Monday, July 14, 2008

Self-Protection: a Root of Judgment

In addressing judgment in the last post as an ill of the Body of Christ, I intended a generalization which I trust is understood only as a description of the negative power of a particular disposition of heart and the consequence of the same. I do not intend to be critical for the sake of throwing stones, however, critical analysis cannot frame a suggestion for more life without naming that which bleeds the spiritual life from Christian fellowship. Drawing an analogy from growing plants, plants grow best in fertile soil. Introduce poisonous chemicals into good soil, and the quality of the soil becomes a non-issue. The plant will show signs of distress; at some notch, the concentration becomes deadly.

An individual believer's responsibility within the Body is possibly summarized as loving service. Referencing the list of "one another's" from the post The Commission of Community as the basis of my summary, it is a given there are other directives for Body life, as well. Carrying judgment into the exchange between believers is the antithesis of loving one another.

I will not list the possible areas of judgment. That list is despicably familiar. I suggest an individual fix, however; and I hope you will recommend your insights for the same.

Judgment builds out of a need to protect ourselves. Self-preservation and being one's own advocate for safety within a group are powerful internal motivators of the natural man. When our conscience is not clear, i.e. we are bearing the burden of a sin or sins that we do not fully trust is covered by the Cross, we expect others to judge us. If this is a motivator for the heart, the language chosen in communication is intended to create a veil of protection or to deliberately insulate by emotional distance from others.

Often we feel a need to protect ourselves from others' sins, as well. Within relationships, sin affects those who share life with the sinner. The level of relationship is commensurate with the impact level of sin beyond the life of the actively sinning person. I think this is a major dynamic across the centuries in the development of Christian practice of church administration. Leaders are desired who are in control of a group, in part, to ensure the sins of brethren are contained within the parameters of the sinner's life. But whether or not that be true, I suggest we judge others as a means of protecting ourselves from bearing the collateral fallout of consequences a sinning brother or sister faces.

You can name other reasons judging occurs. The fix is to judge our own hearts and repent when our language or attitudes are intended to create a distance between ourselves and our brothers and sisters. Is someone irritating or unpleasant to be around? Maybe the problem is really not the other person, but the inability or refusal, perhaps, to love unconditionally. Remedy? Switch from viewing the person with the natural heart and rely on the fullness of the righteous heart of Jesus within by His Holy Spirit. What occurs is the removal of judgment, replaced by trust in Christ. Where trust abounds for Him, there is no need for the limited self-protection judgment provides. In such decisions, Christianity crosses from theological construct into a spiritual application of the supernatural reality we know as believers. Abundant life results.


Craig V. said...

That's an interesting insight, that self protection is part of the kind of judging the Scriptures forbid. One difficulty for me is that 'judging' can have different meanings. We certainly see examples in Scripture of strong condemnation of false living and false belief. We are called to warn and to restore. When do these become judging in the way that Jesus prohibits? Perhaps self protection is the key.

ded said...

Hey craig v.,

Glad to have you back around here!

I think of self-promotion, also: an aggressive, get-the-other-guy-out-of-the-way protective maneuver fueled a bit by greed occurs as well. A blog post can only be so long. ;^)

There are other "root" motivations, but this one strikes a chord with me, as it is the reason I find myself judging in unholy ways.

Jesus tells us to judge with right judgment. I have pondered this multiple meaning with you--we just didn't know it because the distance is so great!

Amazing to me it is, how often your comment brings up the idea I am mulling over for the next post.

Craig V. said...

We should probably emphasize that any proper warning or attempt at restoration must come from love. If we find ourselves demonizing or consistently misreading someone, that should be a warning to us that our motivation is off.

Self deception is easy in this area. We may not see how we're being self protective or what our real motivation is. Sadly, I'm an expert at self justification.

Judging also gets more complicated when third parties are involved. I can be very tolerant of what I consider to be false belief if it's just me and the one holding the belief. In fact, I aim to welcome other beliefs because they help me see my own beliefs better. Even heresies contain some truth and that truth may help me to be more self critical of what I think I know. When the 'false beliefs' are being taught in the church, however, I have to be concerned about more than how I'm affected.

ded said...

Love, the pure love of Christ is, of course, the answer to all ills. Bringing correction to another is certainly a main area for the love of Christ.

As I have pondered this topic more, I have changed to the title to "a root" instead of "the root."

Thanks for your continued interaction on this blog, craig v.