The Bridge Chicago is a way to offer the resources of Mission:USA to help people do good ministry.
My friend and I talk a lot about people at church, like how the Lord has blessed them, how they’re doing, how we can pray for them, but without giving out any infomation they wouldn’t want the other person knowing. But through this, sometimes I feel like we might be judging their relationship with God without knowing enough, even though some have openly admitted to not being Christian and us wanting to help. How can I know for sure if I am judging their relationship with God or not?
This is really sharp question. As Christians, we are not supposed to judge, that is very clear from Jesus’s teachings. So if someone is painting a protest sign about God hating someone, then it is pretty obvious that they have seriously missed the point along the way. But what about these not so extreme examples? It is an important point to give some thought to.
I’m from Tennessee, and in the south there is a phrase that is the hallmark of gossipy church people: “bless their heart”. Basically what that means is “I know I shouldn’t be talking about this person’s business, but I want to, so I will and then add a churchy little phrase at the end”. That is the kind of person you are trying to avoid being, and that is a good start.
I think the basis for whether or not you are judging has to do with your intentions. Jesus makes the statement about not ignoring a plank in your own eye to comment on the speck in someone else’s. So if you are pointing out another person’s faults to make you feel better about your own, then you are judging. If you want to just be the person who knows the dirt about people’s lives, then that is gossip, which is also a destructive thing.
The Christ like response to knowing details about someone’s life is to empathize and serve. That keeps you from judging because you are relating to the person, trying to find what is common between you and them. It also is different from gossip because gossip is idle, it has no desire to actually help the person being discussed. Empathy and service are also different from gossip and judgment in that they aren’t concerned with finding out every detail, you can empathize with someone and still respect boundaries.
So the example of negative behavior would be: “X and Y broke up” “Well who broke up with who?” “I always thought she could do better, she was settling because she has low self esteem…bless her heart.”
The better response would be: “X and Y broke up” “That must be tough for her, we should maybe call and see if she wants to have lunch this week”. If you are looking to serve and love then that will tend to keep you from wandering into disrespecting people by gossiping about them.
-Matt from The Bridge