I was standing in line at the grocery store today and the man behind me asked what happened to the lady who was bagging groceries. I laughed and said it always seems to happen to me. I get in the line I see a grocery bagger in and sure enough, when it’s my turn, they disappear. Well he didn’t find it as humorous as I did and went on to complain how ridiculous it was. However, he used a lot of expletives as he shared his opinion with me. I just smiled and reached down to get my milk from the bottom of the cart and then he bent down and got the second one for me. For the next few seconds, we had idle chit chat and of course I thanked him for getting my milk for me.
For some reason this insignificant incident sparked a thought in me. What if I had said to him, “Um, sir, could you please not use that kind of language around me? I find it, well, a bit offensive.” Do you think he would have bent down and grabbed my other milk for me? Do you think we could have continued to have friendly chit chat? In fact, I don’t know for sure but I would bet that by the time it was his turn and I was long gone, he had calmed down…simply because I had engaged in a friendly exchange with him. Do you know that your simple acts of kindness and friendly demeanor can really change a situation?
Now compare that to this. My daughter has a Christian friend who attends the same school as her. At one time this friend would go around correcting other students about their language. She would tell them how wrong they were to be using that language. After some time, this friend began to really turn off other children. They not only stopped listening to her but they stopped being her friend. What kind of a difference do you think she is going to make as a believer when no one will even talk to her?
I don’t want to get hung up on the whole issue of cursing. That really isn’t what this is about, although those were the two best examples I had. It extends beyond that to other things we see people in the world doing—smoking, living with someone they aren’t married to, drinking and the list could go on. Is it our job to go around pointing out the sins of others?
If you think it is, I want to challenge you on that. You see, one of the things I have tried very hard to teach my children is that we are not to judge others. People who don’t know Jesus are going to sin! It really shouldn’t come as a surprise when we see sinners sinning. They are only doing what they know to do. If they don’t know Jesus, how can we possibly expect otherwise from them? And if we want them to know Jesus, in most cases the way to do that is not to point out everything they are doing wrong.
The greatest example of this that my children have seen has been with our foster care children and their mother. In the beginning I battled with a lot of judgmental thoughts toward the children’s mom. I didn’t want to see her through my judgmental eyes because I knew it would keep me from seeing her through the eyes of Jesus. So I did ask for prayer from others about that. Through the course of time, I was able to see her in a new way. I was able to see that not only was she in need of a Savior but that I very well could have been in her situation if I had never come to know the Lord.
What ended up happening, I never would have imagined could…we started to talk. We started to share. I got to know her in a new way. And through the course of time, along with the example that my family has set for her, she began to seek what we had.
One Saturday when I went to pick her children up after a visit with them, she asked about coming to church. Now think about this…if instead of getting to know her and talking with her, I had spent the last few weeks berating her, do you think she would have ever asked to come to church? If I had pointed out to her everything she was doing wrong, instead of pointing out to her everything she was doing right (and believe me sometimes that took a lot of creativity to come up with), do you think she would have been interested in pursuing the path our family was on?
Not only did she end up coming to church but she had an experience that has changed her life completely. She is now serving the Lord, has made incredible changes in her life, loves our church and wants to see her children living for the Lord. Now we talk on a daily basis and we talk about prayer, the kids, church, what God has done—it is just incredible to me.
In just over a month, the children will no longer be living with us. They are slowly starting to get weaned back home. She now gets two nights a week where they stay over. We continue to build a friendship. I am able to share with her things that at one time I couldn’t have—because there was something standing in the way. It was my self-righteousness.
We can’t win people to Christ by pointing out everything in their life that is wrong. That isn’t our job. It’s not the job of our children, either. So if you want your children to be a light, they need to be sure that they don’t snuff it out before it ever has a chance to glow. These are reminders that I will be giving to my children as we begin to start a new year of school. I want them to be people that are others are drawn to, not put off by.
Do not judge, or you too will be judged. For in the same way you judge others, you will be judged, and with the measure you use, it will be measured to you (Matthew 7:1-2)
Do not judge, and you will not be judged. Do not condemn, and you will not be condemned. Forgive, and you will be forgiven (Luke 6:37)
What business is it of mine to judge those outside the church? Are you not to judge those inside? (I Corinthians 5:12)