Judging The Right Way

Listen to the podcast of this post by clicking on the player below, and you can also subscribe on AppleSpotify, or Audible. 

I have probably heard this verse quoted more by non-Christians than any other verse: “Do not judge, or you too will be judged” (Matthew 7:1). 

Does Jesus mean that we can never point out to anyone else an area of concern? No, because Jesus Himself did this as well as nearly every epistle writer of the New Testament. What it does mean is that confrontation needs to be truly corrective and never condemning. 

Correcting means that I am never serving as the judge and jury. But it does mean that I can lovingly help someone before they have to stand before God on Judgment Day. Jesus said that if I am a mean, self-serving judge of others, I can expect to receive that same treatment (v. 2). 

Instead, I need to first recognize that what I may see in another person may only be apparent to me because I am afflicted with the same thing. So my first response when I see “a speck” in someone else’s eye is to ask the Holy Spirit to show me a possible “plank” in my own eye. Only after I have dealt with this through repentance and making appropriate changes, will I have the necessary empathy and gentleness to help my brother or sister deal with their own eye speck (vv. 3-4). 

Jesus said that trying to get someone else to repent of something that still exists in my own life is being a hypocrite. It’s playing a role that isn’t me. So Jesus says “first” deal with my own sin, “then” I may help a brother or sister (v. 5). 

Notice that I have been very careful to use the phrase “brother and sister.” I believe that Christians should deal with fellow Christians, but we shouldn’t try to bring correction to those who don’t come from the same biblical paradigm that we have. In legal terms, I may say that we have no standing, or that non-Christians are out of my jurisdiction. 

One final thought. I think I need to treat a concern that another person brings to me in a very similar fashion as I would treat an eye speck someone else. Perhaps God sent them to me, so I need to ask the Holy Spirit to show me any “plank” that may be in my eye, even if it has been brought to my attention through a judgmental person. It is very God-honoring for me to give that person the benefit of the doubt by saying that they cared enough for my well-being that they would be willing to point something out to me. 

Correction is an important aspect of Christian maturity. But we need to make sure we do it in a Christlike way.

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I Can’t, God Can

Listen to the podcast of this post by clicking on the player below, and you can also subscribe on AppleSpotify, or Audible. 

Lord, I know that people’s lives are not their own; it is not for them to direct their steps (Jeremiah 10:23 NIV).

I didn’t create my life—You did!

So “people do not control their own destiny” (NET)—You do!

“Mere mortals can’t run their own lives” (MSG)—You can!

“The way of man is not in himself” (NKJV)—it’s in You!

Discipline me, Lord, but only in due measure—not in Your anger, or You will reduce me to nothing (Jeremiah 10:24 NIV).

You can correct me “with justice” (NKJV)—I can’t!

You know how to “be gentle” (NLT)—I don’t!

God, You correct “as You see best” (MSG)—I can’t!

I’d say it’s pretty clear that there is only One who can lead me in the way I should go. So my prayer should always be: Heavenly Father, You are Sovereign, You are Love, and I trust You completely to guide me into paths of righteousness for Your name’s sake, as only You know how. Holy Spirit, help me to trust You in this journey. In Jesus’ name, amen.

I used only two verses to write this post, but I read them in multiple translations. This is another great Bible study tool that any of us can use. If you would like to read more about the various translations of the Bible and how to access them, please check out this post. 

►► Would you please prayerfully consider supporting this ministry? My Patreon supporters get behind-the-scenes access to exclusive materials. ◀︎◀︎

Proper Correction

…to the church of the Thessalonians (2 Thessalonians 1:1). 

This short letter from the apostle Paul to the church in Thessalonica is a masterpiece on how to correctly correct fellow Christian brothers and sisters. 

The entire letter follows this pattern: 3 Cs surrounded by prayer—

  1. Compliment
  2. Prayer
  3. Clarify
  4. Prayer
  5. Correct
  6. Prayer

(And then repeat, if necessary.) 

Compliment and encouragement—“We are bound to thank God always for you…because your faith grows exceedingly” (1:3). Paul complimented their love for each other, their patience and endurance in persecution, and their future glorification. He encouraged them that Jesus IS coming, and He will deal with their persecutors and take the righteous into glory with Him (1:3-10). 

Prayer—And then he prays for them to be equipped to endure to the end and finish well (1:11-12). 

Clarify misunderstandings—“Let no one deceive you by any means” (2:3). Paul reminds them of what he taught them about the end times and the Second Coming of Christ, clarifying that watchful Christians will by no means miss out on the signs (2:1-12). 

Prayer—Paul again praises their acceptance of the gospel and launches into another prayer for them to finish well (2:13-3:5). 

Correct errors of understanding—“But we command you” (3:6). There were those who were departing from the faith, growing slack in their work ethic, being disorderly, and meddling as busybodies. Paul said, “We command and exhort through our Lord Jesus Christ” that you knock it off! He even told the church to “not keep company” with such people (3:6-15). 

Prayer—Finally, Paul closes with a prayer for God’s peace to be with his brothers and sisters (3:16-18). 

This is such a masterful pattern for all of us in church ministry to follow! 

If you are in a leadership role, I hope your ongoing prayer would be the same as mine: “Holy Spirit, in all my interactions with my fellow saints, remind me of this godly, practical plan for confrontation, and help me to live it out for God’s glory. In Jesus’ name, amen.” 

Saturday In The Proverbs—Relationship Builders And Killers (Proverbs 27)

[Each chapter in the Book of Proverbs contains thoughts that fit into a theme; they are not just random thoughts gathered together. In this “Saturday In The Proverbs” series, I will share a theme that I see in each chapter. But the cool thing about God’s Word is that you may see an entirely different theme. That’s great! If you do, I would love for you to share it in the comments below.]

Do not boast… (Proverbs 27:1).

This proverbs has some noteworthy relationship builders and relationship killers. 

Relationship Builders

  • Humility (v. 2) 
  • Confronting in love (vv. 5a, 6a)
  • Contentment (v. 7)
  • Minding your own business (v. 8)
  • Giving good advice (v. 9)
  • Investing in family friendships (v. 10)
  • Exercising wisdom (v. 11)
  • Using foresight (v. 12a)
  • Investing in yourself so that you can invest in others (v. 17)
  • Serving others (v. 18)
  • Honest self-assessment (v. 19)
  • Good work ethic (vv. 23-27) 

Relationship Killers

  • Boasting (vv. 1, 2)
  • Provoking a foolish argument (v. 3)
  • Jealousy (v. 4)
  • Unexpressed love (v. 5b)
  • Insincere flattery (vv. 6b, 14)
  • Ignoring the signs of impending trouble (v. 12b)
  • Cosigning a loan (v. 13)
  • Arguing (vv. 15, 16)
  • Envy (v. 20)
  • Not handling praise humbly (v. 21) 
  • Not listening to correction (v. 22)

To keep our relationships strong and vibrant, let’s kill the killers and build the builders! 

Saturday In The Proverbs—God Gets The Final Say (Proverbs 21)

[Each chapter in the Book of Proverbs contains thoughts that fit into a theme; they are not just random thoughts gathered together. In this “Saturday In The Proverbs” series, I will share a theme that I see in each chapter. But the cool thing about God’s Word is that you may see an entirely different theme. That’s great! If you do, I would love for you to share it in the comments below.]

The king’s heart is in the hand of the Lord, like the rivers of water; He turns it wherever He wishes (Proverbs 21:1).

 

I may be in charge of something, but I am never in complete control. God has the final say in my…

  • …affections (vv. 1, 17, 24)
  • …motives (vv. 2, 6, 10, 13, 14, 22, 27)
  • …righteousness (vv. 3, 4, 7, 8, 12, 15, 16, 18, 21, 29)
  • …plans (vv. 5, 31)
  • …household management (vv. 9, 19)
  • …attitude toward correction (v. 11)
  • …stewardship (v. 20)
  • …words (vv. 23, 28)
  • …work ethic (vv. 25, 26)

“There is no wisdom or understanding or counsel against the Lord” (v. 30). God always has the final say.

Saturday In The Proverbs—Setting Myself Up For Failure (Proverbs 20)

[Each chapter in the Book of Proverbs contains thoughts that fit into a theme; they are not just random thoughts gathered together. In this “Saturday In The Proverbs” series, I will share a theme that I see in each chapter. But the cool thing about God’s Word is that you may see an entirely different theme. That’s great! If you do, I would love for you to share it in the comments below.]

Wine is a mock, strong drink is a brawler, and whoever is led astray by it is not wise (Proverbs 20:1).

This collection of proverbs warns against things that impair a person’s judgment, or things that set us up for failure. Things like…

  • intemperance (v. 1)
  • making leaders angry (vv. 2, 8, 26)
  • starting petty quarrels (v. 3)
  • laziness (vv. 4, 13)
  • shallow thinking (vv. 5, 12, 25)
  • unfaithfulness or a lack of integrity (vv. 6, 7, 11, 27)
  • unconfessed sin (vv. 9, 24)
  • duplicity or favoritism (vv. 10, 14, 17, 23)
  • not valuing wisdom (vv. 15, 18. 25)
  • risky business deals (vv. 16, 25)
  • gossiping (v. 19)
  • dishonoring your parents (vv. 20, 21)
  • holding a grudge (v. 22)
  • unkindness or dishonesty (v. 28)
  • not valuing life (v. 29)
  • not allowing anyone to correct you (v. 30)

Now that you know these items that set you up for failure, ask the Holy Spirit to help you root any of these out of your life before failure happens to you! 

Saturday In The Proverbs—How Does That Taste? (Proverbs 12)

[Each chapter in the Book of Proverbs contains thoughts that fit into a theme; they are not just random thoughts gathered together. In this “Saturday In The Proverbs” series, I will share a theme that I see in each chapter. But the cool thing about God’s Word is that you may see an entirely different theme. That’s great! If you do, I would love for you to share it in the comments below.]

Whoever loves instruction loves knowledge, but he who hates correction is stupid (Proverbs 12:1).

What comes from our lips is either a healthy feast or it is nauseating junk food. But what comes from our lips is based on what we put in—garbage in, garbage out.

The only way to fix this is by gaining godly knowledge and listening to godly correction.

Here is a side-by-side comparison of healthy food and junk food that Solomon lists for us in Proverbs 12:

(click on the image to see a larger view or click here to download a PDF → Proverbs 12 – how does that taste)

Saturday In The Proverbs—How To Spot Folly (Proverbs 9)

[Each chapter in the Book of Proverbs contains thoughts that fit into a theme; they are not just random thoughts gathered together. In this “Saturday In The Proverbs” series, I will share a theme that I see in each chapter. But the cool thing about God’s Word is that you may see an entirely different theme. That’s great! If you do, I would love for you to share it in the comments below.]

“Whoever is simple, let him turn in here…” (Proverbs 9:4, 16).

Both Wisdom and Folly call out to the same thing to people who are lacking understanding: “Come into my house!” So how do you tell the difference?

Simply put—Wisdom raises the bar, and Folly lowers it. Wisdom will make you work; Folly cuts corners.

Wisdom works hard to prepare for her guests. She then asks them to:

  • eat what she prepared
  • forsake their foolishness
  • submit to correction
  • learn new things
  • fear God

Folly, on the other hand, is simply loud. She prepares nothing. Instead:

  • she offers stolen goods
  • she justifies breaking the rules
  • she never corrects nor instructs
  • she has no fear of God
  • she simply looks for those who will go along with her

But only Wisdom can give knowledge of God, understanding of His ways, multiplied days, long life, and life-enhancing wisdom. Folly can give nothing but empty words and dead-ends.

Be careful of which hostess is asking you to “come into my house.”

Saturday In The Proverbs—Don’t Do This … But Do This (Proverbs 3)

[Each chapter in the Book of Proverbs contains thoughts that fit into a theme; they are not just random thoughts gathered together. In this “Saturday In The Proverbs” series, I will share a theme that I see in each chapter. But the cool thing about God’s Word is that you may see an entirely different theme. That’s great! If you do, I would love for you to share it in the comments below.]

My son, do not … but … (Proverbs 3:1).

This chapter of Proverbs is filled with these contrasts—don’t do this, but do this instead—and then Solomon shared the blessings that follow when we do the right thing. 

Don’t forget God’s Word BUT keep it in your heart. Blessing—long life and peaceful days. 

Don’t lose sight of mercy and truth BUT find ways to remind yourself. Blessing—favor with God and man.

Don’t lean on your own understanding BUT lean on God’s wisdom. Blessing—God’s direction.

Don’t become enamored with yourself BUT fear God and avoid evil. Blessing—health and strength.

Don’t hoard God’s gifts to you BUT honor God with your possessions. Blessing—overflowing blessings.

Don’t despise God’s correction BUT learn from it. Blessing—wisdom, understanding, happiness.

Don’t forsake God’s wisdom BUT keep it squarely in front of your eyes. Blessing—grace, safety, security, sweet sleep, no fear, confidence.

Don’t withhold good from your neighbor BUT love your neighbor. Blessing—God’s blessing in your home.

Bottom line: Don’t do it your way, but do it God’s way!

5 Differences Between Wisdom And Folly

Parallels between law and wisdomIn Proverbs 9, Wisdom and Folly are both personified as women. And both of them call out the same thing to their would-be followers: “Let all who are simple come in here!” (vv. 4, 16). They both claim to have ‘the goods’ for those searching for truth, but here are five things that separate them.

  1. Wisdom has built her own house (v. 1); but Folly merely occupies someone else’s house (v. 14).
  2. Wisdom has like-minded “maids” who support her (v. 3); but Folly has no supporters.
  3. Wisdom serves what she has prepared herself (vv. 2, 5); but Folly steals from others because she has nothing original to offer (v. 17).
  4. Wisdom corrects, and that correction leads to deeper knowledge (vv. 8-10); but Folly lets people do whatever they wish, which only leads to deeper suffering (v. 13).
  5. Wisdom offers life (vv. 6, 11), insight (v. 9), the fear of God (v. 10), and rewards (v. 12); but Folly only offers suffering (v. 12) and death (v. 18).

How ironic that some people respond to Folly’s call, “Let all who are simple come in here,” and yet they act like they know it all already, not wanting to learn anything new.

Bottom line: If you are willing to learn, Wisdom has much to teach you. But if you know it all already, best to just hang out with Folly.

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