among you,
let him be the first to throw a stone at her.”
John 8:7 (NASB)

In the story in John 8, Jesus directed the religious leaders to look at their own hearts first,
instead of the sin of the woman (caught in adultery).

Be fair and just,
apply our standard of measure …  to ourself .. first.
(contrary to our human nature).
Else, we’ll be having double standards.

Matthew 7:3 Why do you look at the speck
that is in your brother’s eye,
but do not notice the log
that is in your own eye?

notice the log that is in your own eye?
Is there really a log in our own eye?  Let’s check.
Did we notice if there’s one?

Hence, first & foremost, … self-examination of ourselves.
in humility.  Submitting ourselves to the Lord.

23 Search me, God, and know my heart;
    test me and know my anxious thoughts.
24 See if there is any offensive way in me,
    and lead me in the way everlasting.
Psalm 139:23, 24 (NIV)

Why do you look at the speck in your brother’s eye
A speck
of sawdust is extremely tiny, insignificant, difficult to spot,
compared to a log.
Hence, let’s not be petty, … or be a fault-finder,
trying to spot tiny specks, … hairline flaws.

Let’s not be like bickering children (or siblings).

Perhaps our log is seriously impacting our vision,
warping our perception, …. distorting reality,
… from seeing others clearly, … obscuring the good in others.

Maybe our attitudes, biases and prejudices
are obstructing our vision.

Are we slipping into confirmation bias ?
i.e., the tendency to search for, interpret, favor, and recall information
in a way that confirms one’s preexisting beliefs or hypotheses,
while giving disproportionately less consideration to alternative possibilities.
The effect is stronger for emotionally charged issues and for deeply entrenched beliefs. (wikipedia)

Matthew 7:4 Or how can you say to your brother,
‘Let me take the speck out of your eye,’
and behold,
the log is in your own eye?

Imagine, performing a delicate eye operation,
with a log obstructing our vision,
our dear friend would definitely get hurt, … in pain.

Thus, its best we first remove our log
so that we can see clearly first.  (of course!)

By removing our log,
we’ll see clearly that its only
a tiny speck of sawdust
in our brother’s eye.

Perhaps, … we’ve been seeing our log
all this while;
mistaken our brother’s speck
for a log.
Oops! sorry.

While on this, … found an interesting observation,
“People tend to criticize their spouse most loudly in the area
where they themselves have the deepest emotional need.”

– Gary Chapman

On another side note (fyi),  blame shifting.
— Psychological projection is a theory in psychology in
which humans defend themselves against their own unconscious impulses or qualities (both positive and negative)
by denying their existence in themselves
while
attributing them to others.
For example, a person who is habitually rude
may constantly accuse other people of being rude.
It incorporates blame shifting.  According to some research, the projection of one’s unconscious qualities onto others is a common process in everyday life. ( Wikipedia )

Consider,

13 Someone in the crowd said to Him, “Teacher, tell my brother to divide the inheritance with me.”
14 Jesus replied, “Man, who appointed me a judge or an arbiter between you?”

15 Then he said to them, “Watch out! Be on your guard against all kinds of greed; life does not consist in an abundance of possessions.”
Luke 12:13-15 (NIV)

In this pasage,
the man felt cheated by his brother’s greed,
and sought Jesus to intervene, arbitrate so that he can have justice.
Instead Jesus pointed to the real reason for the man’s request,
his own greed    (his log).

Jesus directed each person to look at his/her own heart first,
rather than the faults of his brother/sister.

Or perhaps, …
our log is unresolved issues, unresolved conflicts in our hearts
which we’re avoiding.

Rather than taking time-off to delicately deal with it,
and
 remove the log from our sensitive eye,
… perhaps it makes us feel better
to focus on the specks of others, … being critical,
magnifying their tiny specks
… into huge, insurmountable logs,
and turning a blind eye to our own personal log in our own eye.

Denial?
the other guy is much worse, … right? …’
‘I’m better, … not so bad’
I’m ok, .. right?

Whenever we’re having double standards,
Jesus says,

Matthew 6:5  You hypocrite,

A pot, calling the kettle black, … is being a hypocrite.
Jesus described the Pharisees and scribes
– ” they do not practice what they preach”  Matthew 23:3 (NIV).

Thus, let’s not be hypocritical, hyper-critical, judgmental, condemning.

For by the grace given me I say to every one of you:
Do not think of yourself more highly than you ought,
but rather think of yourself with sober judgment,
in accordance with the faith God has distributed to each of you.

Romans 12:9 (NIV)

Be critical of oneself,
before critique-ing others.

Be constructive in critique;
not critical.

Matthew 7:5 first take the log out of your own eye,
and then
you will see clearly
to take the speck out of your brother’s eye.

 first take the log out of your own eye
i.e. with God’s help, take personal responsibility, self-examination,
take action upon one’s own heart
(eg. attitude, bias, prejudice, unforgiveneness, etc)

then you will see clearly
Sometimes, we may be so fixated on the faults of others,
that we lose sight of our own heart attitude;
justifying ourselves, our rightness in the process.

A huge log obstructs our view to see clearly, and alters our reality.
By removing this log first, … we will see clearly … and discover (surprise, surpise)
… that our brother’s issue is just … only a tiny, insignificant speck,
and we now can see clearly to help if he needs it.

Let’s examine our own hearts,
with God’s help change our hearts,
… before casting any stone.

People without good sense
find fault with their neighbors,

but
those with understanding
keep quiet.

Proverbs 11:12 (NCV)

Paul writing about leadership,
… The Lord gave me this authority
to build you up,

not to tear you down.
1 Corinthians 13:10 (NCV)

Its easy to find fault, criticize, tear others apart,
the challenge is to constructively build others up,
to build you up,

not to tear you down
Paul was not willing to misuse his authority.

Spend time, roll up our sleeves, come alongside
to patiently coach and prayerfully inspire others to improve,
… Jesus did that with His disciples.
He led by example.

“Anyone who consistently makes you feel bad
is not helping you get better.”
— Sam Horn

When you stop expecting people to be perfect,
you can like them for who they are
.”
— Donald Miller

“Criticism, like rain, should be gentle enough to nourish a man’s growth
without destroying his roots.”

– Frank A. Clark

“He has a right to criticize, who has a heart to help.”
– Abraham Lincoln

“A coach is someone who can give correction without causing resentment.”
― John Wooden

“It is much more valuable to look for the strength in others.
You can gain nothing by criticizing their imperfections.”
– Daisaku Ikeda

“I criticize by creation,
not by finding fault.”
― Marcus Tullius Cicero

“I’ve been all over the world and I’ve never seen a statue of a critic.”
― Leonard Bernstein

“Flatter me, and I may not believe you.
Criticize me, and I may not like you.
Ignore me, and I may not forgive you.

Encourage me, and I will not forget you.
Love me and I may be forced to love you.”
– William Arthur Ward

Also, in the sermon on the mount,
Jesus spoke about having a clear eye,
(when he was sharing about worldly wealth)

22 “The eye is the lamp of the body; so then if your eye is clear, your whole body will be full of light.
23 But if your eye is bad, your whole body will be full of darkness. If then the light that is in you is darkness, how great is the darkness!
Matthew 6:22,23 (NASB)

If the log in our eye is extremely huge,
our vision is totally blocked,  i.e. blind.
No light can come through the eye to guide us on our way.

Your word is a lamp to my feet
And a light to my path.
Psalm 119:105 (NASB)

After our own self-examination, self-discovery,
and prayer, ….
Jesus gives us one more thing to consider …


acc

When not to confront, argue ?

Continuing in Matthew 7,

Matthew 7:6 “Do not give what is holy to dogs,
and do not throw your pearls before swine,
or they will trample them under their feet,
and turn and tear you to pieces.

Let’s look at 2 other scriptures about dogs and pigs 🙂

1Like a dog that returns to its vomit
Is a fool who repeats his folly.
12 Do you see a man wise in his own eyes?
There is more hope for a fool than for him.
Proverbs 26:11, 12 (NASB)

A dog is like one who keeps repeating to his habits,
as Peter wrote,

22 It has happened to them according to the true proverb,
“A dog returns to its own vomit,” and,
“A sow, after washing, returns to wallowing in the mire.”
2 Peter 2:22 (NASB)

A pig is like one who loves getting back to her original state in the mud.
(not sure why Peter used the feminine noun for pig in the original Greek here 🙂 )

Dogs and pigs, are liken to folks who don’t want to change … (at all)

Fools do not want to understand anything.
They only want to tell others what they think.
they only want to air their own opinions

Proverbs 18:2 (NCV, NLT)

Hence, … let’s not waste our breath.

Do not reprove the arrogant, lest they hate you;
reprove the wise, and they will love you.
Proverbs 9:8 (NABRE)

Therefore, assess their openness to fair critique,
& receptiveness to improve for the better.

Else, … the pig will trample our good intentions, kind thoughts or advice
worse still, the dog will  tear us to pieces

Even worse still,
we may be so provoked and agitated in our discussion,
that we may be tempted to respond back
like a pig and dog too!!

Galatians 5:14, 15 (NLT, NOG)
14 For the whole law can be summed up in this one command: “Love your neighbor as yourself.”
15 But if you are always biting and devouring one another,
watch out!
Beware of destroying one another.

But if you criticize and attack each other,
be careful that you don’t destroy each other.

Perhaps in such a situation, its better to pray,
hold our peace, live peaceably,
let God work in our lives and theirs.

Wait for an opportune time
when perhaps,
they’re more receptive and open-minded
before opening our big mouth 🙂 .

“Never wrestle with pigs.
You both get dirty
and the pig likes it.”
― George Bernard Shaw

On the flip side,
how open are we, ourselves to other’s critique,
or to a lesser extent …
how sensitive are we to harmless jokes, spoken in jest about us?

Let the righteous one strike me
— it is an act of faithful love;
let him rebuke me
— it is oil for my head;
let me not refuse it. ..
Psalm 141:5 (HCSB)

Someone once wisely said,
With two eyes and two ears
and one month,
try to observe and listen
4 times as much as you speak.

Blessed are the peacemakers,
the goal is to de-escalate tension,
& not escalate into conflict

Some helpful proverbs to prayerfully consider:

17:14 Starting a quarrel is like a leak in a dam,
so stop it before a fight breaks out.

26:20 Without wood, a fire will go out,
    and without gossip, quarreling will stop.

26:21 Just as charcoal and wood keep a fire going,
    a quarrelsome person keeps an argument going.

20:3 It is to one’s honor to avoid strife,
but every fool is quick to quarrel.

20:3 Avoiding a quarrel is honorable.
    After all, any stubborn fool can start a fight.
Proverbs 17:14,  26:20, 21 (NCV),  20:3 (NIV, NOG)

A final ‘doggy’ proverb 🙂 ,

Like one who grabs a stray dog by the ears
is someone
who rushes into a quarrel not their own.

Proverbs 26:17 (NIV)

and the wisdom of holding our peace.

Even fools are thought wise when they keep silent;
with their mouths shut, they seem intelligent.
Proverbs 17:28 (NLT)


On another occasion, Jesus said,

57 “And why do you not even on your own initiative
judge what is right?

58 For while you are going with your opponent to appear before the magistrate,
on your way there make an effort to settle with him,
so that he may not drag you before the judge, and the judge turn you over to the officer, and the officer throw you into prison. 59 I say to you, you will not get out of there until you have paid the very last cent.”
Luke 12:57-59 (NASB)

15 “If your brother sins,
go and show him his fault in private;
if he listens to you, you have won your brother.

Matthew 18:15 (NASB)

Judge what is right, … be reasonable,
don’t let our emotions get the better of us,
or our need to ‘win at all cost‘ control us,
… attempt to make an effort to listen, negotiate,
amicably mediate,  settle with him in private,
explore win-win compromise options.

The intelligent person restrains his words,
and one who keeps a cool head
is a man of understanding.

Proverbs 17:27 (HCSB)


Further thoughts on Confronting

31 Treat others the same way
you want them to treat you.

Luke 6:31 (NASB)

Let’s be honest, none of us like to be confronted, … or confronted in front of others,
… worse still, if there’s little evidence,
or based on some suspicion, intuition, or heresay.
In such situations, … we feel judged, … unfairly judged, .. (offended?)
… and most of us go into defensive, damage-control mode.

A brother who has been insulted
is harder to win back than a walled city,

and arguments separate people
like the barred gates of a palace.

Proverbs 18:19 (NCV)

Let’s keep this in mind, before confronting others,
we’re all emotional humans

Through patience a ruler can be persuaded,
    and a gentle tongue can break a bone.
Proverbs 25:15 (NIV)

Review what we’re trying to achieve.  Is it a speck or log?
Can what we desire, be reasonably achieved by our approach?
Have we considered other ways to approach, to communicate?
Example:  Nathan used a parable to lead David (2 Samuel 12).

1 Timothy 5: 19 (NASB)
19 
Do not receive an accusation against an elder
except on the basis of two or three witnesses.

Is this a consistent, repeated behavior, … a habit ?

Be fair, be factual, evidence-based data,  first-hand evidence,
be objective,
at least 2 or 3, or more occasions.
None of us are perfect, including me,
… give folks 2 or 3 … or even more graces (depending on the severity of impact of the action),
In reviewing the facts, be careful of confirmation bias.

Proverbs 18:17 (HCSB)
The first to state his case seems right
until another comes and cross-examines him.

Always double check the facts.
Patiently, carefully, impartially hear both sides, … not just one-side.
Assume innocence first.

Be quick to clarify, … ask, … listen to their story first-hand,
hear them out … in a non-business, non-interrogative manner.
Be objective, restrain from being quick to arrive at pre-conceived conclusions.

If no factual evidence, … no case, .. conclusion was wrong/false.

If its grevious, harmful, scandalous,
hurting others, creating division, confusion,
 escalate quickly to relevant authority to avoid further damage.

Repeating two verses quoted earlier,

They claim to know God,
but by their actions they deny him. ..

Titus 1:16 (NIV)

You will know them by their fruits.
Grapes are not gathered from thorn bushes nor figs from thistles,
are they?

Matthew 7:16 (NASB)

by their actions they deny him
You will know them by their fruits

None of us can read another person’s mind,
hence we can only observe & assess outward actions,
and long-term results, impact/outcomes (fruit).

No one can accurately  predict, imagine or assume
the intentions
behind the actions of another person.

Let’s don’t read too much into the situations we see.

Thus, we judge our intentions (the ‘why?’)
and
others only by their actions and the impact/outcomes, fruit (the ‘what?’).

What you have seen with your eyes
     do not bring hastily to court,
for what will you do in the end
    if your neighbor puts you to shame?

Don’t jump to conclusions
—there may be a perfectly good explanation for what you just saw
Proverbs 25:8 (NIV, MSG)

Find out more information, before hastily jumping to a any conclusion.
As the saying goes, don’t read a book by its cover.

Galatians 6:1-3 (NASB)
Brethren, even if anyone is caught in any trespass,
you who are spiritual,
restore such a one
in a spirit of gentleness;

each one looking to yourself, so that you too will not be tempted.
Bear one another’s burdens,
and thereby fulfill the law of Christ.
For if anyone thinks he is something when he is nothing, he deceives himself.

in a spirit of gentleness (πρᾳότης praiótēs)
gentleness, by implication, humility:- meekness (Strong)

In a spirit of restoration and reconcilation,
restore others gently, humbly, in love
back to the open arms of our heavenly Father.

2 Corinthians 5:18, 19 (NASB)
18 
Now all these things are from God,
who reconciled us to Himself through Christ
and gave us the ministry of reconciliation,

19 namely, that God was in Christ reconciling the world to Himself,
not counting their trespasses against them, and He has committed to us the word of reconciliation.

God has given us the ministry of reconciliation.

Paul summarises this section very well,

23 But refuse foolish and ignorant speculations,
knowing that they produce quarrels.

24 The Lord’s bond-servant must not be quarrelsome,
but be kind to all, able to teach,
patient when wronged,

25 with gentleness correcting those who are in opposition,
if perhaps God may grant them repentance
leading to the knowledge of the truth,

26 and they may come to their senses and escape from the snare of the devil, having been held captive by him to do his will.
2 Timothy 2:23-26 (NASB)


Sometimes, we need to put ourselves in the other person’s shoes,
appreciate their circumstances,
before giving our opinions  (so that, its a fair & just appraisal),

Don’t criticize them;
they are just what we would be
under similar circumstances.”

— Abraham Lincoln

Spend a day, … and walk in their shoes.


Conclusion

“He who is without sin among you,
let him be the first to throw a stone at her.”

To be just and fair,
Jesus always directs us to examine our own hearts first,
and get ourselves right with God.

Observing the many flaws of others,
reminds us to pray the tax collector’s prayer,
‘God, be merciful to me, the sinner!’

Jesus explained the second command,
You shall love your neighbor as yourself,”
… to also include our enemies.

Most of us will not murder our enemies,
however, … if we fight back by slander, negative criticism, find fault, speak evil,
(with an intention to hurt, .. being disrespectful, dishonoring of others)
then, we’ll be judged as not obeying the royal law  to love our neighbor as ourself.

Therefore,

Give to everyone what you owe them: If you owe taxes, pay taxes; if revenue, then revenue;
if respect, then respect;
if honor, then honor.
Let no debt remain outstanding,
except the continuing debt to love one another,
for whoever loves others has fulfilled the law.
Romans 13:7,8 (NIV)

Give to everyone respect, honor, … love;
unconditional, undeserving agape love like Jesus loving us.
(interestingly Paul likens it to an unpaid debt of love we owe to others)

 “In essentials, unity;
in non-essentials, liberty;
in all things, charity.”
— Augustine of Hippo

In everything, therefore,
treat
 (respect, honor, love)  people
the same way
you want them
to treat
(love, honor, respect) you

In an attitude of mutual submission,
in love and in truth … mutual accountability,
Submit to one another out of reverence for Christ.
Ephesians 5:17 (NIV)
Examine the messenger and the message in the light of God’s word.

If required, in a spirit of restoration and reconcilation,
restore others gently, humbly, in love
back to the loving arms of our heavenly Father.


A final note for those of us
who have been assailed by the opinions and criticisms of others,

“It is not the critic who counts:
not the man who points out how the strong man stumbles
or where the doer of deeds could have done better.

The credit belongs to the man who is actually in the arena,
whose face is marred by dust and sweat and blood, who strives valiantly,
who errs and comes up short again and again,
because there is no effort without error or shortcoming,
but who knows
the great enthusiasms,
the great devotions,
who spends himself for a worthy cause;

who, at the best,
knows, in the end,
the triumph of high achievement
,

and who, at the worst,
if he fails, at least
he fails while daring greatly,

so that his place shall never be
with those cold and timid souls who knew neither victory nor defeat.”

— Theodore Roosevelt


Further reading — how to disagree well?

Paul Graham, How to Disagree

Friedrich Glasl’s model of conflict escalation


Daily Rice | Ministry

by 林弟兄, bro Lim
January 5, 2017
laymanointing.wordpress.com

Copyright © 林弟兄 bro Lim, Laymanointing, 2014-2017 – All Rights Reserved
Creative Commons License


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