Who gave you the authority to judge other people’s choices? “Let he who is without sin cast the first stone.” We are all flawed, all fall short of perfection. Why do we feel so entitled to cast stones in the name of holiness, righteousness, or truth? Truth is in love. Truth is in sacrifice for one another. Truth is in treasuring the body, heart, and mind you were blessed with for your brief time on Earth. Bringing heaven to Earth does not come from a pursuit of perfection, but of love.
A few weeks ago, my pastor shared a message on hospitality. He pointed to several occasions in scripture that illustrated Jesus’s interactions with others. Based on scripture, Jesus wandered around, homeless by address, seeking those who felt homeless in their hearts. Jesus often invited people to stay with him, have meals with him, and do life with him. That is Christlike hospitality – inviting people into a safe space to be seen and loved.
Jesus made hospitality – the concept of welcoming others into a place of rest – central to his movement. Hospitality must be a core virtue of every follower of Jesus, and many believers have lost this art. People don’t associate Christians with being seen, loved, or welcomed for a reason. True love requires transparency and vulnerability – statuses that can’t be reached amidst pointed fingers and assumption. Judgment and hospitality do not coexist.
We’ve discarded being Christ-like in favor of being self seeking.
Consider this: the only people who felt unsafe with Jesus were the religious leaders. Not the tax collectors, not the prostitutes, not the thieves or the outcasts. The people who sought His destruction were the same men who scrambled to hold onto their power and control. By judging, punishing others for their imperfections, and living oblivious to their hypocrisy, the Pharisees were able to maintain an illusion of power. The people who walked with Jesus and found refuge in Him were the same men and women who were cast out, belittled, and unseen: the poor, the minorities, the disabled, the criminal.
Those who judge will be judged. It took me far too long to understand this message, and I wish I could thump my younger self on the head for her ignorance. Judgment is human nature, the most ancient of its kind. We have tried to seat ourselves in the place of God time and time again, from the beginning of Creation. The desire to place yourself above others is almost impossible to resist until you’ve been on the receiving end of judgment. Even then, it takes a great deal of healing and self-examination not to lash out with more pride and vengeance. The last several years of forming and developing adult relationships, holding a public position, and working in a variety of marketplaces have taught me that people are far too complex, intricate, and delicate for my sloppy assumptions. My perspective is microscopic, heavily biased, and rooted in my own struggles. Attempting to condone or condemn someone else’s choices is far outside my reach.
What I have had to learn, and what I hope you can receive, is that you gain nothing by trying to control other people. Our lives on Earth are scarce and our days are numbered. Wouldn’t you rather spend your days loving people, in all they are and as they are, trusting that Someone far more capable than you will lead them where they’re meant to go?
There is far more value in transparency than piety. There is far more value in relationship than righteousness.
I am not the prized example for hospitality, transparency, or love. I can, however, only speak from my own experiences. In my experiences, knowing someone trusts you, feels safe with you, and sees Christ in your love for them is the most gratifying relational investment. Loving people selflessly and completely is the harder choice – which is why it’s the road we must travel.
The greatest commandments are to “love God and love others.”
Not “love God and love the law.”
Not “love God and love being right.”
Not “love God and love your interpretation of scripture.”
If you want to be like Christ, if you want your life to be abundant, if you want to spend your days on Earth leaving beauty and grace in your midst, strive to love others more than you judge them. Create safe spaces for people to be themselves, wherever they are, as God is molding them and shaping them. Represent Christ by loving people as He did – with empathy, with compassion, and with mercy.
Most of all, remember that You are not the One in the High Seat of Heaven. You are the one, here on earth, living just as messy and broken as the rest of us.
“If I could speak all the languages of earth and of angels, but didn’t love others, I would only be a noisy gong or a clanging cymbal. If I had the gift of prophecy, and if I understood all of God’s secret plans and possessed all knowledge, and if I had such faith that I could move mountains, but didn’t love others, I would be nothing. If I gave everything I have to the poor and even sacrificed my body, I could boast about it; but if I didn’t love others, I would have gained nothing. Love is patient and kind. Love is not jealous or boastful or proud or rude. It does not demand its own way. It is not irritable, and it keeps no record of being wronged. It does not rejoice about injustice but rejoices whenever the truth wins out. Love never gives up, never loses faith, is always hopeful, and endures through every circumstance. Prophecy and speaking in unknown languages and special knowledge will become useless. But love will last forever! Now our knowledge is partial and incomplete, and even the gift of prophecy reveals only part of the whole picture! But when the time of perfection comes, these partial things will become useless.”1 Corinthians 13:1-10 NLT