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Institute in Basic Life Principles

Command 15 : Judge Not | Day 102

Conquer the Spirit of Judging!

Not long ago, I was meeting with a 19-year-old girl who had recently returned to the Lord after a time of tragic rebellion. I asked her about the counselors who tried to help her before she decided to go her own way.

When I mentioned the name of one of her counselors, she exclaimed, "I had a hard time with her, because whenever she looked at me I sensed a judgmental spirit." I asked her how she could tell simply from a look whether or not someone was judging her. She said, "The way she looked at me made me feel that she was evaluating my dress and appearance and wanting me to conform to her standards."

This testimony illustrates a common pitfall of those who try to help others by using personal authority rather than positional authority. A counselor must be careful to communicate God's principles, rather than his own personal standards, if he is to be effective. Understanding the difference between positional authority and personal authority is at the heart of determining whether someone is judging or discerning how to help another person.

Personal authority commands, "You must follow my rules." Positional authority appeals, "You must follow God's rules."

Sheriff Ray Nash has given Police Dynamics Seminars throughout the world. He explains how "personal authority" is often at the root of police brutality. When a police officer feels that a person is violating "his" rules, he loses sight of the fact that his authority is limited to enforcing the laws of those whom he represents.

This distinction between personal authority and positional authority is also at the heart of the warnings we read in James. One who judges has usurped God's authority and is using it in a personal way. “Speak not evil one of another, brethren. He that speaketh evil of his brother, and judgeth his brother, speaketh evil of the law, and judgeth the law: but if thou judge the law, thou art not a doer of the law, but a judge. There is one lawgiver, who is able to save and to destroy: who art thou that judgest another?” (See James 4:11-12.)

When we are more concerned with the outward reformation of a person, rather than his heart condition before God, we are not showing genuine love.

When we see people whose dress or appearance is immodest, what is our immediate concern? Do we want to help them conform to a more appropriate style of dress or do we use those outward indicators as motivations to pray for their inward walks with the Lord, and their relationships with parents and others whom God has placed in their lives?

Looking past the appearance to the heart takes training, because "man looketh on the outward appearance” (I Samuel 16:7). To conquer a judgmental spirit, we must learn to see as God sees and look on the heart. Let's ask God to help us see the true needs of people and purpose to show them His genuine love.

“Judge not, that ye be not judged. For with what judgment ye judge, ye shall be judged ...” (Matthew 7:1-2).

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Contributing writer: Bill Gothard