Judgment will be merciless to one who has shown no mercy; mercy triumphs over judgment.
It sat in my inbox for nearly a week. The title simultaneously stirred me and scared me. I knew I NEEDED to read it. I knew simply by the title of the email that I needed some time to prepare to enter this ring.
The other day, I felt like a boxer prepared to fight. I opened the email. The email with the subject header:
A Fast from Judgement.
This could take awhile. We are undeniably a culture of JUDGEMENT and this was a challenge to fast from judgement. I was hoping for coffee.
I was convicted not only to read it, but study what the Bible really says about it and take a long, hard look inward.
It doesn’t take much to see that we’re caught up in it y’all and it’s making us a hot mess. It’s destroying what Jesus died for; the heart and soul of mercy and grace.
Okay. It may be just me, but my judgement comes in the form of THOUGHTS and unspoken ATTITUDES rather than vocalized social media commentary and since it’s just between ME and JESUS, it’s justified, and considered discernment, right? Uh, no. It’s still merciless. It’s conclusive without ever seeking Jesus. The unspoken thoughts and attitudes are just as relevant, destructive and sinful as ones openly expressed and for me, a fast was in order to expose the weakness of my flesh and to draw me into Jesus.
Let’s be clear. There seems to be some confusion, especially in a social media obsessed, election cycle crazed world as to what constitutes JUDGING and what is defined as DISCERNMENT.
tending to judge people too quickly and critically:
of, relating to, or involving judgment
able to see and understand people, things, or situations clearly and intelligently
Both focused on people, situations or things.
And that friends, is where the similarities end. One is critical and swift while the other requires understanding and mercy.
I know what you’re thinking. I thought it, too. How can I distinguish between JUDGMENTAL thoughts or actions and replace them with DISCERNING thoughts and actions? HOW can I do that? I THINK about things ALL day long. My head and heart were spinning, and yet, I knew that this was an area of my life that I needed to examine and examine deeply. I knew, beyond a shadow of a doubt that my judgmental thoughts could lead to much deeper spiritual issues and could lead to a lack of growth if not addressed.
“After we have thought about some issue of life, fast from letting our concluding thoughts be those of judgment. Rather, let our thoughts end in sincere prayer for mercy, redemption and forgiveness.” Francis Frangipane
“…let our thoughts end in sincere prayer.” What if we took our thoughts of judgment and rather than just landing there in our own beliefs, we prayed; honestly prayed for wisdom? What if I took my thoughts (which were judgmental on their own) and asked Jesus for DISCERNMENT on how to pray or move in a way that truly reflects HIM and HIS mission of mercy and grace? Rather than just commenting and concluding, we could prayerfully move to a place of tolerance, understanding, forgiveness, redemption, and transformation. Discernment doesn’t mean we surrender our beliefs, it simply means we view life and circumstances, people and situations through the lens of Jesus and not self. Not just convicted, but compelled in humility and grace.
Certainly, we ALL, especially Jesus lovers and followers want what requires understanding and mercy; until we don’t. Until our need to be right trumps everything else. Until it soothes our own egos to present ourselves as “better than.”As I poured over Isaiah 58:6-12, it became so clear that the “fast” that pleases the Lord, begins with a release of judgement.
If you do away with the yoke of oppression,
with the pointing finger and malicious talk,
and if you spend yourselves in behalf of the hungry
and satisfy the needs of the oppressed,
then your light will rise in the darkness,
and your night will become like the noonday.
The pointing finger.
The malicious talk.
Some things never change; they simply become magnified.
We can show up every, single Sunday, place our tithes neatly and generously in the offering box, walk out of the church door and remain reflections of Jesus that look very little like Him. Let’s face it, Jesus was judged, it’s always been an issue. Jesus didn’t drive on the city streets of Chicago where the temptation to judge is REAL, but he handled the Woman at the Well, (John 4,) Zacchaeus(Luke 4:1-10,) and Peter, even in his denial, not with judgement, but with discernment, mercy and restoration. Yet, in this media obsessed, information at our fingertips world, it’s become increasingly easy to sit in judgement.
How are we to influence the culture if we can’t get a grip on our own issues of judgement which lead to the next layer of issues including pride, control and comparison?
See the slippery slope?
Being judgmental leads to the next issue, which in turn keeps us entangled in this self-righteous, self-promoting, self-centered, comparison obsessed web. The kind of web that, once spun allows the enemy to simply sit back and watch.
Let’s be honest, it’s easier to judge than discern. It’s easier to judge than put in the soul wrenching, attitude wringing, prayerful heart investment that MERCY requires. It’s simply easier to cast judgement than to extend mercy, which is exactly why we need Jesus.
Judgement is careless.
Jesus was never careless.
Judgement is never Jesus.
As with any other issue, recognizing that the heart needs a change is the beginning of transformation. As I began my own personal “fast from judging,” I recognized that this was not something I could do on my own.
Literally, in honest confession, I wasn’t a full minute into my fast of judging when a sneaky thought of judgement danced across the ticker in my mind. UGH. I need Jesus. Everyday. I know it, but this was one of those blatant confirmations that brings you to your knees.
Maybe you’ve got this one all wrapped up. Judgmental thoughts and speech just don’t plague you. Bless you. Lord help the rest of us. Spend some time honestly looking inward and discovering that PRAYING and PROCESSING lead to discernment and mercy, through the mercy and love that Jesus offers us.
Don’t conclude. Let those thoughts become prayers. Write it down. Wrestle with it. Ask Jesus how your judgmental thoughts can be turned into prayers ~ and prayers into possible actions and conversations ~ that is where mercy and grace meet us and our boundaries don’t lead to division, but rather to a place where forgiveness, redemption and transformation can lead to radical changes.
Alone, we’ll continue to think OUR thoughts and spew OUR words, but with Jesus walking along side us in the fast, we can find our hearts transformed, for real.
It’s all grace.
It’s all a journey.
May humility keep us ever pursuing holiness where “light rises in the darkness.”