37 Jesus said:
Don’t judge others, and God won’t judge you. Don’t be hard on others, and God won’t be hard on you. Forgive others, and God will forgive you.38 If you give to others, you will be given a full amount in return. It will be packed down, shaken together, and spilling over into your lap. The way you treat others is the way you will be treated. Luke 6:37-38 (CEV)
A mother goes to the local grocery store to purchase her weekly groceries. Her heart is heavy and aches for her son who has been recently incarcerated. As she pushes her cart down an aisle, she stops to select a box of cereal. Behind her, a woman and two man are speaking quietly, looking down the aisle at her, and then, shaking their heads, move off to the next aisle. Is the mother paranoid to think the three people are gossiping about her family? Joseph Heller, author of the novel Catch 22, said, “Just because you’re paranoid doesn’t mean they aren’t after you!”
I believe the most destructive sins among Christians are not homosexuality and fornication, but gossip and self-righteousness judgment. These are sins that we do not “call out” from pulpits or refuse to allow such sinners to be leaders in the church. They are secret, insidious sins that strike at the core of our faith: Love our neighbors as ourselves.
Judging others and gossiping can be sins we may ignore or even lie to ourselves about. Here are some questions I have asked myself recently:
When someone asks me to pray for them or someone else, do I ask for details about their troubles because it helps me to “pray better”?
When I hear that a marriage is “on the rocks” or terminated, a young adult is arrested or battling addiction, or someone is diagnosed with cancer, do I consider how they might have “invited” their problems or made poor choices? Am I not judging?
When someone dies, how often is the state of their soul discussed at the funeral? Isn’t that a bit late?
I once heard a biblical professor share, “When I realized it was not my job to figure out who would and would not be in heaven, it was very liberating!” In all of the above instances, gossiping and judging people is nothing but sin. It is my task as Jesus’ disciple to witness to and serve God’s children, not judge them or gossip about them.
I have often shared what I feel to be God’s primary mandate to me: Love God with all that I am and Love my neighbor as myself. That is what God wants me to keep at the forefront of how I conduct myself. When I ask myself the questions I suggested above, I feel shame and remorse for even thinking in a judgmental way or repeating any speculation about someone’s life. I have ignored God’s mandate and busied myself in sin. I hang my head and repent. Repentance is about asking God to forgive me and turning away from the sin.
When someone is going through a difficult season, my first response is prayer. Asking God to bless as He knows their needs, is never wrong. Encouraging someone with a smile, a gentle hug, or even a simple note “I am asking God to bless you and your family” may bring a tremendous lift to a heavy burden.
God answers our prayers better than we pray them. – Henry Neufeld
It is not the accuracy of our prayers or the number of hours we pray. It is the abundant love of our Father God who hears the cries of our hearts even before we utter a word. (Isaiah 65:24)
When I Call on Jesus written & sung by Nicole C. Mullen