I am in Florida taking a much needed break. The weather has been lovely. Feels good to feel that sunshine again. We have visited with old friends and it’s been great.
I want to let you know that I have just opened registration for 2016 Empowered To Change, my six-month group-coaching program that starts in January. It’s a great opportunity for you to get some personal coaching in a group setting. If you want more information about this program, click here.
Question: You talk about putting consequences in place so as to not enable one's spouse. You teach about not repaying evil for evil. I try very hard to not respond in a negative way when I am wronged.
Also, I examine myself to see if I am becoming bitter, which I don't think I am. But I find myself wanting God to judge my spouse for what he does. Is this Biblically wrong? In a number of Psalms we see the psalmist praying for justice and punishment.
Answer: This is a tricky question because I think you struggle with what we all struggle with when we are wronged. I am so glad that you are aware that you are tempted to respond with more evil but you don’t want to. And you are also examining yourself for roots of bitterness, which you know give the devil a foothold.
So let’s really focus on the whole idea of judging because I think that’s the lynchpin of what you are asking.
God is the only true judge because he knows everyone’s heart and we do not (tweet that).
Therefore I see nothing unbiblical about praying for God’s justice, punishment or even just judgment on someone.
The tricky part comes in when we act as if we are the judge. That’s where I think we get into unbiblical territory. In some ways, we are called to judge a believer by his or her fruit. We are not to simply believe someone’s words if his or her actions are inconsistent with those words, but I would use the term discernment more than judge in these cases.
Let me share a personal example. A few years back I was heading to the grocery store after a huge snowstorm. I needed food (as did everyone else) and the parking spots in the parking lot in the grocery store were not all accessible because of the huge snow mounds. People were waiting in line for parking spots to open up. As I was waiting for someone to pull out, another car whipped around the corner and pulled into the spot I was waiting for.
In my anger I yelled, “Jerk”. Thankfully he could not hear me, but in that moment I judged him as a jerk. I judged him as an inconsiderate, selfish person. The Holy Spirit convicted me that my judgment was sinful. It was a condemning statement, not a statement about the truth. The truth was he took the spot I had been waiting for. I don’t know why he did that. I didn’t need to whitewash the truth of those facts. But the problem was I condemned his motives and actions as if I knew why he did it or as if I had never been guilty of selfish, inconsiderate acts myself. I acted like I was the righteous one judging the sinner. I think that’s what God warns us against. That is not our place. We are not qualified to be the judge or condemner of another.
Therefore, I think you can discern someone’s behaviors as sinful. I think you can implement consequences for destructive behaviors where appropriate or set boundaries for yourself to be less injured by those behaviors. But I don’t think we are qualified to judge someone’s motives or condemn them as if we are not guilty of sin, even if they are different sins.
The prodigal son was guilty of lascivious living, but his older brother was also guilty of self-righteousness and hard heartedness. But it was the older brother who judged the younger because he acted as if the younger brothers sins were bad and that he wasn’t guilty of sin himself. That was not true, but in our self-righteousness, we can feel like that’s true. Only God has the right to judge.
Friend, how do you handle the difference between naming sin for what it is, both in your life or in someone else’s life without being superior or judgmental?