I’ve been thinking quite a bit about the difference between judging versus holding a person accountable. It seems to be a fine line, sometimes. I think the difference can be summed up in one question. What is our motive? Are we pointing out the “speck” in their eye disregarding the log in our own? Do we point out the concerns from a place of humility or a place of “I am so much better than you” pride? Is our desire to help the individual overcome and encourage them to choose healthier/wiser options? Does it stem from a deep and genuine concern over the potential consequences of someone’s poor choices/behavior? These are the questions rolling around in my brain lately.
I think about things like a friend in an abusive relationship and we ask “Why are you still with him/her? That’s not judging…that’s genuine concern for your friend’s safety and well being.
I think about pastors in recent news where a long history of sexual harassment has surfaced or infidelity has occurred and the congregation and church leadership question whether or not the pastor is fit to stay in his current role. Most don’t see this as judging (as long as it’s done with right motives). It’s holding the leader accountable. We’d be appalled if the church leadership turned a blind eye (and didn’t address the issue) simply because the pastor knew how to preach a real good sermon on Sundays or had shared, over the years, really valuable/helpful truths on how to do life with Christ. Instead, we would hope the “fall” would lead the pastor to repent, acknowledge their need for help, seek forgiveness, and take time for healing and restoration. We would hope those making the decisions would not compartmentalize or rationalize away the poor conduct.
I think about how important it is to take responsibility for our own faith journeys and discover the “I am the way, the truth and the life” Savior for ourselves…personally. No one can “come to Jesus” for us. No one can “work out our salvation with fear and trembling” for us. I think about how influential my mom was to leading me to faith in Christ. As a young girl, she was my rock and I looked to her to understand the things of faith and to hold me accountable. However, I learned quickly how riding on the coattails of someone else’s faith and understanding will only carry you so far. At 18, when she passed away, I discovered I had no clue (and really no desire) to “stand firm in the faith” without her in my life. I had to learn (through mistakes, wrong turns and serious failures) how desperately the Savior she had was the Savior I needed too. No one could be my unshakeable Rock accept for Him. This is an ongoing lesson I must continue to learn and relearn every day of my life.
I am thankful for accounts in scripture of people like Nicodemus, a Pharisee, who came to Jesus one night “working out his salvation with fear and trembling” not settling for what his peers and what authority figures were telling him he should believe. Instead, he sought out Jesus. He went looking for the truth.
I’m thankful we live in a nation where we have the freedom to question those in authority. I am thankful for the freedom to peacefully protest. I am thankful for those who fought and even died for our right to speak out and disagree. There are places in this world where speaking out against or questioning the motives of authority figures could lead to imprisonment or even execution.
I am thankful that we have a Savior who is sovereign over seasons where we are left thoroughly confused. I am thankful for examples like Joseph who could look at his brothers and say with no ill will “what you intended for harm God used it for good!” I am thankful for the reminder that even Judas’ betrayal of Jesus was used to bring about ultimate victory. I need to remember His sovereignty has the final say when the world around me seems to be spinning out of control.