Each time I watched the news I was filled with a variety of emotions. I experienced pride when I saw the spirit of love for other human beings and all the heroes that came forth to assist one another. I was filled with fear when I learned about the alligators and snakes in the water and the forecast for more rain. I felt joy to see the sun come out and residents of Houston filled with hope to rebuild their lives again. Watching those with financial resources step forward to give millions of dollars warmed my heart.
One morning while at the gym saw on the television monitor headlines of complaints against Joel Osteen for not immediately opening Lakewood Church as a shelter. Before long social media sites were buzzing and I observed all types of arguments and accusations against him and his church. In the midst of what was going on, I wondered why people were being so harsh. Why would individuals automatically look for the negative? By the time the week was over I was tired of hearing the arguments about what he should or should not have done.
We all have been guilty of judging and condemning others. Our judgement may be based on how a person looks, their decisions, how they spend their money or who they spend time with. Most often when we don’t understand other’s behavior we are quick to judge. Dietrich Bonhoeffer author of The Cost of Discipleship is quoted as saying: “By judging others we blind ourselves to our own evil and to the grace which others are just as entitled to as we are.”
Look in the Bible and see how many times Jesus was judged. He was criticized for being from Nazareth, for hanging out with sinners, for healing on the Sabbath, for forgiving sins and for letting a woman cry and kiss on his feet. People simply judged him because they didn’t understand him.
What happens to us when we judge others? Does God get angry at us when we speak against his chosen people? My mind goes back to the story of Moses and his siblings Aaron and Miriam. In the 12th chapter of Numbers, Miriam and Aaron found themselves judging Moses for choosing to marry a woman from Ethiopia. Not sure if their issues were racial or if it was jealousy, but they complained and asked the question “who does he think he is?” In their complaint they challenged Moses’ right to speak for God or to lead the people.
What happens next may make you think twice about complaining about God’s chosen leaders. God heard their complaint and called a meeting of Moses, Aaron and Miriam at the entrance of the sacred tent. God speaks to them directly and sets the record straight that Moses was called as the leader and that they had no right to criticize him. God was so angry at Aaron and Miriam that he punished Miriam by striking her with leprosy. She not only became sick but was kicked out of the colony for seven days. Finally, it was Moses who prayed for her healing and restoration.
So what can we learn from this story? We might want to try not being judgmental to the point that we outright complain against others. It is one thing to negatively judge others and even worse to go on a social media rampage about something we know nothing about. Matthew 1:1-2 reminds us “Don’t condemn others, and God won’t condemn you. God will be as hard on you as you are on others. He will treat you exactly as you treat them.”
Billy Graham said “It is the Holy Spirit’s job to convict, God’s job to judge and my job to love. “ So enough already about Joel Osteen, let’s focus instead on helping and healing all those affected by hurricane Harvey. Make the decision to use your energy and influence to make a positive difference.