Summary: If you want to truly help people recover from failure, lead with compassion, not condemnation; lead by example, not by examination; and lead with wisdom; not words. To put it succinctly, see with the eyes of a doctor, not a judge.
A man went to see his doctor in an acute state of anxiety. “Doctor,” he said, “you have to help me. I'm dying. Everywhere I touch it hurts. I touch my head and it hurts. I touch my leg and it hurts. I touch my stomach and it hurts. I touch my chest and it hurts. You have to help me, Doc, everything hurts.”
The doctor gave him a complete examination. “Mr. Smith,” he said, “I have good news and bad news for you. The good news is you are not dying. The bad news is you have a broken finger.” (David Holdaway, Kincardinshire, Scotland, www.PreachingToday.com)
We live in a broken and hurting world, which can leave us in an acute state of anxiety. People we love can make poor decisions, which cause an unbelievable amount of pain, and we want to help.
But how? How do we help people find healing for their pain? How do we help people recover from their failure? How do we help people get out of the trap of their sin? Well, if you have your Bibles, I invite you to turn with me to Matthew 7, Matthew 7, where Jesus shows us how to help people experiencing the pain of their own sin.
Matthew 7:1 Judge not, that you be not judged. (ESV)
If you truly want to help people recover from their failure...
DON’T CONDEMN THEM.
Don’t criticize those who mess up. Don’t separate yourself from them as those who are less worthy than you.
The word for “judge” literally means to separate, or to distinguish. And in this context, it speaks of those who separate themselves from those they consider “bad.” They distinguish themselves as “good” as compared to those “bad people” and treat them with contempt.
The problem with that is we’re ALL sinners. The Bible says, “None is righteous, no, not one” (Romans 3:10); “All have sinned and fall short of the glory of God” (Romans 3:23). So we cannot separate (or distinguish) ourselves from the so-called “bad” people.
Michael Shermer, publisher of Skeptic magazine interviewed Thomas Keneally, the author of Schindler's List. Shermer asked Keneally what he thought the difference was between Oskar Schindler, rescuer of Jews and hero of his story, and Amon Goeth, the Nazi commandant of the Plaszow concentration camp.
Kneally replied, “Not much. Had there been no war, Mr. Schindler and Mr. Goeth might have been drinking buddies and business partners, morally obtuse, perhaps, but relatively harmless.”
“What a difference a war makes,” Shermer comments, “especially to the moral choices that lead to good and evil”
Then Shermer goes on to quote Russian author Aleksandr Solzhenitsyn: “If only there were evil people somewhere insidiously committing evil deeds, and it were necessary only to separate them from the rest of us and destroy them. But the line dividing good and evil cuts through the heart of every human being. And who is willing to destroy a piece of his own heart?” (Michael Shermer, “Something Evil Comes This Way,” www.skeptic.com, 3-18-04; www.PreachingToday.com)
Did you hear that? The line dividing good and evil cuts through the heart of EVERY human being. It cuts through your heart and mine, so there is no separating ourselves from the “bad” people; there is no distinguishing “our kind” from “their kind.”
And those who do only invite judgment, or condemnation, upon themselves. That’s the point Jesus makes in verse 2. Take a look at it.
Matthew 7:2 For with the judgment you pronounce you will be judged, and with the measure you use it will be measured to you. (ESV)
To condemn sinners is only to condemn yourself, and the same standard you use will be used against you.
In Luke 6, Jesus put it this way: “Judge not, and you will not be judged; condemn not, and you will not be condemned; forgive, and you will be forgiven; give, and it will be given to you. Good measure, pressed down, shaken together, running over, will be put into your lap. For with the measure you use it will be measured back to you” (Luke 6:37-38).
What you dish out will come back to you, whether its commendation or condemnation, whether its compliments or criticism. What you dish out will come back to you, whether its grace or blame.
Jud Wilhite is pastor of Central Christian Church in Las Vegas. In his book Uncensored Grace, he tells the story of Cody Huff, one of his church members. Before Cody became a member of the church, he was sleeping in an open field next to the church. Before that, Cody was making loads of money as a famous bass pro fisherman who had been featured on ESPN.
Then crack cocaine got a hold of him. His addiction to crack led him to smoke up $600,000 worth of savings, his house, his Harley, and his new boat. A man who had eaten at the finest of restaurants and socialized with celebrities smoked away everything he had and ended up homeless.