Author: Tag Tuck

The Flip Side of Judgment (2/2)

The flip side of judgement is that we judge in order to find the good, the beautiful, and the true. That’s what I wrote about here.

But this flip side of judgement is precisely why we fear judgment.
What if I can’t find the good, the beautiful, or the true?

Worse yet, what if someone judges me in the light and determines to be true what I believe about myself in the dark: I am not good. I am not beautiful. I am not true.

This underlying fear is what I believe moves us to react so strongly against any kind of judgment.

Of course it is true that people make poor judgments all the time. Also, when we allow or invite someone to pass judgment on us, we are giving them a power over us.

Sometimes our outcry against judgment stems from the fact that we do not want to give another person, or a particular person, any kind of power over us.

That is at the heart of the phrase, “Who are you to judge me?”

What we are really saying is, “I might not meet your criteria or my own, and I reject your power over me.” In a number of cases this is absolutely the right response.

There are times to reject the judgment of people who will tell you that you will never be anything, or that you will never accomplish anything. There are people who have no right to attempt to gain power over you by judging you.

Yet, what if there was a judge who could judge justly? What if that judge had the right to render judgment and exercise power over us? It’s hard to imagine such a judge, right?

Jesus, during his earthly ministry, made a lot of judgements. His harshest words tended to go toward the most conservative religionists of his day. His judgment was against those who were unfairly judging and usurping power over others.

Jesus had a way of nailing everyone so that they could not get away from his judgements, but in the case of those on the edge of society he had a way of making a judgment that was more like an invitation.

It was an invitation to see ourselves rightly and yet to also receive grace from him, the one who has the power to call out and condemn the worst in us.

There is no better picture of this than in John chapter 21 where Jesus restores Peter after denying Jesus three times. Peter runs toward the man who could condemn him. He see himself rightly – that he is not beautiful, good, or true – and he receives grace from the one whom he denied.

In that moment of receiving grace, Peter becomes what he was not – beautiful, good, and true. Jesus gives him the mission to feed his sheep.

For someone reading this, it could still sound like a fairy tale. The world is a harsh place and we have enough experience to know that there are more usurpers than grace-givers out there.

But maybe, just maybe, there is one who exists who can see the worst of us and not only draw out the best in us – but also put his best into us, so that we can pour out grace to others.

That’s a fairy tale I’d like to wake up to in reality. But first I have to find out what keeps me from this? Is it fear of not measuring up? Or is it a refusal to grant power due to another?

Which one is it for you?

Kindness, Compassion, Forgiveness

Often my heart is like cold metal. It can't be bent or shaped before it is warmed, heated to a red glow. What can bring the heat that will make my heart so that it can be shaped?

Taking a list like this and beginning with the mental exercise of comparing and contrasting the words brings warmth, then heat, then a red hot glow - not merely to my head, but to my heart.

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The Flip Side of Judgment

Why are you so judgmental? Who are you to judge me? As often as we hear these phrases or similar ones, we might think that judgment is out of style. No one wants to be judged, right? Wrong. Everyone wants judgment. Before you tell me I'm crazy, think with me about a few examples...

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Qualifying Belief

I’ll believe it when I see it.

What does that mean, exactly?

It means I’m qualifying my belief. It’s a statement of unbelief.

If you said, “I’ll believe you can write 365 blog posts when I see it,” then essentially you are saying, “I don’t believe you can write 365 blog posts.”

We qualify our beliefs for good reason most of the time. We’ve seen how life works. We’ve seen more often how life doesn’t work. So we become what a friend of mine calls “loyal pessimists.”

The most loyal pessimist in the Bible was doubting Thomas. He was the disciple of Jesus who said, “I’ll believe it when I see it.” He didn’t believe that Jesus had risen from the dead. He hadn’t seen it. People don’t rise from the dead, so he had good reason not to believe.

But Thomas illustrates something about unbelief. Unbelief never happens in a vacuum. Thomas isn’t a neutral person waiting for a belief to happen. No, he actively believes that people don’t rise from the dead – even if they tell you beforehand that they will, which is what Jesus had done.

That’s why my friend who preached on this called Thomas a “loyal pessimist.” The loyalty of Thomas is loyalty to a belief, not just that people don’t come back from death, but specifically that his teacher, who told him he would rise again, could not do this thing.

My friend also said that we shouldn’t be too hard on Thomas because Jesus wasn’t.

Jesus had already done all kinds of things that people don’t do. He healed the sick. He raised the dead. He made the lame walk. He made the blind see. He created enough food for 5,000 out of what was essentially a box lunch. Thomas had seen all those things. Why was this last thing such a stretch?

It’s as if Thomas forgot what he had already seen. Here he is in good company. The rest of the disciples were always forgetting what they had already seen with Jesus. I’m also always forgetting what I have already seen with Jesus. I forget how compelling the evidence for the accuracy of the Bible is. I forget how strong the case for the historical resurrection is recorded in the gospels. I forget how I’ve been sustained by the truth of the gospel exercised by faith in Jesus. In short, I’m a loyal pessimist too…and it haunts me daily.

But my friend says that our incessant forgetting is met by Jesus with relentless forgiveness.

Jesus went to the cross and was resurrected for just this reason. He was forsaken by the Father so that we would be forgiven. He was forgotten so that we would always be remembered.

When I remember this, then I daily drop the loyalty to my pessimism.

The story of Thomas is in the Bible in John chapter 20. In the same place there are stories of Mary and Peter having their forgetting met with forgiveness as well. The resurrection is the most extraordinary thing, and Jesus does the next most ordinary thing in order to draw out belief from unbelief.

With Mary he simply says her name. With Thomas he holds out his hands. With Peter he makes breakfast on the beach. With me he gave a friend preaching.

Can we let our incessant forgetting be met today with relentless forgiveness? Will you remember and then be able to drop your doubt, your loyalty to pessimism, and be able to believe again that the resurrection is God’s love for you?

Let’s remember today, and with Thomas proclaim that Jesus is both our Lord and our God.

A Case for Reading Hebrews

Hebrews lays out the case for faith in Christ for the interested and for the disillusioned. The last quarter of the Bible (the New Testament) is the most read by Christians, but it is the most misunderstood if they ignore the first three quarters (the Old Testament). Hebrews ties the two together. You should read it because...

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