Reset. Focus. Prioritize. Encourage.

Reset

When anyone’s cell phone seems to “glitch” as my oldest son calls it, my husband immediately says, “Did you turn it off and back on?” He knows that will reset the phone and usually result in a return to normal functioning.

In computer terms, a reset clears pending errors or events and brings a system to a normal or initial state condition, usually in a controlled manner. (Reset (Computing), Wikipedia)

Recently, I found myself reviewing the basics in every area of my life. A significant life trial has turned me back to the foundations of my operating system. I can’t exactly turn my whole life off and then back on again, but I can return to the basics in a way that sort of works like a system reset.

Focus

Every trial over the past 7 years has brought me back to a truth the Holy Spirit revealed to me when I entered what I call the beginning of the end of depression’s hold in my life.

“Do not remember the former things, or ponder the things of the past. Listen carefully, I am about to do a new thing, now it will spring forth; will you not be aware of it? I will even put a road in the wilderness, rivers in the desert.” (Isaiah 43:18-19)

This verse serves to refocus me on what God is doing and is going to do. Yes, we need to remember what He’s done for us, but only in a way that reminds us of what He will do for us.

Prioritize

When life gets overwhelming (busyness, concern for loved ones, hard times financially, etc.) the basics provide stability. They exist as automatic priorities that can remain consistent even when all else seems unstable and falling apart.

For me, prioritizing involves letting three simple truths keep my mindset focused on what God desires.

As God reminds me of the power I am yet to see Him display, I return to these truths knowing they are guiding principles to give my life stability. All the details of my life flow through these basics.

Encourage

Let the basics guide and direct you. They provide a foundation on which you can build and move forward, and they can encourage you when you feel defeated. The basics provide a system reset that might not erase the trials you need to endure, but they will allow you to operate from a place of stability.

“Trust in the Lord with all your heart and lean not on your own understanding; in all your ways submit to him, and he will make your paths straight.” (Proverbs 3:5-6)

Even though I don’t fully understand why these basics serve to encourage me so much, especially during really tough trials, I choose to trust in the future God has planned.

Because he has faithfully brought me through so many trials already, I know he will do so again. Because he has done the impossible over and over again in my life, I wait for the impossible to spring forth again.

Judging Others

5-23-13 fingers

Recently, an exchange student staying with a family in my church asked if he could speak in front of our adult Sunday school class as part of a requirement for his exchange program. At first, I hesitated because this student is a Muslim.

As we further discussed the possibility, he explained that his requirement was to talk about how he would make the world a better place, and he chose to speak about judging others. He wanted to talk about how people too often judge others based on one small group rather than by getting to know individuals. For example, most Americans – including many Christians – judge Muslims based on what they have seen on television, and this provides not only a very limited picture but a significantly inaccurate one too.

This student from Azerbaijan was absolutely right. The way many of us judge others results in disunity not only between individuals but also between religions and cultures.

Unfortunately, what many people think of when the opportunity to judge another or to be judged comes up is that we aren’t supposed to do it. At all. In fact, many people – Christians and non-Christians alike – use Matthew 7:1 to say that we should avoid judging others altogether.

“Do not judge so that you will not be judged.” (Matthew 7:1)

But a closer look at not only at that scripture but also at the many others that address this topic shows that the Bible does not say that we are NEVER to judge.

What does it mean to pass judgment or to judge something or someone?

To judge means to go through a process of evaluation, to hear evidence, in order to form an opinion. Judging should be evidence of seeking truth. When we make a judgment, we are making a careful guess that hopefully leads to a logical conclusion based on as much fact as possible. Judgment, really, ends up just being a careful guess, since rarely can 100% of the facts be fully known.  In scripture, judgment takes the form of discernment, examination, evaluation and admonishing.

Common sense tells us that judging must be a part of human civilization. Think what civilization would be like if it lacked judgment of criminals in courts, tests in schools and winners in competitions. Common sense also tells us that the context of the situation is crucial. Take the judgment of murder in court where the situation or context determines the type of judgment such as premeditated or accidental.

We know from Scripture that God is the Judge of all (Genesis 18:25; Judges 11:27; I Samuel 2:10Psalms 50:6; Psalms 96:13; Psalms 98:9; Isaiah 3:13; Isaiah 33:22; Jeremiah 11:20; Ezekiel 18:30; Ezekiel 33:20; Hebrews 12:23; I Peter 1:17; Matthew 12:27). We also know that God is set in position as our Judge because He is all-knowing, He is Truth, and His judgments are righteous and true (John 8:26; Romans 11:33; Revelation 16:7; Revelation 19:2).

But even though God IS the Judge of ALL, that doesn’t mean we never judge. In fact, scripture is filled with instructions on how WE are to judge.5-23-13 gavel

THE PROBLEM comes when we base judgments on fears, pride, ignorance and stereotypes instead of on truth. For example, when we judge a whole group of people based solely on one individual or even small group. Even worse, when we judge based on extreme positions of a small number of people from a group.

What does the Bible says about passing judgment? While it says a lot more than this, here are some of the main ideas we must know before we even consider passing a judgment.

  1. Don’t be hypocritical. (Matthew 7)
  2. Don’t be legalistic. (Mathew 7)
  3. Don’t judge by appearances. (1 Samuel 16:7; John 7:24)
  4. Judge based on truth. (2 Timothy 3:16-17; John 17:17)
  5. Judge yourself first. (1 Corinthians 11:32-32; 2 Corinthians 13:5; 1 Timothy 4:16)

Until we know what scripture says about these and other areas, we have no business evaluating another person. If we fail to apply God’s truth when we do pass judgment, we become a part of the problem.

Finally, and most importantly, the command to “do everything in love” must dominate all of our judgments.

“Above all, love each other deeply because love covers over a multitude of sin.” (1 Peter 4:8)

“Be on guard. Stand true to what you believe. Be courageous. Be strong. And everything you do must be done with love.” (1 Corinthians 16:13-14)

When we love each other deeply, perhaps we will judge less because more sin is “covered.” Maybe if we know what we believe and WHY we believe it, we will find that all of what we do will be done more naturally in love.

DISCUSSION: What is your response to people when they quote Mathew 7:1 out of context?

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