Character ~ Part C
“Instead, clothe yourselves with the Lord Yeshua the Messiah; and don’t waste your time thinking about how to provide for the sinful desires of your old nature.” (Romans 13:14)
In my last post, we looked at His command to “be humble” and “be merciful.” In this post, we will look at His command to “judge not” and “freely give.”
5. Judge Not
“Don’t judge, and you won’t be judged. Don’t condemn, and you won’t be condemned. Forgive, and you will be forgiven.” (Luke 6:37)
“Stop judging by surface appearances, and judge the right way!” (John 7:24)
Yeshua knows we have a propensity toward being judgmental. We can easily and quickly point out the failures and flaws of others and often more harshly than we would judge ourselves. The Bible tells us that Yeshua is the only Righteous Judge (2 Timothy 4:8). There is no possible way for us to know everything about a person – their thoughts, their actions, their intentions, their circumstances, their motivations. But Yeshua does. We see only a person’s actions, perhaps some of their omissions, and occasionally hear some of their thoughts. Yet what little we manage to put together we feel is adequate to pass judgment on them and then condemn them as guilty! The only way we can possibly come to a righteous judgment is if we can know what is in a person’s heart, and we can’t.
We are easily misled when we judge others by appearances. “Adonai doesn’t see the way humans see – humans look at the outward appearance, but Adonai looks at the heart.” (1 Samuel 16:7)
Judging leads to pride, haughtiness, self-importance, and superiority – none of which are characteristics of Yeshua. It is easy to forget about our own flaws and shortcomings when we are busy pointing fingers at everyone else. We should remember when we point our finger at someone else, we still have at least three fingers pointing back at us. That’s not very good odds. There is an even more dangerous aspect of judging others. “Who are you to pass judgment on someone else’s servant? It is before his own master that he will stand or fall; and the fact is that he will stand, because the Lord is able to make him stand.” (Romans 14:4) “Brothers, stop speaking against each other! Whoever speaks against a brother or judges a brother is speaking against Torah and judging Torah. And if you judge Torah, you are not a doer of what Torah says, but a judge. There is but one Giver of Torah; he is also the Judge, with the power to deliver and to destroy. Who do you think you are, judging your fellow human being?” (James 4:11-12)
Yeshua recommends that before we start to pass judgment on others, we need to clean out our own closet and renovate our own lives so that we are pleasing to God. Judgment starts at home, and when you begin to have an honest look at yourself, you will be able to look at others with the eyes of grace rather than looking down the long finger of criticism. (See Luke 6:41-42.)
The danger is that when you judge or criticize others, you may be criticizing and judging their Master and Lord as well. Typically, we judge and criticize with limited information and often little relationship with the ones we are judging. When we get to know them, we can know their heart, their motivation, and find out where we may be able to help rather than simply pointing accusatory fingers at them from afar. Yeshua had every right to pass righteous judgment on us and find us guilty of capital offences, but instead He came down to become one of us, to love us, to walk with us, and to die in our place that we might live.
Application: Take time to get to know others before you give in to the temptation to judge them. Try to see Yeshua at work in them and pray to that end. Passing judgment will also quickly close the door to showing mercy and grace. Remember to “treat other people as you would like them to treat you.” (Luke 6:31)
6. Freely Give
“When someone asks you for something, give it to him; when someone wants to borrow something from you, lend it to him.” (Matthew 5:42)
“Give, and you will receive gifts – the full measure, compacted, shaken together and overflowing, will be put right in your lap. For the measure with which you measure out will be used to measure back to you!” (Luke 6:38).
“You have received without paying, so give without asking payment.” (Matthew 10:8)
You might get the impression from these verses that giving is important to Yeshua and it is. It is a major part of His nature and the Father’s nature to give. The Bible tells us that God loved us so much that He gave us His One and Only Son to atone for our sins (see John 3:16). There is nothing God is willing to withhold from us if it is in our best interest for Him to give it. In fact, Yeshua urges us to ask Him for what we need because He is already willing to give it to us. “I tell you that whatever you ask from the Father, he will give you in my name.” (John 16:23)
When we give, we show that our heart is in the right place. If we are reluctant to give, then we value what we possess more than we value our relationship with God. Holding tightly onto our possessions shows they have a tight hold on us. Yeshua wants us to be completely free from the trappings of this world so that nothing can be used against us and nothing will command our loyalty more than Him.
Giving shows we can hold on to our things loosely, as stewards of what God has given us. We can give to others in need knowing it is pleasing to God and it is good for our own heart. To Yeshua, giving is not optional; it is a demonstration of our gratitude to Him when we help those in need. Yeshua explains, “Whoever has two coats should share with somebody who has none, and whoever has food should do the same.” (Luke 3:11)
Giving is not so much a character issue as it is a Lordship issue. Whoever or whatever controls your life is your Lord and Master. Giving helps keep our heart in check and our loyalties where they belong. “Here’s the point: he who plants sparingly also harvests sparingly. Each should give according to what he has decided in his heart, not grudgingly or under compulsion, for God loves a cheerful giver.” (2 Corinthians 9:6-7)
Application: Do you really have to have the latest electronics when the old version you have still works fine? Consider for a moment if your house was burning uncontrollably. What would you try to save? Your photo albums? Your coin collection? Your documents? Your pets? Your enormous flat screen TV or surround system? Remember, where you heart is, there your treasure is also. If you do not treasure the Lord above all and His kingdom next, you may need to ask Him to help you straighten out your priorities.
Remember always the words of Yeshua: “If you love me, you will keep my commands.” (Yochanan 14:15)
In my next post, we will continue in this mini-series on the character traits that Yeshua expects us to possess by looking at being perfect, not being a hypocrite and not swearing an oath by having integrity.