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Am I Judgmental? Alistair Begg

Family Life Today / Dave & Ann Wilson, Bob Lepine
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May 14, 2024 5:15 am

Am I Judgmental? Alistair Begg

Family Life Today / Dave & Ann Wilson, Bob Lepine

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May 14, 2024 5:15 am

Ever caught yourself judging someone based on their appearance, social media, or behavior? Asking, 'Why did they post that?' or 'What's with their outfit?' Alistair Begg goes deeper into the effects of snap judgments on our relationships--and how to love even those who rub us the wrong way.

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I was just thinking, if there's anything I'm really good at. I mean, I'm like the bar people want to measure up of. When I'm at an airport and I'm just sitting there doing nothing and people walk by, you know what? You mean like when people are getting off the plane? That's another time, but you know what I was going to say, I'm a pretty good judger. I can judge people by how they walk and how they dress and when they're getting off the airplane, I literally cannot look.

Because I'm so mad they're taking so long and I'm so much better and I can get off quicker than anybody else. Welcome to Family Life Today, where we want to help you pursue the relationships that matter most. I'm Shelby Abbott and your hosts are Dave and Ann Wilson.

You can find us at This is Family Life Today. Not that I'm judging you, but when you drive a car, you might get a little judging about that too. Why are we talking about judging today? We all do it. We all judge. Well, sometimes the judgment is fair. Hey, I like this guy.

Dr. Begg, back on the show and he starts with that. I like it. Talking about driving in the car, God speaks to us through our children as well. So I'm driving in the car.

It's a long time ago. My son's 45 now, but this has never left me. I'm driving in the car and I'm doing basically a running commentary on everybody else's driving. Yeah, you guys are twins.

You're my man, buddy. Within five miles of me, he's like, come on, what are we doing? Look, what do you think?

All that stuff. And I had finished my little speech. It was just a moment of silence. And then I heard a voice from the backseat saying, and that's another kind word from your pastor. What is it about us in a car?

Well, it's not good. I do think there's some justification for it. Some people have earned it. You love this, don't you?

You love this conversation with Alistair. I knew I wasn't the only one, but I finally found my counterpoint. I think, no, but see, because this is where judging goes wrong. People think that to say judge not, you have to suspend your critical faculties, that there's nothing that you can make any comment about at all, whether it's right or wrong. That's how it's viewed. That's not what Jesus is saying. What Jesus is talking about is the fact that, you know, if I might say that guy's one of the slowest people I ever saw moving away from a traffic light.

That was actually an observation of something that really took place. But if I'm saying, look at him doing that bad thing and look at me, I don't do bad things. Now that's where the thing goes wrong.

And so the problem is that I find it easy to see the problem in somebody else and comment on it while at the same time giving myself a free pass. And Jesus, in the sermon, is taking on the Pharisees because they are, you know, the word in English is that they've got a spirit of censoriousness. That's their whole game.

That's their raison d'etre, if you like. So do you think when Jesus was giving his sermon on the plane and he says, judge not and you will not be judged, condemn not and you will not be condemned, you think he's talking to the Pharisees here? Well, he's talking to them all. But he's talking to them all and he's talking to us because as we read our Bibles. What he's talking about is if we are to be kids of his kingdom, if we are truly children of our Heavenly Father, then we can't take to ourselves, you know, a kind of hypocritical, self-exalting spirit of judgmentalism whereby we get a measure of, it allows us to step up one step by making sure that we can put somebody down two steps. I think that's really what he's talking about.

I fail to see what I'm like because I'm so busy making judgments on what other people are like without ever really knowing what's going on inside of a person. Because now as I think about pulling away from the traffic light, because somebody will phone up and go, Begg's crazy about that stuff. What I don't know when I say that is, I don't know, maybe that person has surgery and they, you know, whatever. These are the things I say today, you don't know, like maybe they're having a stroke in the car, maybe they're rushing to the hospital. Well, I tell you, I had an illustration of that because in 2007, I had a radical prostatectomy, prostate cancer.

And as a result of that, you know, that's like as close a man can come to a C-section or whatever else it is. And I remember I was walking across the crosswalk in our town and I was walking slowly and the guy in the car was giving me the whole business, the horn and everything else. And as I got to the other side, I said, man, that guy's just like me, but he doesn't know. I wasn't walking slow to give him the business.

I was walking. So when we judge, why do you think we judge? I'm not talking about you guys in the car or the plane. We all are judging people, each other. And it seems like, especially if you get on any social media, we're not only judging people, we're condemning them as well.

Do you think we're worse now than we've ever been? Maybe, but again, we have to, we got to hold this intention, don't we? That Jesus is not saying you're not allowed to judge between truth and error. You're not allowed to judge between good and bad.

I mean, the whole system of jurisprudence rests on being able to make moral judgments. So it doesn't mean saying everything's okay because everything isn't okay. What he's addressing, though, is the propensity for us to make ourselves feel better about ourselves if we can actually say that that person is worse.

Yeah. It's a bit like the story he told of the Pharisee and the publican. I mean, that epitomizes, isn't it? Because the Pharisee says, I thank you that I'm not like other men. I do this and I don't do that. Well, you're part of a church that operates like that. What are you going to do with a poor sinner? Because the fact is, I am the poor sinner.

I'm the one that says, that didn't even lift his eyes to heaven, said, God be merciful to me, the sinner. So what Jesus is saying, you don't want a church full of those people who believe that they're standing before God is on the strength of what they've done or what they haven't done as a means of their acceptance. Grace is their acceptance. And then what they don't do or do is not in order that they might be accepted, but is an expression of they have been accepted. And part of that is that we love our neighbor, that we love those that we're not necessarily that keen on. I mean, the average church is not full of people you would want to just take your vacation with, let's be honest. And I'm going to say too, this is so true in marriage. I think for years, I thought the problems with our marriage were Dave.

Sure. No, you never told me that, not one time. But I think it's, as Jesus said, look at the plank in your own eye. And I remember as I started doing that, I asked God, like, God, show me what am I like?

And man, it was not pretty. So I think we do do that. We look at others without looking at our own brokenness. I mean, Alistair, why do you think we, and we all do it, we all miss the plank. Even in Christ, we still do it. We see this back in our spouse and our kids and our neighbor, person in the other car, you name it, we see it.

We think it's huge. And we miss the plank. Jesus said it. Because we're sinners.

Saved sinners, but sinners. And you know that Luther says we're curved in on ourselves. We want to present ourselves in the best light. It's hard to let your guard down and let people really know. And that's the way marriage works though, isn't it? That in marriage, I mean, what vulnerability is there in this? Well, I don't want anybody else to see me without my clothes on.

I don't want anyone else to really see me when I'm thoroughly disheartened. But we do that in marriage. We have to. That's why we need one another.

And even our kids in the backseat. Yeah. Pointing out. Yeah, yeah, yeah. Well, talk about the balance though between Jesus saying, judge not, in Luke 6, and Paul saying in 1 Corinthians, we shouldn't judge those outside the church, but we should judge those inside the church. Yeah. So there is a sense of judgment that's healthy. Right.

Explain that tension. If God is going to come and stir things up, what if he starts in the church rather than outside? Which is what he does. Yeah, I mean, that's what Jesus is saying here. That this is, if you like, self-examination for the Christian. Not ammunition for the Christian to use in confronting what's going on outside the camp.

He's talking here about a spirit of censoriousness within the framework of evangelical Christianity, for example. Where, well, we know what the doctrine is. We know what the church membership standards are. We know all these things. And we know, we know, we know, we know. Okay, fine.

Well, it's good to know those things. But the way in which we hold to them and the way in which we convey that spirit, the tone is such a huge part of it, isn't it? Yeah. I mean, you can say the right things and say them in a way that is harmful or hurtful. But no, otherwise, how can we keep one another accountable? Yeah. And it's so hard in this culture, and I think it's probably always been true, but if I have a standard as a follower of Christ that's biblical, like you said yesterday, one man, one woman, covenant of marriage, that feels judgmental to others that think differently or are living differently.

No matter how, even if I'm very gracious in my words, it feels still, doesn't it often feel like judgment? Yeah. In the book. Remember, there was a book? Yeah, there was a book somewhere. By the way, we never mentioned the title. It's called The Christian Manifesto, Jesus' Life-Changing Words from the Sermon on the Plane.

Yeah. I wrote, I need to be exceptionally wary in what I say about others to others, because I have a very clever way, and we do in evangelical circles, of criticizing others or making ourselves look good by comparison, while dressing up that kind of attitude in the posture of spiritual concern or even a prayer request. I was going to say, it often happens in a prayer meeting. There's a lot of stuff goes around on that thing.

You know, you better be really careful about whose prayer chain you get on. Yeah, that's true. Slow to speak, quick to hear, slow to get angry. I do that little poem in there as well, which is a great poem. Read the poem. Yeah, I think I can just say it. If all that we say in a single day, with never a word left out, were printed each night in clear black and white, it would make strange reading, no doubt. And then just suppose, ere our eyes would close, we must read the whole record through. Then wouldn't we sigh and wouldn't we try a great deal less talking to do?

And I more than half think that many a kink would be smoother than life's tangled thread if half that I say in a single day were to be left forever unsaid. And it's such a challenge doing what we do, where we talk. This is what we're doing, we're talking.

This whole thing is about talking. And you know, the person who never steps wrong in his words is a perfect man. How many of them have you met?

We only met Jesus. Perfect. And so don't many of you get into the teaching game, he says, unless you want to recognize that he who teaches will be judged with greater strictness. And rightly so. But it is hard, especially because words are able to woo people, words are able to encourage people, but they're also so able to wound people. And I think that's what Jesus is saying throughout the whole thing.

He's saying, listen, you're my followers. God is a merciful God. Mercy ought to be part of your DNA. The love that God has for you is a generous love that is not responsive in any way. It's initiated by nothing other than his immense love. And we tend to love people because they're sort of lovable or I like them.

And so it's a reciprocal thing. I have to remind myself, God loves me not because of what I am. In fact, you know, the idea that God loves me just the way I am. God has only ever loved one person just the way he is. That was his son.

God loves me despite of what I am because he sees me in Christ. And when I remind myself of that, then it just puts, like on a golf cart, they have governors, you know, so you can't kill yourself. It puts the governor in there and goes, whoa, wait a minute, wait a minute. Hold it before you go. And sadly, of course, I usually go before I hold it. And then I have to come back around and ask for forgiveness. Well, the truth is if we were able to understand what you just said, it should make us extremely humble.

Oh, yeah. And so then when we walk in a room or get in a car and we have this spirit of judgment, that's not humble. I'm just like, who am I? What am I thinking that I would judge anyone else that's an image bearer of God, just like me? And I'm thinking too, Dave, in our home, we do that with one another. We do that with husband, spouse. I can remember also doing that with our kids when our kids would talk about other classmates in school. And I was so judgmental and verbalized that in a way that our kids were like, geez, mom. And I thought, man, that is not the gospel. I am just as broken as anyone else. And I don't know the situation that they've been in.

So I think I like that word governor. It gives us, you know, the gospel, the word of God, helps us to put a spotlight on our own selves of knowing that we are in need of the gospel and of Jesus. Well, Alistair, if you go back to the sermon on the plane in verse 27, and we're sort of talking about this, but man, you read these words. Jesus says, but I say to you, love your enemies. Do good to those who hate you. Bless those who curse you.

Pray for those who abuse you. What does that look like? Yeah, well, it looks like a revolution, doesn't it?

It looks like nothing that you're going to see in sort of the routine magazines, because our whole culture is look after yourself, defend yourself. Don't take anybody's nonsense, you know, and Jesus is saying, no, that's actually not the way you're going to do this. And again, it doesn't mean we are, hey, live any kind of life you want, but showing love and care and kindness to all people. And as Jesus said, those who curse you. Right. Because, I mean, we live in a culture, it's always been true. You get insulted. We applaud people that do a better insult back. We go to movies.

Right. You know, one of my favorite movies is Mean Girls. You ever see Mean Girls? He laughs because it's a high school girls movie.

And I'm probably embarrassed to say it, but it's pretty funny. But the bad girls in the school who are picking on the others get what they deserve. And you're standing up in the theater clapping at that or a Denzel Washington movie. And it's like when somebody deserves it and they get paid back, we love it. And yet Jesus says, no, bless those who hurt you. Right. Yeah.

It just sounds crazy. I remember there was a woman in my life that, oh, she had hurt me so much, was gossiping, slandering me about me, was going on and on. I had approached her.

There could be no reasoning. And so I had an email that I had written and I was like, I am sending this. And it was truth to me. It was truth.

Here it is. Here's the truth. And I was all ready to send it. And man, I had let it all out. And I was just about to push send. And I had that little, the Holy Spirit. The governor.

The governor. Yes. And I asked, I'm ready, Lord. Here I go.

And then can I, can I send this? And what came to my mind was love your enemies. Oh, oh, it was so hard. Cause I felt so justified. It was just anger. It was justice that I was going to give. And when I go to that scripture, I opened up the scripture then and I read it. Oh, I wanted to send it so bad. But as I looked and that's been years ago, probably 10 years. And I think if I would have sent that, it would have burned so many bridges.

It would have wrecked so much and destroyed a relationship that's really thriving now. Yeah. I got two things to say on that. One is I've made it a rule over the, actually a rule in my life, but certainly in pastoral ministry. If I have something positive to say, I might write it to you. Probably will write it to you. If I have something negative to say, I'll just say it to you. Because I want to give you the opportunity to respond to me. And I don't want to give you a written record that when life has gone by, you turn around and say, why did he do that?

Because it might not have been that good. Take another thing. You'll never hear your grandchildren say, let's go up in the attic and read grandma's emails. So if we're not writing notes to our kids or to our grandchildren, if we're not doing that now, they got nothing. They got nothing because you'll be gone. And they're not going to read your emails.

They're not that good anyway. And again, the other thing is I get exactly what you're saying. Is it true what I'm writing? Yes. Okay, well that's fine. Not necessarily. Is it kind? Yeah.

Is it necessary? Okay, let's just leave this alone. Let's sleep on this for a while. You think about how much happens to dissolve relationships, just as you're saying.

Through hastiness and not allowing to take time to ask the question. I mean, that's a good word. Yeah, Lord, shall I send it? Or should I say it? Yeah. Yeah, well, but to say it, you might be wrong even to say it. Yeah. Because again, it depends on the way we say things. Yeah. My dad used to say to me, your problem is not what you say. Your problem is how you say it. Yeah, and if you think about even applying the Sermon on the Mount, Sermon on the Plain to your home.

That's what I was thinking, Dave. Is your home, is the fragrance, the aroma, a kindness. And again, I'm not saying there's not truth telling. Right. And you need to do that in a marriage and in a family, but is there an aroma? Yeah. So the aroma of Christ will draw people. Do your kids want to come? Do your grandkids want to run into your family? Right.

They feel seen there rather than judged there. Yeah. The Dutch have a great word, gesellek. Do you know that word?

No. Gesellek. And it's almost untranslatable, but it means it would be like, you talk about your family room.

There's someone come in and say, this is gesellek. That it is appealing. There's no harsh lights. It's partly ambiance. It's partly tone. It's partly feel, it's smell. It's all of that stuff.

So a restaurant might be gesellek or a home might be gesellek or whatever it might be. And that's it. I want the church to be that.

Yes. Because it's hard when you are part of the establishment. I don't even know what it feels like sitting out there. Even when I sit out there, I can't sit out there like I'm just another person sitting out there because now my spirit of judgment starts coming in as well, right?

By the length of the sermon. Why do you take so long doing the notices? Come on, let's get this thing going. So I'm my own worst enemy. That's the truth. All I would say is you and our home create the best gesellek. There you go. That's lovely.

Oh, you do. No, I'm not kidding. That's good. I watch friends come over and when they get to the front door to leave, I can tell they don't want to leave. It's not good for me.

They're done with Dave. But you bring such joy and empathy and other centeredness that they feel loved. It's awesome. Thank you for doing that. That's nice. Thanks, honey, because I haven't been great at doing that to you as often.

Better now, but there were years, man, if it was not good. Excuse me, everybody. I'm just going to slip out now. This is getting a little too gesellek for me. I love it when Dave gushes about Anne.

I just do. It's such a beautiful example of what it looks like to be a life-giving spirit in your marriage. And after so many years, it's just, ah, it's so delightful when Dave does that. I'm Shelby Abbott, and you've been listening to Dave and Anne Wilson with Alistair Begg on family life today. Alistair has written a book called The Christian Manifesto, Jesus's Life-Changing Words from the Sermon on the Plane. This book really helps to embrace a counterintuitive and countercultural lifestyle guided by kindness, compassion, and the Holy Spirit.

And we saw a good example of that just now with Dave and Anne Wilson. So you can get your copy of Alistair's book, The Christian Manifesto, by going online to, or you can give us a call to request your copy at 800-358-6329. Again, that number is 800, F as in family, L as in life, and then the word today. And this month is a unique month here at Family Life because every donation that you make all month long is going to be matched dollar for dollar up to $500,000. That's right, so if you give a monthly gift of $100, it's actually becoming $200 a month, just happening in the month of May, and it's a unique way to be able to partner with us and help us reach marriages and families all over the world.

And when you become a monthly partner with us here at Family Life, you'll get a couple of perks, too. We're gonna send you a copy of Chris and Elizabeth McKinney's book, Neighborhoods Reimagined. They were with us last week and talked about how to be a life-giving presence in your neighborhood. So we'll send you a copy of that book, and you'll become a part of our new online community where you get to participate in the conversations that are happening here at Family Life, including a live Facebook event with the Wilsons and me on June the 5th at 7 p.m. Again, that's for all monthly partners. So if you wanna learn how to do that, head over to and click on the Donate Now button at the top of the page. Or you can give us a call with your donation at 800-F as in Family, L as in Life, and then the word TODAY. Now, tomorrow, David and Wilson are back with Alistair Begg as he explores the challenges of family life in today's culture and offers parenting advice on how to pass on your faith to your kids. That's tomorrow. We hope you'll join us. On behalf of David and Wilson, I'm Shelby Abbott. We'll see you back next time for another edition of Family Life Today. Family Life Today is a donor-supported production of Family Life, a crew ministry helping you pursue the relationships that matter most.
Whisper: medium.en / 2024-05-14 06:32:35 / 2024-05-14 06:43:26 / 11

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