Does Agreement Equal Love? (Y1.T1.D35)
Updated: Feb 9
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Shortly after a family member became ordained in a non-Christian church, I was invited to her birthday party. We chatted for about 30 minutes before I left her in the kitchen to hang out with her friends.
With my small plate of cut cake, I found an empty seat next to a man I didn’t know. We’d hardly exchanged names when this fellow began to complain about how awful and judgmental Christians were. I honestly don’t know what sparked the man’s rant.
Eventually he paused long enough to ask me who invited me to the party and if I was a member of the “better than Christian” church my relative was ordained in.
I smiled as I stood to leave and said, “No, I’m one of those judgmental Christians you’ve been going on about.”
I said goodbye to my family member in the kitchen and left the party to lick my wounds.
Was he right? Yes. He was. Christians, like non-Christians, are judgmental.
In a Psychology Today article about why we judge, Dr. Elizabeth Dorrance Hall explains how our brains “are wired to make automatic judgments about others’ behaviors.” She breaks down these judgments this way :
Attributions are thoughts we have about others that help us make sense of why people do the things they do. Attributions answer the questions “Why did he do that?” and “Why did I do that?” When we go through the process of answering these questions, our brains are attempting to understand the causes of social behavior.
There are two types of attributions we make about others’ behavior:
When we make situational attributions, we believe their behavior is due to something in their situation: For example, our coworker might have been short with us, because s/he is tired or overworked.
Personality attributions are more about a person’s character. When we make these attributions, we believe the behavior is due to the person’s personality. Assuming that same coworker who was short with us is impatient or unkind is making a personality attribution.
The man at the party was making a sweeping personality attribution about an entire religious group. And he’s not alone; we all do this. The news is full of “us” and “them” determinations.
The problem is, personality attributions are not only unkind, they are also a sin. Categorizing an entire group of people, be it on political, religious, or racial lines requires the kind of assumptions God forbids us make.
The next time our brains seek to make sense of another’s behavior, we should consider the circumstances, and act accordingly.
God was fine with me walking away from the party when I did. However, he wasn’t okay with me condemning the man after I left to make myself feel better.
Now, as I reflect on the man’s judgment of my faith, I wonder if a Christian had significantly wounded him in the past. It’s okay for me to seek to understand, but what I can’t do is judge him in return. Jesus commands me to leave the personality attribution in his more equipped hands.
Elevate My Thoughts, Lord
22 “‘You shall therefore keep all my statutes and all my ordinances, and do them, that the land where I am bringing you to dwell may not vomit you out. 23 You shall not walk in the customs of the nation which I am casting out before you; for they did all these things, and therefore I abhorred them. 24 But I have said to you, “You shall inherit their land, and I will give it to you to possess it, a land flowing with milk and honey.” I am Yahweh your God, who has separated you from the peoples. (Leviticus 20:22–24)
5 Yahweh spoke to Moses, saying, 6 “Speak to the children of Israel: ‘When a man or woman commits any sin that men commit, so as to trespass against Yahweh, and that soul is guilty, 7 then he shall confess his sin which he has done; and he shall make restitution for his guilt in full, add to it the fifth part of it, and give it to him in respect of whom he has been guilty. 8 But if the man has no kinsman to whom restitution may be made for the guilt, the restitution for guilt which is made to Yahweh shall be the priest’s, in addition to the ram of the atonement, by which atonement shall be made for him. 9 Every heave offering of all the holy things of the children of Israel, which they present to the priest, shall be his. 10 Every man’s holy things shall be his; whatever any man gives the priest, it shall be his.’” (Numbers 5:5–10)
35 “‘You shall do no unrighteousness in judgment, in measures of length, of weight, or of quantity. 36 You shall have just balances, just weights, a just ephah, and a just hin. I am Yahweh your God, who brought you out of the land of Egypt.
37 “‘You shall observe all my statutes and all my ordinances, and do them. I am Yahweh.’” (Leviticus 19:35–37)
1 A false balance is an abomination to Yahweh,
but accurate weights are his delight.
2 When pride comes, then comes shame,
but with humility comes wisdom.
3 The integrity of the upright shall guide them,
but the perverseness of the treacherous shall destroy them.
4 Riches don’t profit in the day of wrath,
but righteousness delivers from death.
5 The righteousness of the blameless will direct his way,
but the wicked shall fall by his own wickedness.
6 The righteousness of the upright shall deliver them,
but the unfaithful will be trapped by evil desires.
7 When a wicked man dies, hope perishes,
and expectation of power comes to nothing.
8 A righteous person is delivered out of trouble,
and the wicked takes his place.
9 With his mouth the godless man destroys his neighbor,
but the righteous will be delivered through knowledge.
10 When it goes well with the righteous, the city rejoices.
When the wicked perish, there is shouting.
11 By the blessing of the upright, the city is exalted,
but it is overthrown by the mouth of the wicked.
12 One who despises his neighbor is void of wisdom,
but a man of understanding holds his peace.
13 One who brings gossip betrays a confidence,
but one who is of a trustworthy spirit is one who keeps a secret.
14 Where there is no wise guidance, the nation falls,
but in the multitude of counselors there is victory.
15 He who is collateral for a stranger will suffer for it,
but he who refuses pledges of collateral is secure.
16 A gracious woman obtains honor,
but violent men obtain riches.
17 The merciful man does good to his own soul,
but he who is cruel troubles his own flesh.
18 Wicked people earn deceitful wages,
but one who sows righteousness reaps a sure reward.
19 He who is truly righteous gets life.
He who pursues evil gets death.
20 Those who are perverse in heart are an abomination to Yahweh,
but those whose ways are blameless are his delight. (Proverbs 11:1–20)
37b Don’t condemn, and you won’t be condemned.
Set free, and you will be set free. (Luke 6:37b)
2 For with whatever judgment you judge, you will be judged; and with whatever measure you measure, it will be measured to you. (Matthew 7:2)
1 We give thanks to you, God.
We give thanks, for your Name is near.
Men tell about your wondrous works.
2 When I choose the appointed time,
I will judge blamelessly.
3 The earth and all its inhabitants quake.
I firmly hold its pillars. Selah.
4 I said to the arrogant, “Don’t boast!”
I said to the wicked, “Don’t lift up the horn.
5 Don’t lift up your horn on high.
Don’t speak with a stiff neck.”
6 For neither from the east, nor from the west,
nor yet from the south, comes exaltation.
7 But God is the judge.
He puts down one, and lifts up another.
8 For in Yahweh’s hand there is a cup, full of foaming wine mixed with spices. He pours it out. Indeed the wicked of the earth drink and drink it to its very dregs.
9 But I will declare this forever: I will sing praises to the God of Jacob. 10 I will cut off all the horns of the wicked, but the horns of the righteous shall be lifted up. (Psalm 75:1–10)
Forgive me for the personality attributions I make. You’ve asked me to love others as I want to be loved (Luke 6:31), and I don’t like it when others make wrong assumptions about my actions. Help me humbly and patiently bear others with love (Ephesians 4:2). I realize my understanding of their motives is limited, but You have access to their hearts (1 Samuel 16:7). I yield them to You.
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