Using Discernment...or Being Judgemental?
We NEED discernment. It is God-given and is a good thing. We do NOT need to be judgemental. THAT is a sin. So, what's the difference?
The Ladies in the FLO Bible Study discussed this at great length last night. We are studying the book of James and started Chapter 2 last night. When James tells Christians "Do not show favoritism"...what is he talking about? Without going into ALL the different ways we dissected this tidbit of Scripture, I will try and share with you, dear reader, what we discussed.
As Christians, we are fearful of being deemed "Judgemental" and this fear keeps us from talking to our sisters in Christ about sin in their lives. BUT, we are to hold each other accountable and to help each other grow. So what are we to do?
First of all, We must bathe the whole situation in prayer. Sounds easy enough. "Dear Lord, please prepare 'Sally's' heart for what I am about to tell her." But that is not the sort of prayer I am suggesting. Rather than pray for "Sally", I think we need to pray for OURSELVES... something more like this... "Lord, I see _____ in Sally's life and I think I should talk to her about it. Please search my heart and reveal any selfish, self-serving, or otherwise unholy motives there. Please reveal any pride in my heart. Lord, convict me if I am being judgemental. Cleanse my heart Lord until the only purpose I have in talking to her is so that her relationship to you may be restored."
When we are aligned with God's heart, our goal in confronting a sister in Christ about sinful behavior is simply to restore her relationship with her Savior and with other Christians.
A quick check is to ask myself: Am I concerned with her character or her clothes?
In other words, am I concerned with her heart or her behavior? When we are being judgemental, we are being critical of unacceptable behavior. When we are being discerning, we are concerned about a heart issue.
Bottom line is this, when a sister is stumbling, we must reach out to that sister and do all we can to help restore her relationship with Christ. The issue in this situation is not the behavior, but the heart behind the behavior. Rather than approaching her and saying "Why are you _________?" We look past the behavior and approach her with, "I am concerned about you. I feel like you are searching for something (or stumbling or struggling spiritually, etc.)...
that maybe you do not feel fulfilled (or grounded in your faith, or under attack). What's going on?" If she says you're crazy and don't know what you are talking about, then let her know that you will be praying for her and if she ever wants to talk, you are available.
I feel like I must add one more thing...if God is truly convicting you to approach a sister about sin in her life, do not talk to others about it. Do not ask their opinion or assessment of the situation. Be brave enough to follow God's lead and talk to her yourself. If God is leading you, you do not need anyone else's approval. When we discuss someone's faults, sin, and shortcomings amongst ourselves, our driving motive is often pride. We feel better about ourselves because we are "better" than the one we are talking about..... but.....that is gossip and slander and is hurtful and God calls it sin. We do not restore a sister to fellowship by gossiping about her.
Remember, the goal is restoration, not condemnation.
Whew! I promise that was harder to write than it was to read! My heart aches as I think of times when I have made the wrong choice and have talked about someone and/or condemned them rather than talked to them and restored them!
Oh Father! I have sinned. I have been prideful and thought that my sins were "not as bad" as others' sin. I have been full of judgement and condemnation rather than filled with love and compassion for a fallen sister. Cleanse my heart Lord. Draw me close so that Your holiness washes over me. Show me where my heart is full of sin and give me the courage to face that sin, ask your forgiveness, and turn away from it and put it out of my life forever. Help me Lord to NOT be judgemental, but to be driven to restore my sisters' relationships with You first and then to restore their fellowship with other believers. Lord, let me live out my testimony and protect my witness. Let those who know me want to know you, or to know you more.
Until next time!
"For Ladies Only" is the ladies ministry of Pearson Baptist Church in Pearl Mississippi.