Tuesday, January 14, 2014

Have Done With Condemnation

Have you ever tried to figure out how to avoid having a critical spirit and yet not overlook or condone sinful behavior?  It’s a mental struggle for me, for as I have grown in my knowledge of God and the Word—and hopefully gained some spiritual maturity—the sins and deeds of the flesh, including my own, are more apparent than ever.  I don’t want to give the impression of condoning wrong lifestyles or behaviors, things which I know are against clear biblical principles.  But I don’t want a critical spirit, which is prone to notice the “specks” in the eyes of others.

In reading Dallas Willard’s The Divine Conspiracy, I find a beautiful perspective.  He writes about the spirit of condemnation, which we are prone to have, and the damage that can do to others.  He points out that “It is extremely rare that anyone who is condemned will respond by changing in the desired way.” (p. 246)  Condemnation never does anyone any good; that is why we all rejoice in the truth of Romans 12:1:  Therefore, there is now no condemnation for those who are in Christ Jesus.”  And we shout “Amen” because we know that condemnation is painful and crushes our spirit and de-motivates us—and we hate it.

Yet, how do we avoid condemning others when we see what we know to be wrong behavior and attitudes?  Dallas goes on to write, “We do not have to—we cannot—surrender the valid practice of distinguishing and discerning how things are in order to avoid condemning others.”  (page 248) But we must learn the very delicate art of “speaking the truth in love” without attacking the other person’s worth as a human being. 

And then he gives some wonderful insight as to what to do when others try to condemn you.  He writes:

“And as for the condemnation we may receive from others, I endeavor not to receive it, to just ignore or drop it.  I have learned to look at it only while simultaneously holding in full view the fact that Jesus, far from condemning me, died for me and is right now intervening on my behalf in the heavens.  This helps me stay out of counter-condemnation, with its pain and anger.

“‘Who is this one condemning me.’ I ask, ‘when set beside that One who does not condemn me?’  I think I shall not be depressed about this condemnation of me, then, especially since I know that ‘nothing can separate me from the eternal love of Christ’ (Romans 8:33-35).  And in this context it seems only intelligent just to have done with the whole condemning game.”  (page 250)

How would our worlds change if you and I just decided to “have done with the whole condemning game,” to refuse to both give it or receive it?  I’m ready to have done with it, how about you?