Recently I experienced a moment that has been all to familiar during the course of my ministry and service to God. It is something that everyone deals with. No matter where you are in your faith and walk with Jesus, this sin will rear its ugly head and wreak havoc on you and those around you.
Why is this sin of judgement so besetting? How can it find its way in to the hearts and actions of even the most devout and God fearing of Christ followers? In my recent experience with this sin, God revealed to me a truth that I believe is one of the biggest, albeit primary, causes of this sin taking root in our lives.
The Lies of the Enemy
It is no secret that our enemy, the Devil, and his legions of fallen angels are the masters of confusion, chaos, and lies. Jesus calls the Devil “the Father of Lies” (John 8:44). He is a deceiver and it should be no surprise to us when we discover that we are deceived into thinking that our precieved to be Godly thoughts and actions turn out to be straight from the pits of Hell.
I want to be careful here. I believe that we often give the Devil a little to much credit when it comes to our sin. To say, “The Devil made me do it” is only an excuse to redirect responsibility on to a third-party. The whispers of our enemy are just that; whispers. We must take responsibility for how we allow those whispers to seep into our thoughts and actions.
That being said, I think one of the Devil’s biggest weapons against us is to deceive us by masking his evil schemes with the things of God. Let me put it another way. The Devil loves to take the holy things of God and twist them into unholy abominations.
“The beginning of wisdom is to fear the LORD, and acknowledging the Holy One is understanding.”(Proverbs 9:10)
One of the prayers I pray most often is that God would pour out over me in abundance the gifts of wisdom. God urges us to ask for it in James 1:5. There is nothing wrong in pursuing this gift. However, in my experience, those that God has blessed with wisdom often are the most critical people I have ever met.
Under the guise of wisdom, pride will prompt a person to think that they have a right to pick apart anything and everything under the sun. As does all sin, a critical spirit begins in the heart of a person. Unfortunately, I have allowed this to play out in my life in more than one occasion. Criticism is like a virus that spreads and reproduces itself in the people that it affects. One person is critical of another and then those people become critical. It is a cycle of sin that has destroyed countless lives.
I almost completely walked away from the ministry as a result of living under the bondage of extremely critical people. I eventually succumbed to the virus and allowed it to affect my own actions. Don’t hear what I am not saying. It is no one’s fault but mine. My own pride and arrogance ate up the power and self-righteousness that criticism promotes. It places you above the rest and sets you up as one who has been given the right to correct and fix the errors of others. When I realized the error of my ways, God gave me eyes to see the damage that I had done.
When used properly, wisdom is a gift that God uses through us to build up and uplift those around us. Wisdom brings encouragement, hope, and understanding to those that are confused, lost, and ignorant. Is this not the outcome you experience when you read Proverbs? Let us follow in the footsteps of the wisest people to ever walk the Earth, Solomon and Jesus. Let us use God’s gift of wisdom for the edification of the church and the redemption of the lost.
“Give, and it will be given to you: A good measure, pressed down, shaken together, running over, will be poured into your lap. For the measure you use will be the measure you receive.” (Luke 6:38)
Like wisdom, discernment is often twisted into sin as a result of our own pride and selfishness. God pours out His gift of discerment on people and we allow it to manifest in the form of judgement. The verse above is often referenced in relation to our tithes and offerings, but if you read the verse in context of the previous verse, you will see that Jesus is talking about judgement. It is very important for us to realize that Jesus is telling us that in the same measure we judge others, we will also be judged. That is a promise of God that you can take to the bank.
I have wielded the weapon of judgement under the guise of discernment more than I would like to admit and as the verse above promises, I have been judged very harshly in return. No one likes to be judged, but for some reason we all excuse away our judgements on others. This is typical for us as human beings. We excuse away our own sins and demand retribution for the sins of others. This act in and of itself is judgement at its worst and the reason why Jesus says in the same section on judgement, “Forgive and you will be forgiven.” Coincidence? I think not!
The Foundation We Build On
Both wisdom and discerment begins with God. He is the source of all wisdom and it is His Spirit that gives us discerment in this world. God is our foundation in which we build our lives on and Jesus is the ruler by which we measure our lives. At no point should the gifts of God tear down or cause division. If these are the outcomes when you use your gifts, then there is something wrong. You have allowed the gifts of God to be corrupted by the sin of self and the schemes of the Devil.
I feel the need to address a common misconception here. The way Jesus treated the religious leaders of His time is not our ticket to doing the same to others. Contrast Jesus’ actions towards the religious leaders with His actions towards everyone else. You will see that Jesus was only harsh with those who had closed their hearts off to the Son of God. These leaders were reaping the promise of receiving the same judgement by which they judged. Only Jesus has the authority to judge in this matter. Our command is to stand in love.
It’s Not to Late
The good news is that we serve a God of second, third, and fourth chances. If you find yourself caught up in these sins, hope and redemption is only a prayer away. God has given us the process of repentance so that when we realize our sins, we can have a fresh start. Don’t let the enemy chain you to this sin (Galatians 5:1). Jesus has set you free (John 8:36) from the bondage of sin, so live in that freedom today and make amends with those that you have hurt. That’s The Truth!