Snapshots and Premature Judgments

Judge not, that you be not judged. For with the judgment you pronounce you will be judged, and with the measure you use it will be measured to you. Why do you see the speck that is in your brother’s eye, but do not notice the log that is in your own eye? Or how can you say to your brother, ‘Let me take the speck out of your eye,’ when there is the log in your own eye? You hypocrite, first take the log out of your own eye, and then you will see clearly to take the speck out of your brother’s eye.
Matthew 7:1-5 ESV

Yesterday, during a conversation with a sister in Christ, I was checked on something that has been on my mind for the past few days. In the past, up til now, I have been too quick to use snapshots to determine the authenticity of a person’s relationship with Jesus Christ. This sister and I were discussing a coworker who has a penchant for filthy language.

Her – You know, he cusses a lot. I don’t like that.
Me – I KNEW there was something that made me think he wasn’t a Christian.
Her – That doesn’t mean he isn’t a Christian. There ARE Christians who cuss.

It made me think – Yes, all believers are in different levels of their sanctification, and while we are called to be perfect and holy, we’re not, and we very much so fall short. And what if someone were to look at snapshots of MY life ? There are many moments where my behaviors don’t reflect the Lord Jesus. I am in no way proud of it, but it’s true. I have had moments of anger and various other sinful behaviors, where if someone were to see me in those moments, they’d probably assume I was one who didn’t know the Lord! In this, I’m convicted, especially in light of the Matthew 7 Scripture I referenced above.

Judge not, that you be not judged. For with the judgment you pronounce you will be judged, and with the measure you use it will be measured to you.

The same things I see in other people, they are probably seeing in me. There were moments after I 1st got saved where I used profanity, took part in physical relations with the opposite sex, and various other sins. This didn’t mean I wasn’t saved. At this time in my life, those things are no longer a part of it. By no means have I attained perfection, oh… far from it! But my life as a Christian has changed as the Lord sanctifies and prunes me. The fruit that the Lord, in His grace, has caused me to bear, attests that I am of Him, even though I have a myriad of weak moments where I give in to my sin… *sigh*.

I am nowhere NEAR as gracious and merciful as my Father. I judge people and consider them unsaved without being in their lives to see them on a regular basis. How horrible am I. My eyes contain trees, yet I find much fault with the splinters of others.

While I can’t assume someone’s salvation, I cannot assume their non-salvation. And even with all of the above, I am sure not to negate 1 John 3:

No one born of God makes a practice of sinning, for God’s seed abides in him, and he cannot keep on sinning because he has been born of God. By this it is evident who are the children of God, and who are the children of the devil: whoever does not practice righteousness is not of God, nor is the one who does not love his brother.
1 John 3:9-10 ESV

There’s such a difference between a video and a snapshot. A video is life being lived; a snapshot is but a moment. May I not add more to the Gospel of grace:

I am astonished that you are so quickly deserting him who called you in the grace of Christ and are turning to a different gospel– not that there is another one, but there are some who trouble you and want to distort the gospel of Christ.
Galatians 1:6-7 ESV

The Gospel of Jesus Christ is a Gospel of grace. We didn’t have to work to be called, and works wouldn’t merit salvation anyhow… It is by God’s own graciousness that He calls people to salvation. Who am I to strip such a beautiful thing from a beautiful God ?

With this, I repent, and pray for His grace to see others the way He sees them. We’re ALL sinners, and as Robin Boisvert said in his 12/16/07 sermon, he’s never heard one pig say to another, ‘You stink’.

May I NOT lose my convictions, but may I operate in more grace when it comes to seeing others.

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17 thoughts on “Snapshots and Premature Judgments

  1. Mak says:

    good thoughts ๐Ÿ™‚ we could all extend more grace. Although, I’m afraid you’ll have to extend lots of it to me seeing as I do a fair amount of things that you have defined as “sin” that I disagree about. cussing for example. but that’s a discussion for another day.

    I suppose if I can’t get people to agree with me about cussing and drinking and tattoos I might as well settle for “grace in the midst of my sin” … I’m ok with that ๐Ÿ™‚

  2. Jenn says:

    Hi Mak,

    Thank you for your comment ๐Ÿ™‚

    I believe that using profanity falls under the umbrellas of Ephesians 4:29 and James 3:9-12, just to name a couple. The Lord doesn’t get any glory from a foul mouth. And there’s a difference between relinquishing a sin and pleading with the Lord in dealing with it versus being content in it… so those are my .02 in response, but you’re right — another discussion for another day. Perhaps, we can dialogue about it by email ?

    Grace and peace,
    Jenn

  3. Mak says:

    that’s ok, I’m not really interested in dialoging about cussing. I disagree with you about your definitions of “foul language” in the context of those verses. I believe the lesson is intent. And obviously, since I don’t believe an occasional cuss word is a sin, I don’t see any need to “deal” with it ๐Ÿ™‚

    but again, my point was that it’s good to realize the points you made about judging another – esp. their salvation. I actually didn’t know people still thought cussers weren’t saved. I’ve been out of that world too long I guess.

  4. Jenn says:

    Mak,

    Well, honestly, and I pray I am not being harsh here, our opinions don’t matter when the Bible has laid out what our lives should look like… I’ll be praying about that, concerning that and the Holiness of God b/c again, God gets no glory out of our profanity… Profanity will not be tolerated in eternity, as it is fallen speech, so why should we tolerate it here on earth… ?

    Grace and peace,
    Jenn

  5. Lionel Woods says:

    What’s good Jenn? Long time no hear. I was just wrestling with this as I was discussing “Lordship Salvation” with someone. There are days I embrace it when I am looking at the life of say an R. Kelly (I dont know if he is a believer but he best be very scared) but not when I look at a brother who struggles with impatience. Thus I have to put in a plug for a book called “Respectable Sins”.

    Jerry Bridges writes a masterful piece of work, which I think is the most underated book in the last few years. In it he deals with hidden lust, impatience, rudeness, judgementalness, and other such sins that are listed in Galatians 5 and throughout the bible, that gets no airplay in pulpits abroad. I think it is something that EVERY Christian should read.

    As it relates more specifically to your blog, it drives a steak right in the middle of my judgemental heart. I was listening to Ken Jones at Greater Union Baptist Church and he was discussing Justification by FAITH. Many times we scream that from the rooftop, but a second later we seem like moralist, by judging our brethern who may be weaker in the faith.

    I think we need we all should spend more time meditating on Romans 3-5 and the beautiful doctine of the Justification by faith apart from works of the law. We embrace it theoretically but don’t practice very often. My personal sin in this area has been in the arena of Doctrine. When someone is off theologically or even has false doctrine that doesn’t intrude on the doctinre of salvation (that would be hard for me to look over) I quickly question their salvation. I forget when I was off doctrinally and esteemed some of these teachers I now fight against.

    We all struggle with sin and as Paul said so bodly proclaimed that “I am the CHIEF of all sinners”. How true that is for all of us. Yes we struggle and struggle well at times but fall so far short and that is why the Reformers fought for the doctrine of Justification. Let us not so easily forget and thanks for your transperancy and for writing this. Let me know if I can repost it please, it would be my honor!

    Your brother in common faith,

    Lionel Woods

  6. […] over the head with trying to help them get the splinter out of their eyes. Please read her post here. Please contribute to conversation as we grow in this critical area of our relationship with […]

  7. eve says:

    hey, jenn … thanks for the blog entry!

    i have three seperate comments:

    first, thanks for reminding us that each person is at a different point in their sanctification. we’re all “being saved,” as shai quotes in one of his songs. all of us is in a place (if we’re truly converted) where God is chipping away and doing His thing in conforming us into the image of His Son. you’re right; we do need to remember that when interacting with & observing others.

    that said, we need to be careful not to use our own former sinful ways as a reason why “such and such a person may still be saved although they’re in such and such unrepentant sin.” why do i say this? because we AREN’T good examples!!! lol!!! i’m not saying anyone here (or you yourself) suggested this purposefully, but if we have a biblical worldview we know good and well that our actions AREN’T good examples! and they aren’t the litmus test for interpreting Truth. i may, for example, notice that i was engaged in an unrepentant sin for a while “after i got saved” and therefore conclude that one can’t tell whether or not a person is saved who is involved in that (because i myself did it “since i’ve been saved”) … but the fact of the matter is that i should re-examine my “conversion” instead of using myself as an example of what folk have been known to do since they’ve “been in Christ”. scripture’s admonitions are superior to our experiences.

    finally, you’re right in your perspective about cursing in that it’s true that our goal as believers should be to bring glory to God (and not be a reason others blespheme His Name) in all we do, including the way we communicate. as josh harris said in one of his books, “we should be looking at how FAR AWAY we can get from the line … not how CLOSE we can get to it!” as people who’s heart treasure is Christ and people who truly recognize the atoning work of Christ who was murdered in our place saving us from a deserved eternal hell … we should be SCRAMBLING to please the Lord because of our love for Him … not seeing how close to offending Him we can get.

    i’ll see you soon, sis!

  8. Hey Jenn,

    Good post. Keeping our own sinfulness in mind should always cause us to be a lot more gracious in approaching others when they do things that are openly sin.

    On the cursing issue – it’s actually a pretty simple one, truth be told. There are certain words which culture defines as profane and associated with the world. For example, you can have a shag carpet in the US, but not over in the UK. Likewise, referring to a female dog using the B word in the UK is a lot less inflamatory than the word is when used over here. As believers, we have a responsibility to have our speech reflect whom we serve. So even the occasional curse word, caught at the wrong time, brings shame to the name of Christ.

    Yes, we do all fall short. And that’s still not an excuse for using language would identify you not with Christ, but with the rest of the world. Believers struggle with sin, we don’t find a comfort spot for it and let it live.

    A few thoughts.

    Grace and Peace
    BC

  9. Born2Di says:

    Dang, this joint has been a hot topic today! Yo, that joint is definitely quite the monster of a battle.

    As you said in you last lines Jenn, “May I NOT lose my convictions, but may I operate in more grace when it comes to seeing others.” I find that it gets so hard to truly uphold the standard of practical holiness (which is doen by the power of the Spirit) while at the same time patiently enduring with brothers and sisters despite their level of maturity or pace of growth.

    I mean if we truly think about Romans 12:3-6, Paul says,

    3 For by the grace given me I say to every one of you: Do not think of yourself more highly than you ought, but rather think of yourself with sober judgment, in accordance with the measure of faith God has given you. 4 Just as each of us has one body with many members, and these members do not all have the same function, 5 so in Christ we who are many form one body, and each member belongs to all the others. 6 We have different gifts, according to the grace given us. If a man’s gift is prophesying, let him use it in proportion to his faith.

    In this verse, Paul not only warns us to avoid being prideful concerning our position/maturity in our walk, but he also explains that the amount/quantity of faith that we possess has been predetermined, premeasured, and predispensed to us by God. So we must, with all sobriety, consider the grace that we have received, knowing that no matter how large or small it is the least we could do is be obedient with that measure of faith as our “reasonable service”.

    Our obedience in no way merits the grace that God has given us. I mean, if that were the case then we could diligently study the whole Bible in one year and be biblical King Kongs by the end of the year. Why doesn’t that happen? Because God has predetermined when, how, and where he would add to our faith as we progress in the spiritual growth timeline that He has set for us.

    Now that may sound a bit fatalistic, but please believe I believe that we won’t grow if we aren’t faithful! i believe that we grow in accord with our faithfulness, but it is not a simple one to one ratio like getting paid by the hour. It’s more like getting a salary. Your pay does not change for the overtime that you put in but bet that you’ll get docked when you don’t do your job!

    Thinking about all of that, how are we to abide with our brothers and sisters who may never overcome those sins that we greatly despise? And I don’t mean church discipline level sins, but stuff that just gets under peoples’ skin and can contribute to personal character flaws, not necessarily schism and division. Paul addresses this in Ephesians 4:2-10 when he says,

    2 Be completely humble and gentle; be patient, bearing with one another in love. 3 Make every effort to keep the unity of the Spirit through the bond of peace. 4 There is one body and one Spirit–just as you were called to one hope when you were called– 5 one Lord, one faith, one baptism; 6 one God and Father of all, who is over all and through all and in all. 7 But to each one of us grace has been given as Christ apportioned it. 8 This is why it says: “When he ascended on high, he led captives in his train and gave gifts to men.” 9 (What does “he ascended” mean except that he also descended to the lower, earthly regions? 10 He who descended is the very one who ascended higher than all the heavens, in order to fill the whole universe.)

    Ultimately, Paul is saying that Christ came to this busted Earth to give us gifts that He had individually “apportioned” so that we might be HUMBLE, GENTLE, PATIENT and BEAR with one another in love!!!!

    God help us!!! We come so far down the road only to forget how far down the road You’ve actually brought us. Leave us bread crumb trails that we may not lose sight of the path you’ve brought us down that we might reflect on it with humility and thanksgiving. And ultimately, let us graciously urge our brothers and sisters on in righteousness…

  10. Mak says:

    I find the issue of cussing to be tired but I will say this in final response.

    There are things I say that are benign, neither glory giving or glory taking. There are times when cussing is benign and much of it depends on culture (as was mentioned in another comment) but there are times when cussing can actually bring God glory as has happened to us a couple times with people who had deep animosity toward God and Christianity, heard one of us cuss in light conversation and told us later that that was a defining moment for them seeking Christ.

    Is it God’s ideal? I don’t know and I don’t really care because we are to seek holiness by seeking God himself – not definitions of holiness created by people – cuss words are defined by people, not by God and we need to be sensitive to others and respectful which is why I won’t cuss on your blog…but God did not define what is a cuss word or not…man does.

    And I’m not sure he’s all that pleased about how much we talk about this issue frankly – and how we say things like “oh, I need to have grace because look how far I’ve come”

  11. Jenn says:

    Mak,

    Is it Godโ€™s ideal? I donโ€™t know and I donโ€™t really care

    …for out of the abundance of the heart his mouth speaks.
    Luke 6:45 ESV

    I believe that God is pleased when people seek to glorify Him and not be the cause that His name is blasphemed among the Gentiles and I believe He is pleased when we do not blend in w/the world…

    Even if you did profane on my blog, it’d be fast deleted… Cussing is never benign and always malignant. There is no such thing as neutral… Profane language NEVER brings glory to God and if people feel as though they want to seek Him b/c of the profane language of those who claim Him as Savior, they are desiring to follow a false Christ that is soft on sin.

    I don’t say any of this because I think I am better than anyone… quite the contrary. I say this because I am concerned and more than anything, I care about the glory of my God and the way He is viewed…

    Hidden in Christ,
    Jenn

  12. Pistol Pete says:

    A key issue you’ve raised in this post is deciding who is Christian and who isn’t. This, ultimately, is in God’s hands. Each of us must “work out our salvation with fear and trembling.”

    Nonetheless, those who profess Christ are held to standards different than the standards of the world – whether that be in what we say or in what we do.

    So, challenging one who professes Christ is not calling into question his/her salvation as it is taking their profession seriously and holding them accountable.

  13. Mak says:

    which should be done in relationship pete – and gently

    jenn – you are creating your own definitions of those verses sweetie, and until you admit that, I cannot have an honest conversation with you about it. And your words are fast becoming offensive when you call into question the legitimacy of my faith and that of those who come to follow Christ through the example of my life.

  14. It is a delicate balance between judging wisely and not being judgmental. On the one hand Paul instructed us not to judge. The context indicates that this is what we would call being judgmental. Paul also instructs wise judgment in his first letter to the Corinthians when he tells them to cast out the adulterer. The purpose, however, is not to condemn (although the adulterer may have felt that way), but rather reconciliation. “Holy” means being set apart. If we are to be holy, we cannot have unity with sinners. How can this be because we are all sinners? The balance I think is that not being judgmental and judging wisely both carry with it this attitude of reconciliation. We don’t cast anyone out in order for them to stay that way, but so they will know where the true spiritual bread is and repent so they can be welcomed back.

    As for “foul language”, I did a post a couple of years ago that investigated this with regards to a few news items at that time. I make a distinction between cursing, vulgarity and verbal pornography. My thinking is that there is spiritual intent behind all of this language and we must be careful not to offend those who hear us lest they also find the gospel we profess offensive for no good reason. The cross is offensive enough to those who are perishing.

    http://timelessfaith.blogspot.com/2006/02/violent-vulgarity.html

  15. Jenn says:

    Makeesha,

    Far from it. It’s the truth, and again, I say it because I care about the glory of God, and unfortunately, there may be a lot of people having Matthew 7:21 moments. Christ died for sin… He had to DIE… The Father crushed Him! This shows how horrible sin is, that God the Father turned His back on His own Son while He died on the cross for our sin! How dare someone think that they should come to Christ because someone makes sin look cool. That is the exact opposite. Christ is Savior; He is Lord. If our righteousness is as filthy rags in the sight of the Lord, then how much more our sinfulness! That is the same principle as the Family Int’l / Children of God cult — women having sex with men in order to ‘bring them to Christ’… That is a false Christ.

    I do encourage you to examine yourself honestly by the help of the Holy Spirit. We are told to do that in the Scriptures.

    Grace and peace,
    Jenn

    P.S. There will be no further dialogue between us in the comments. Anything further can be emailed as I do not want this to be any kind of stumbling block to anyone.

  16. Princess says:

    WOAH! What a loaded message!!! Profane language varies from culture to culture, setting to setting, language to language – so I can’t begin to imagine how harsh words are considered sinful. Socially inappropriate – maybe, but sinful?

  17. Jenn says:

    Princess,

    I dealt with Makeesha concerning the reasons as to why language such as that would be sinful… I doubt God sees us cursing someone out as merely ‘socially inappropriate’… Check James 3:7-12 and Ephesians 4:29 for starters… God is not pleased by vile language… And with all respect, I don’t plan to continue to hash this out as it was / is not the intent of the post.

    Grace and peace through Jesus Christ,
    Jenn

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