I struggle with this one. I am doing better the older I get, but I sometimes have this drive to win my case or be right above listening, understanding, and being compassionate. It is something I have to consciously fight against. Even if I am not right, I sometimes fight until I can make my case seem plausible. I am ashamed to admit it.
We are meant to listen to one another and show love and compassion to one another, not to constantly criticize and judge one another.
It seems that these days a lot of “Christian” organizations use a lot of time and expense to “fight” against issues that really should not concern them. We are all free to have our own opinions and causes, but I don’t believe God wants us to use our time and resources to fight against things that are truly not our concern while also putting Him and his people in a bad light.
Our energy should be put toward showing love, peace, patience, kindness, self-control: the fruits of our beliefs. It is by showing these things that we change the world. We don’t win by judging and criticizing, we win by listening, loving and caring enough for others to want what we have.
Time and time again I see people and groups lashing out at other people and groups with whom they disagree. This takes so much energy! And it’s a waste. It’s a total veering off of the track set before us.
Billy Graham once said,“It is the Holy Spirit’s job to convict, God’s job to judge, and our job to love.”
Obviously the groups I am referring to are extremists and do not represent Christ or his true followers. But, I think if we are all honest with ourselves, we may see that in some small way we all do a bit of this. We may pick fights or take the time to side with fights that really give more ground to the enemy than gain it for Christ. (The NC bathroom law situation and Target stores for instance.) We may do this on a larger scale, and/or with the ones closest to us.
The main goal in the life of a Christ-follower should be to show love and compassion to others – to ALL others, even those with opposing views – and to live a life of example. Spending time and money to picket an abortion clinic for instance is not showing the love of Christ. Those women have been through enough and what they need is a hug and to know that Jesus loves them as much as he loved them before, and that nothing can change that. Those women know what they have done. What would it look like if we showed God’s love by standing outside a clinic to give hugs and share information about support groups? What if we invited them to come to church with us the next Sunday? Perhaps this behavior would show them compassion and cause them to make a different choice in the future, or influence an onlooker to make another choice. Then they would know there would be someone to love them through their choice, whatever that may be.
What would that look like? I think you get the idea.
None of us knows exactly what another’s set of life circumstances is. Our job is to listen, show love and compassion. Period. God doesn’t “need” us to put people in their place – he knows our hearts, and that job is His.
How about this quote from Dale Carnegie in his book How To Win Friends & Influence People: “Criticism is futile because it puts a person on the defensive and usually makes him strive to justify himself. Criticism is dangerous, because it wounds a person’s precious pride, hurts his sense of importance, and arouses resentment.”
If we want to show people another way, we do that by example and with love – not by spouting hate and judgment.
And even better, I’ll close with a few scriptures straight from God’s Word:
“My dear brothers and sisters, take note of this: Everyone should be quick to listen, slow to speak and slow to become angry.” James 1:19
“You, therefore, have no excuse, you who pass judgment on someone else, for at whatever point you judge another, you are condemning yourself, because you who pass judgment do the same things.” Romans 2:1
“Do not judge, or you too will be judged.” Matthew 7:1