It’s ironic. In many ways, we live in one of the most tolerant ages in history. Yet, many of us — liberals, moderates, and conservatives alike — love getting up on our pedestals and dealing out judgment on our neighbors.
You see this a lot on social media: name-calling, rash judgment about people’s motives, and an ad nauseum amount of ad hominem arguments.
We see the bitter fruits of this behavior — those we judge attack us back. The cycle of hate continues.
Of course, we sometimes need to judge people’s actions. We’re not saying you should turn a blind eye to evil.
But how we judge matters. Many people jump right to judging and skip the secret ingredient: love.
You need to love people into letting go
You need to love before you judge. Love your neighbor into letting go of their faults.
Love is like the fuel in a car. When your car tank is empty, you can’t yell at it for not going where you want it to go. The car can’t do anything about it. It doesn’t have gas.
It’s the same way with us. How can you yell at your neighbor for not changing direction when they have no fuel? Love is the fuel. You need to love them into life.
It’s possible that your neighbor may use that “gas” to continue going down the wrong road. But at least you’ve given them a fighting chance to change direction.
But if you just judge them, they stay stuck in the mud.
Continue loving while you correct someone
Not only should love precede judgment. It should inspire the way you correct your neighbor. As we said, love doesn’t mean ignoring things that shouldn’t be ignored. It just means not trying to cut someone down, but instead building them up.
It means showing your neighbor that you believe in them and their ability to change (with God’s grace, of course).
If you struggle to show love when correcting someone, ask God for help. Remember the great mercy He has shown you. After all, you are full of your own sins. Don’t be too quick to jump on someone just because they struggle with something you don’t.
Let’s close with this beautiful passage from “The Lord of the Rings.” When Frodo laments the fact that Bilbo didn’t slay the weasley Gollum when he had the chance, Gandalf tells him:
“It was pity that stayed Bilbo’s hand…Many that live deserve death. And some that die deserve life. Can you give it to them, Frodo? Then do not be too eager to deal out death in judgment. For even the very wise cannot see all ends…My heart tells me that [Gollum] has some part to play in it, for good or ill, before the end…The pity of Bilbo may rule the fate of many.”