James 5:19-20 19 My brothers and sisters, if one of you should wander from the truth and someone should bring that person back,20 remember this: Whoever turns a sinner from the error of their way will save them from death and cover over a multitude of sins.
Over the course of recent years, I have been hearing a common phrase, or at least a variance of this phrase, “Don’t judge me…” I have mentioned before that mainline Christianity has moved more toward a grace-oriented message. I believe this is a move back toward Jesus and His teachings. However, as with any shift in philosophy, the swing of the pendulum can become too extreme. One of the signs of the swing is this statement. Those who usually use this statement do not want to be called to account for what I call a “violation of conscience”. I don’t want to go to deep around this “violation” (maybe a topic for another article) but it relates closely to our spirit and how it relates to God’s Holy Spirit living inside of us.
Accountability is all-together different. When I take on Christ as my savior, I agree to follow Him as Lord. That also means that I follow His teachings and commands. The Bible is full of verses relating to the following of Jesus also means following His commands: John 14:15, John 14:21, John 15:10, I John 2:3-4, I John 3:24, I John 5:2-3, II John 1:6, and Revelation 14:12 to name a few. When I violate Jesus’ commands, I have broken an agreement with Him. When someone points out that I am not following Jesus’ commands, it is not judgment but holding me in account.
When I am guilty of violating my conscience, an agreement, a law, and/or a command; I normally resist being called into account for that violation. In fact, many times I say in my heart and/or under my breath, “Who are you to judge?” As I settle in and begin to drill down to the root of that response, I realize that I do not want to feel guilt or shame for my choice and consequence around my violation. Therefore, I begin to project back onto the person, who has been sent by the Holy Spirit to call me into account, to protect my pain from shame.
Written into the heart and soul of each one of us is this sense of right and wrong. God has interwoven this as a part of our very being. Yet, as we move away from that part of us, we feel guilt…a tug from the Spirit. Furthermore, both Christian and non-Christian alike will be judged by God according to the commands He has given us.
It is much more difficult to hold one who does not believe in the Word of God into account. His/her reaction to a Christian will be “Don’t judge me.” The only way to the heart of this individual will be through love. I have said this before in Grace and truth…, to reach this person…though Jesus, we must help them to feel a sense of belonging until they begin to believe, then they will behave by following commands. At this point we can much more easily hold them into account. The caution here is to base any accountability upon a Biblical basis and a holding to an agreement to follow Biblical teaching. Am I within my right to judge a non-Christian for acts against Biblical commands? Yes. Will I draw him/her closer to Jesus by doing so? Not likely.
Unfortunately, this “Don’t judge me” thought has entered into the Christian circle. It has become increasingly difficult to hold Christians accountable due to this philosophy. So, what do I do? I first have to check myself and decide if I am holding someone accountable or if I am judging according to my standards. Once I have ironed that out and I still feel the person has broken an agreement in the following of scripture, I then take a route of checking in around the person’s belief system. I ask something like this, “Do you believe the Bible to be true?” If the answer is “yes”, then I ask something like this: “Why do you take exception to this command?” This person has chosen to do different than what God has asked. By calling him/her into account for the choice, it is not judgment.
I think as a body, we need to re-direct this “Don’t judge me” philosophy as often as possible. If we are not careful, we will let Satan use his power of deceit to fool us into believing that we cannot hold each other accountable for following God. We are called by God to hold each other accountable out of love and through love so that we can all finish this race together.
1. What has been your reaction, both externally and internally to the statement, “Don’t judge me”?
2. How have you handled that situation?
3. In your words, what is the difference between judgment and accountability?
4. Describe a situation where you knew you had Biblical backing yet did not speak up for fear being judgmental.
5. When you have judged, what preference, experience, or personal standard was that judgment based upon?
6. Ask God this week to give you the tools of discernment between judgment and accountability. Pay attention to what comes into your path around this revelation.
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