October 9, 2014

Finger-pointing in front of a mirror

Another spiritual danger is finger-pointing. Jesus warns about doing it: “Judge not, and you will not be judged; condemn not, and you will not be condemned; forgive, and you will be forgiven; give, and it will be given to you. Good measure, pressed down, shaken together, running over, will be put into your lap. For with the measure you use it will be measured back to you.” (Luke 6:37–38)

This idea of “You are not supposed to judge” sometimes gets me a bit riled. Those who read these verses are usually protesting the legitimate use of discernment, church discipline, and law courts, but this is not what Jesus is ruling out. Instead, He is saying we must discontinue our tendency to criticize and find fault with others. Some do this easier than others.

In a couple weeks, I’m speaking at a retreat on the topic of spiritual gifts and how God builds into us various motivations or ways of perceiving needs and how to fill them. This is built on the gift list in Romans 12. For example, a teacher is concerned that people have the right information and think in godly ways. A giver is concerned that people have their financial and physical needs met and relies on God as his source to be generous.

These seven gifts belong to every Christian, yet one is usually dominant. Because of that dominant gift or motivation, those people who have it will show certain characteristics. The prophet or perceiver is known to display a very black and white view of everything. It is those who have this gift that are more prone to be critical. They see what is wrong and want to fix it, but finger-pointing does not do it.

Oddly enough, the black and white people usually have a huge sense of first applying truth to themselves, and therefore struggle with a low sense of self-worth. Unless they rely on God for His estimation of their worth, they might point fingers and start condemning others. They seem to feel superior (which is how they act), they actually feel inferior and condemned. Their gift of ‘seeing what is wrong’ is supposed to be motivation to pray, not to point.

So criticism is a spiritual danger, whether it is part of my temperament or giftedness, a way of trying to build myself up, or just a bad habit. It blinds me to my own needs and alienates me from others.

As for the second part of the above passage, yesterday, I was filling a canister with pasta. When it looked like it would overflow, I shook the jar and the pasta settled so every bit fit. In this case, I didn’t want it to run over, but this is what God promises to a generous person. He measures back generously so that whatever He gives to me will fill my life, even run over so I have more than I need.

From this, it is easy to see that a generous spirit is the antidote to criticism. This is not just about physical and financial gifts, but continually seeking the positive well-being of others. Such an attitude with those actions also produces consequences, but they are far more positive than what happens when I am critical. He clearly says that His rewards (or consequences) are in relation to the way I measure.

This also relates to my view of God. He is black and white, but He is also generous. His Word shows me how to be like Him in those areas, not greedy or hoarding, but also able to discern truth without going fuzzy on it.

My strongest spiritual gifts are not nearly as important as obedience to God. Obeying Him is based on loving Him, not on my faculties. I can learn from those who are strong givers; God is the source and I am merely a channel and can give generously based on faith in a heavenly supply.

Actually, the black and white attitude is a God-thing too. In Him, things are either of Christ and the Holy Spirit, or not. Yet with my finite mind, life often seems a lot more complicated. I cannot figure out myself most of the time, never mind others, so what makes me think I can judge and condemn them with any accuracy? To know anything, I must continually check to see what God says about it.

Jesus said if we are going to judge, it must be done righteously and with all the junk removed from our own lives. That means His commands apply to me – first. I cannot pass them on to the next person, but must abandon all finger-pointing and instead keep His mirror in front of my own face. 

No comments: