In my more recent years of life my dad has taught me much about freeing people from my own judgment of them.
For example, before I had kids it was easy to form opinions about the strategies of parents. As a Behavior Anaylyst, I saw many failed techniques and often ushered in new strategies with great results. While my work was helpful to others, it became quite easy to watch parents wherever they were and determine that I would or wouldn’t do what they did.
Then I became a parent.
And I found myself putting my own opinions, judgments, and strategies to the test. Boy was parenting A LOT more complicated then I’d ever imagined. My techniques still worked… but now it was my blood, sweat, and tears putting in the long hours.
I realized that I needed to free other parents from my judgment of them.
Likewise… I needed to free myself from their perceived judgments of me. I couldn’t worry what other people thought about my parenting… I had to survive!
I also learned this lesson over a conversation with my dad about a family who celebrated a holiday differently from us. Dear friends have chosen not to celebrate Halloween… and to separate from our church, in part, because of the evangelistic outreach it held on Halloween night.
My family, however, celebrated* Halloween… but only the parts we feel we can redeem for our kids. For example, when we carve pumpkins, we read The Pumpkin Gospel as a family… and reflect on our “ickies” that God removes from us… and the light He puts in us. We attend the church outreach because it’s a great family friendly night that brings us together with our church’s neighbors.
I prefer this to what I see as running and hiding… and handing over to darkness that which ultimately belongs to God.
It was a conversation with my dad that made me realize that both families could be right. Who was I to stand as their judge and condemner? Or them over me? If God has called my family to the redemption of a day… then I can trust it is for our good and the good of others. And if another family feels God leading them to abstain from these celebrations… then I can also trust that it is for their good… and the good of others. Can He not lead each family according to the dynamics, personalities, backgrounds, struggles, and talents of that particular family? Or is it that the way He leads one family, He commands for all.
In some things, yes. This is not a call for a make-your-own-way-to-God party. The Word is very clear on certain things.
And on the rest… well, it’s not mine to judge God for how He wants to lead others.
He didn’t lead Moses in the exact same way He led Abraham or Joseph or Mary or Noah…
It’s so easy to compare our lives to others, our goodness to theirs… and forsake entirely the areas we need to grow personally. Or to decide that we have God all figured out… that He would never do this or that.
Unless, of course, He says He won’t or will in Scripture.
For example, He will never leave us or forsake us (Hebrews 13:5). That’s not debatable.
May we continue to grow in living such a way that we free others to be led by God as He deems fit… and free ourselves to be led in the same way. To be discerning and prayerful when we are unsure about the fine lines… and leave the judging to the Judge.
Therefore do not pronounce judgment before the time, before the Lord comes, who will bring to light the things now hidden in darkness and will disclose the purposes of the heart. Then each one will receive his commendation from God.