I had originally considered calling this either “Lay Down Your Judgment” or “Lay Down Your Grudges.” Either would have worked, and I’ll hit on them here. But I think this new title captures both those ideas, and something more. Plus, it builds on some of the other ideas already expressed on past Fridays—and again, something more.
My buddy Tim has an amusing-truth kind of song called “I Hate to Be Judgmental.” Among its lines, which begin at “I hate to be judgmental, but some people make me sick,” are these: I hate to be judgmental, but there’s nothing else to do / Everybody’s judging me—why shouldn’t I judge you?
And it’s true; this judgment thing is an endless cycle. Getting worked up over someone else’s shortcomings is a pretty good time-killer that helps us feel better about ourselves.
And it’s real easy to extend this attitude to other Christians. I mean, come on, we… that is, um, I mean, they… should know better. They’re Christians, right? There’s certainly some truth to that. But let’s remember, especially in a developing book dedicated to this premise, that we’re all still learning how to properly lay down our lives at Jesus’ feet.
So let’s backtrack to something more positive before extending judgment. If Jesus is indeed the greatest thing, indeed the greatest person, in my life, shouldn’t that be true about every Christian—or for that matter, potential Christian—I meet as well? Shouldn’t I be looking for that movement of the Spirit in the other person, no matter (or especially given) what sin they, with God’s help, need to deal with in their lives?
God forgives [fill in the blank] just as He forgives me.
When we refuse to forgive, we keep others in bondage. The Bible says it, “Truly I tell you, whatever you bind on earth will be bound in heaven, and whatever you loose on earth will be loosed in heaven” (Matt. 18: 19). Forgiveness, or the lack thereof, has that kind of power. By believing ourselves to be people who need—nay, deserve—to be repaid for the wrongs done to us, we are, in a very real sense, spiritual slaveowners. We accuse others of evil, then, instead of freeing them from it, leave them trapped in it. Are those the kind of people we want to be?
And yet, we all do it. I certainly do. And at the same time, we keep someone else locked up as well—us. Slaves still need to be fed, you know, no matter how much contempt we have for them. And thus, we must always attend to those we keep in bondage to our unforgiveness. And we await in fear the day they rise up in rebellion against us.