Introduction God designed us with amazing attributes that transcend the animal kingdom.  For example, we have the ability to: Communicate   in   various   ways.      We   can   speak   verbally,   non-verbally,   via   sign   language,   via   technology,   in   more than one language, and by prayer. Analyze    things    based    upon    different    viewpoints.         We    are    able    to    look    at    things    from    multiple angles—including identification of weighted benefits and costs. Recognize   right   from   wrong.       Interesting   point…reflect   upon   your   “right   from   wrong   list”   before   and   after   you accepted Jesus Christ as your Savior and Lord. Make free-will decisions.   We are self-directed individuals who make choices in life. Experience wide range of emotions —from anger to love, and everything in-between. Respond   with   gratitude.       Let’s   say   someone   recognizes   you   have   a   need,   and   fills   your   need   without   a   request by   you   and   without   any   expectation   of   reimbursement.      Do   you   have   a   desire   to   say   thank   you,   with   the   hope   of returning the favor in some way?  Reflect   with   remorse   /   guilt.       When   looking   in   the   past,   we   sometimes   experience   regret   or   guilt   for   what   we failed to do, or did do.   Forgive.       Forgiveness   is   more   powerful   than   we   realize.      It   has   the   ability   to   break   the   chains   that   bind   us   to   sin, and can open our heart to experience God’s love when we forgive others (including ourselves). Express   faith.       We   have   an   ability   to   have   faith   in   those   whom   we   love   and   trust.      But   more   important,   having faith   in   God   is   the   foundational   component   of   Christianity.      But   without   faith   it   is   impossible   to   please   Him,   for   he who comes to God must believe that He is, and that He is a rewarder of those who diligently seek Him.  Heb 11:6 Perform self-awareness and self-analysis: o Self-awareness is the conscious knowledge of our behavior, character, feelings, and desires. o Self-analysis is an effort to understand who we are and the reasons why we do what we do. Our   ability   to   “look   inside   ourselves”   and   reflect   upon   our   past   and   present   thoughts   and   behavior—including   the consequential   impact   upon   ourselves   and   others—plays   an   important   role   in   growing   and   maturing   in   Christ.      But   more important,   cognition   of   self   foundationally   supports   the   other   attributes   of   our   design.      To   reinforce   this   point,   imagine what   we   would   be   like   if   we   lacked   self-awareness   and   self-analysis:   if   we   were   not   aware   of   our   behavior,   character, emotions, and desires; and if we lacked the ability to analyze who we are, and identify motives that drive what we do.  Would we know right from wrong? Would we feel guilt, shame or remorse when we sin? What impact would this have on our ability to: o Pray? o Have and express faith? o Forgive others? o Express thankfulness/gratitude? o Love someone (including God)? Here   is   a   question   for   those   who   believe   in   evolution…please   explain   the   evolutionary/transitional   process   for   the   above attributes   between   the   animal   kingdom   and   man.      The   answer   becomes   even   more   difficult   when   you   realize   all   of   our design attributes are not physical, but spiritual. God is Spirit, and those who worship Him must worship in spirit and truth.  John 4:24 Because   of   our   design   attributes   of   self-awareness   and   self-analysis,   we   have   a   propensity   (tendency, inclination) to use these capabilities to judge (form opinions of) other persons.  When   we   judge   someone,   we   receive   information   via   our   eyes   and/or   ears.      We   then   evaluate   the information;   compare   the   information   against   ourselves,   what   we   have   been   told,   what   we   know   from experience   and/or   have   formally   learned;   segment   the   information   into   what   we   like/dislike;   form   an opinion;   and   make   a   conclusion…sometime   within   seconds.      What’s   interesting,   we   execute   judgments many times throughout our day—often without awareness.  Unfortunately,   many   times   we   develop   an   incorrect   opinion   due   to   a   variety   of   undesirable   factors,   such   as   a   hardened self-centered   heart,   a   tainted   soul   and   a   distorted   perception   of   the   world.      Our   misguided   conclusions   are   compounded by the fact that: 1 . Many do not seek understanding beyond initial impressions.  2 . It is difficult to: a.   See through a mask someone may be wearing, and persona they may be projecting. b.   Look directly into their heart...for this is where God evaluates the true nature of a person. For   the   Lord   does   not   see   as   man   sees;   for   man   looks   at   the   outward   appearance,   but   the   Lord   looks   at   the   heart.”      1 Samuel 16:7 Why do we incorrectly judge others? Too   often   our   judgments   are   driven   by   our   flesh.      A   flesh-driven   judgment   includes   inappropriate   thoughts,   negative emotions,   caustic   words   you’d   like   to   say   (or   did   say),   and   visualized   (or   actualized)   behavior   that   is   intended   to “educate”   whom   we   are   judging.      We   can   all   relate   to   (and   struggle   with)   these   occurrences.      For   example,   consider your thoughts, emotions, words and behavior when you encountered: An overly-aggressive driver. A bad-tempered employee (at work/shopping). Someone who has said/done something to you that was inappropriate. Someone who stands for/promotes something you strongly disagree with. Think about it…you will identify additional scenarios. Our   ability   to   accurately   view   someone   (from   God’s   perspective)   may   be   distorted   by   a   multitude   of   influencing variables, including: Prejudices:   Prejudices   are   preconceived   opinions   (often   negative)   which   are   not   based   upon   reason   and/or actual experience. Family:   Much   of   how   we   perceive   the   world   around   us   was   initially   formed   during   our   childhood   by   our   parents and family members. Friends:   We   may   incorporate   the   perceptions   of   others   in   order   to   be   “accepted”   or   as   a   consequence   of   an association with a group. Cultural   norms:   Small   and   large   social   groups   have   shared   expectations   and   rules   that   define   “acceptable” behavior. The media.  Television, movies, social media, and news significantly influence our perception of the world. Combine   the   above   influences   with   the   scars   from   our   past   painful   experiences,   ongoing   challenges   in   life,   and   our sinful flesh…and it becomes easier to understand why we should avoid judging others In   addition,   judging   someone   via   our   flesh   often   results   in   internal   conflict   because   we   know   our   judgmental   thoughts   do not   align   with   the   desires   of   God.      What’s   more,   we   will   often   judge   someone   for   something   we   are   (or   have   been)   guilty of.  This is why God warns us against judging others.   But   why   do   you   judge   your   brother?   Or   why   do   you   show   contempt   for   your   brother?      For   we   shall   all   stand   before   the judgment   seat   of   Christ.      For   it   is   written:   “As   I   live,   says   the   LORD,   every   knee   shall   bow   to   Me,   and   every   tongue   shall confess   to   God.”      So,   then   each   of   us   shall   give   account   of   himself   to   God.      Therefore,   let   us   not   judge   one   another anymore, but rather resolve this, not to put a stumbling block or a cause to fall in our brother’s way.  Romans 14:10-13 Judge   not,   that   you   be   not   judged.      For   with   what   judgment   you   judge,   you   will   be   judged;   and   with   the   measure   you use,   it   will   be   measured   back   to   you.     And   why   do   you   look   at   the   speck   in   your   brother’s   eye,   but   do   not   consider   the plank   in   your   own   eye?      Or   how   can   you   say   to   your   brother,   ‘Let   me   remove   the   speck   from   your   eye’;   and   look,   a plank   is   in   your   own   eye?      Hypocrite!   First   remove   the   plank   from   your   own   eye,   and   then   you   will   see   clearly   to   remove the speck from your brother’s eye.  Matthew 7:1-5 Here   is   an   insightful   video   that   reveals   pitfalls   in   judging   others.      (Use   approved   by   www.OpenTheMeeting.com.)     https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=aEuqMlv02aw External Indicators and Internal Influencers Unfortunately,   the   following   idiom   is   fairly   accurate:   “You’ll   never   get   a   second   chance   to   make   a   first   impression.”      Most persons   will   form   a   lasting   opinion   of   someone   during   the   initial   moments   of   the   first   interaction—based   upon   external indicators.  External indicators include: Our behavior. What we say and how we say it. How we are dressed. Our physical mannerisms (including facial expressions) The degree of our eye contact. However,   external   indicators   often   do   not   reveal   the   true   nature   of   a   person.      Many   times,   external   indicators   are   used as   a   means   to   conceal   who   we   really   are.      Sometimes   a   person   will   wear   a   “mask”   (e.g.   a   happy   face   when   they   are sad), or project a persona (façade, personality) to hide the truth that underlies the surface. Internal   influencers   are   factors   in   our   lives   that   drive   our   behavior   and   perception   from   within.      Internal   influencers indwell within the core of our heart and soul—and can influence all aspects of our life.  Internal influencers include: Scars   from   traumatic   experiences   we   may   have   had   (or   are   presently   experiencing)   in   our   life.      A   traumatic   life experience may include something we: o Should not have experienced, such as: Physical / mental abuse. A broken home (separated parents, etc.). o Should have experienced (but did not), such as: Loving and supportive parents/family. Realization and reinforcement of self-worth and capabilities. Our ongoing emotional responses to life’s stresses, fears, anxiety, and so forth. Sin and its consequences, such as: o Bondage to the sin. o An inability to see or understand spiritual truths because of darkness. While   it   is   fairly   easy   to   see,   understand   and   interpret   external   indicators;   it   is   very   difficult   to   see,   understand   and interpret   internal   influencers.      Identification   of   internal   influencers   requires   time,   prayer,   a   trusted   relationship   and spiritual   discernment.      As   we   gain   understanding   of   what’s   going   on   under   the   surface   of   a   person   is   when   our   initial opinions   will   change…as   we   realize   the   one   whom   I   am   harboring   judgmental   thoughts   towards   is   like   me…for   I   am also   dealing   (or   have   dealt)   with   traumatic   experiences.      He/she   is   like   me   in   that   I   also   express   negative   behavioral and   verbal   responses   to   stress,   fears,   and   anxiety.     And,   he/she   is   like   me   in   that   I   was   also   in   darkness—unable   to   see truth   because   of   sin   that   once   controlled   me   from   within.      Everything   I   based   my   judgment   upon…I   have   also experienced at various times in my life.  As such , “Lord forgive me…for I was wrong in how I judged this person.” Spiritual Discernment A   true   and   accurate   understanding   of   what’s   going   on   inside   a   person’s   heart   and   soul   can   only   occur   spiritually   by   the Holy   Spirit.      When   this   revelation   occurs,   the   experience   is   accompanied   by   agape   love:   a   deep   compassion   and empathy   for   the   heart   and   soul   of   the   person   whom   is   revealed.     This   is   when   you   can   feel   their   pain.     This   is   when   you no   longer   have   control   over   your   emotions   as   tears   begin   to   rise   from   deep   within   your   soul   as   you   cry   for   their condition.  This is when you are spiritually influenced by the overwhelming power of the Holy Spirit.  This is only a “taste” of the compassion Jesus had for the multitudes, and the love God has towards us. Those who have had this experience find it difficult to describe from a physical perspective, because it is spiritual. When the Holy Spirit moves through you: o The control and influence of your sinful flesh vanishes. o Earthly factors that seemed important just a short time ago disappear. o As    you    wipe    away    your    tears    you    realize    you    are    enveloped    in    a    degree    of    peace    that    passes    all understanding.  Philippians 4:7 o This   is   when   you   begin   to   truly   worship   God   from   the   depths   of   your   heart   and   soul   for   who   He   is,   for   His holiness, for His love, and for His Son who died for us. o This is when G od’s perfect love can flow through you. What to Do As   you   go   about   your   day,   in   the   “background”   of   your   mind,   take   time   to   consider   if   you   judge   others   and   ask yourself…are   my   judgments   based   upon   my   flesh,   or   are   my   perceptions   influenced   by   the   workings   of   the   Holy   Spirit?     If   you   discover   you   are   led   by   your   flesh,   then   this   is   an   area   in   which   you   can   improve.      By   the   way,   this   is   an   area   in which all of us can improve. The   comparative   table   below   will   assist   in   identifying   your   position   in   judging   others.      Please   note   that   it   is   not   intended to   be   a   “hammer,”   or   a   list   of   thou   shall   and   thou   shall   nots.      In   addition,   it   is   not   intended   to   be   used   to   judge   someone else.      It   is   intended   for   you   as   a   means   to   assist   in   your   continued   growth   in   righteousness,   as   you   become   less   like yourself and more like Jes us. When   we   encounter   someone   who   is   lost   and   living   in   darkness…the   best   thing   we   can   do   is   not   allow   our   flesh   to judge…but   let   the   light   of   Jesus   shine   through   us   in   what   we   say   and   do.      His   light   is   magnified   by   extending   the   same grace God extends to us; and by expressing the same love God expresses toward us. The   life   of   Jesus   Christ   reflected   the   heart   of   God.      But   what’s   more,   Jesus   Christ   exposed   the   errors   in   human judgment;    turned    religious    leader’s    perceptions    inside    out;    confounded    their    darkened    minds    with    spiritual    truth; revealed the influence and importance of our heart; exemplified judgment and grace; and declared His divine purpose. Early   in   the   morning   He   came   again   into   the   temple,   and   all   the   people   came   to   Him;   and   He   sat   down   and   taught them.      Then   the   scribes   and   Pharisees   brought   to   Him   a   woman   caught   in   adultery.     And   when   they   had   set   her   in   the midst,   they   said   to   Him,   “Teacher,   this   woman   was   caught   in   adultery,   in   the   very   act.      Moses,   in   the   law,   commanded us   that   such   should   be   stoned.      But   what   do   You   say?”      This   they   said,   testing   Him,   that   they   might   have   something   of which   to   accuse   Him.      But   Jesus   stooped   down   and   wrote   on   the   ground   with   His   finger,   as   though   He   did   not   hear.      So when   they   continued   asking   Him,   He   raised   Himself   up   and   said   to   them,   “He   who   is   without   sin   among   you,   let   him throw   a   stone   at   her   first.”      And   again   He   stooped   down   and   wrote   on   the   ground.      Then   those   who   heard   it,   being convicted   by   their   conscience,   went   out   one   by   one,   beginning   with   the   oldest   even   to   the   last.      And   Jesus   was   left alone,   and   the   woman   standing   in   the   midst.      When   Jesus   had   raised   Himself   up   and   saw   no   one   but   the   woman,   He said   to   her,   “Woman,   where   are   those   accusers   of   yours?      Has   no   one   condemned   you?”   She   said,   “No   one,   Lord.”     And   Jesus   said   to   her,   “Neither   do   I   condemn   you;   go   and   sin   no   more.”      Then   Jesus   spoke   to   them   again,   saying,   “I am the light of the world. He who follows Me shall not walk in darkness, but have the light of life.”  John 8:2-12 The   world   is   living   in   darkness   and   sin—which   is   illuminated   by   truth   and   light   of   Jesus   Christ.      I n   Him   was   life,   and   the life was the light of men.  And the light shines in the darkness, and the darkness did not comprehend it.  John 1:4 They   do   not   know.      They   do   not   understand.      Yet   they   continue   to   make   a   choice   to   fill   the   void   within   their   heart   and soul by following the desires of their flesh. He   who   believes   in   Him   is   not   condemned;   but   he   who   does   not   believe   is   condemned   already,   because   he   has   not believed   in   the   name   of   the   only   begotten   Son   of   God.      And   this   is   the   condemnation,   that   the   light   has   come   into   the world,   and   men   loved   darkness   rather   than   light,   because   their   deeds   were   evil.      For   everyone   practicing   evil   hates   the light   and   does   not   come   to   the   light,   lest   his   deeds   should   be   exposed.      But   he   who   does   the   truth   comes   to   the   light, that his deeds may be clearly seen, that they have been done in God.”  John 3:18-21 Think   back   in   time.      Does   this   describe   you?      Were   you   bound   by   sin   and   lost   in   darkness?      Consider   the   different   ways you   attempted   to   fill   the   void   in   your   heart   and   soul   via   the   darkened   desires   of   your   flesh.      But   praise   God   in   that   He provided   a   means   to   turn   our   direction   from   the   destructive   path   we   were   headed—when   we   opened   the   door   for   Jesus Christ to enter our lives. Behold,   I   stand   at   the   door   and   knock.      If   anyone   hears   My   voice   and   opens   the   door,   I   will   come   in   to   him   and   dine   with him, and he with Me.  Revelation 3:20 All   Christians   who   have   given   their   lives   to   Jesus   Christ   will   testify   to   this   truth.      Therefore,   for   the   glory   of   our   Savior and    Lord…it    is    beneficial    to    consider    the    detrimental    effects    of    fleshly-driven    judgment    and    actively    elevate    our perception    of    others    via    prayer,    biblical    understanding,    Holy    Spirit-directed    spiritual    discernment—and    most important—God’s agape love. Though   I   speak   with   the   tongues   of   men   and   of   angels,   but   have   not   love,   I   have   become   sounding   brass   or   a   clanging cymbal.     And   though   I   have   the   gift   of   prophecy,   and   understand   all   mysteries   and   all   knowledge,   and   though   I   have   all faith,   so   that   I   could   remove   mountains,   but   have   not   love,   I   am   nothing.     And   though   I   bestow   all   my   goods   to   feed   the poor, and though I give my body to be burned, but have not love, it profits me nothing.  1 Corr 13:1-3 What do I do if someone has hurt me (physically/emotionally)? If you are in judgment of someone who has hurt you: Yes, what they did was absolutely wrong…and God will judge. Realize the futility of pride and retribution. Reflect   upon   the   greatest   example   of   non-judgment   and   agape   love   throughout   all   of   time—demonstrated   by Jesus   after   He   had   been   mocked,   beaten,   and   nailed   to   a   cross   when   He   said   “Father,   forgive   them,   for   they   do not know what they do.”  Luke 23:34 Let go of the pain from the memories and scars—for these only hinder your freedom and spiritual growth. Forgive   as   you   have   been   forgiven   and   do   this   for   your   healing   and   recovery.      Forgiveness   is   more   powerful   than we realize.  Forgiveness can: o Break the power that sin has in our lives. o Dissolve hatred, anger, rage, bitterness, and judgment. o Overcome depression and anxiety. o Renew personal and relational conflicts. o Pray!      The   Holy   Spirit   is   the   only   One   who   knows   how   to   cleanse,   soften,   rejuvenate,   redirect,   and   make   a person’s heart alive again…all by the supernatural power of God’s grace in Jesus. Growing   in   Christ   is   a   day-to-day   learning   process.     As   we   learn   more   about   Him…we   learn   more   about   ourselves…for He truly is the light of man. I pray you grow in grace and peace as you learn more about yourself…and our Savior and Lord, Jesus Christ. All for His Glory, Harold D. Thomas
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Introduction God   designed   us   with   amazing   attributes   that   transcend the animal kingdom.  For example, we have the ability to: Communicate   in   various   ways.      We   can   speak verbally,     non-verbally,     via     sign     language,     via technology,    in    more    than    one    language,    and    by prayer. Analyze   things   based   upon   different   viewpoints.      We     are     able     to     look     at     things     from     multiple angles—including   identification   of   weighted   benefits and costs. Recognize      right      from      wrong.             Interesting point…reflect   upon   your   “right   from   wrong   list”   before and   after   you   accepted   Jesus   Christ   as   your   Savior and Lord. Make    free-will    decisions.         We    are    self-directed individuals who make choices in life. Experience   wide   range   of   emotions —from   anger to love, and everything in-between. Respond    with    gratitude.         Let’s    say    someone recognizes    you    have    a    need,    and    fills    your    need without     a     request     by     you     and     without     any expectation    of    reimbursement.        Do    you    have    a desire   to   say   thank   you,   with   the   hope   of   returning the favor in some way?  Reflect   with   remorse   /   guilt.       When   looking   in   the past,   we   sometimes   experience   regret   or   guilt   for what we failed to do, or did do.   Forgive.         Forgiveness    is    more    powerful    than    we realize.      It   has   the   ability   to   break   the   chains   that bind   us   to   sin,   and   can   open   our   heart   to   experience God’s     love     when     we     forgive     others     (including ourselves). Express   faith.       We   have   an   ability   to   have   faith   in those   whom   we   love   and   trust.      But   more   important, having   faith   in   God   is   the   foundational   component   of Christianity.        But    without    faith    it    is    impossible    to please   Him,   for   he   who   comes   to   God   must   believe that   He   is,   and   that   He   is   a   rewarder   of   those   who diligently seek Him.  Hebrews 11:6 Perform self-awareness and self-analysis: o Self-awareness    is    the    conscious    knowledge    of our behavior, character, feelings, and desires. o Self-analysis   is   an   effort   to   understand   who   we are and the reasons why we do what we do. Our   ability   to   “look   inside   ourselves”   and   reflect   upon   our past   and   present   thoughts   and   behavior—including   the consequential   impact   upon   ourselves   and   others—plays an   important   role   in   growing   and   maturing   in   Christ.      But more   important,   cognition   of   self   foundationally   supports the   other   attributes   of   our   design.      To   reinforce   this   point, imagine    what    we    would    be    like    if    we    lacked    self- awareness   and   self-analysis:   if   we   were   not   aware   of   our behavior,    character,    emotions,    and    desires;    and    if    we lacked   the   ability   to   analyze   who   we   are,   and   identify motives that drive what we do.  Would we know right from wrong? Would we feel guilt, shame or remorse when we sin? What impact would this have on our ability to: o Pray? o Have and express faith? o Forgive others? o Express thankfulness/gratitude? o Love someone (including God)? Here     is     a     question     for     those     who     believe     in evolution…please    explain    the    evolutionary/transitional process    for    the    above    attributes    between    the    animal kingdom   and   man.      The   answer   becomes   even   more difficult   when   you   realize   all   of   our   design   attributes   are not physical, but spiritual. God is Spirit, and those who worship Him must worship in spirit and truth.  John 4:24 Because   of   our   design   attributes   of   self-awareness   and self-analysis,   we   have   a   propensity   (tendency,   inclination) to   use   these   capabilities   to   judge   (form   opinions   of)   other persons.  When   we   judge   someone,   we   receive   information   via   our eyes    and/or    ears.        We    then    evaluate    the    information; compare    the    information    against    ourselves,    what    we have   been   told,   what   we   know   from   experience   and/or have   formally   learned;   segment   the   information   into   what we      like/dislike;      form      an      opinion;      and      make      a conclusion…sometime       within       seconds.              What’s interesting,      we      execute      judgments      many      times throughout our day—often without awareness.  Unfortunately,    many    times    we    develop    an    incorrect opinion   due   to   a   variety   of   undesirable   factors,   such   as   a hardened    self-centered    heart,    a    tainted    soul    and    a distorted     perception     of     the     world.          Our     misguided conclusions are compounded by the fact that: 1 . Many    do    not    seek    understanding    beyond    initial impressions.  2 . It is difficult to: a.         See   through   a   mask   someone   may   be   wearing, and persona they may be projecting. b.         Look   directly   into   their   heart...for   this   is   where God evaluates the true nature of a person. For   the   Lord   does   not   see   as   man   sees;   for   man   looks   at the   outward   appearance,   but   the   Lord   looks   at   the   heart.”     1 Samuel 16:7 Why do we incorrectly judge others? Too   often   our   judgments   are   driven   by   our   flesh.     A   flesh- driven      judgment      includes      inappropriate      thoughts, negative   emotions,   caustic   words   you’d   like   to   say   (or   did say),    and    visualized    (or    actualized)    behavior    that    is intended   to   “educate”   whom   we   are   judging.      We   can   all relate    to    (and    struggle    with)    these    occurrences.        For example,   consider   your   thoughts,   emotions,   words   and behavior when you encountered: An overly-aggressive driver. A bad-tempered employee (at work/shopping). Someone   who   has   said/done   something   to   you   that was inappropriate. Someone   who   stands   for/promotes   something   you strongly disagree with. Think about it…you will identify additional scenarios. Our    ability    to    accurately    view    someone    (from    God’s perspective)     may     be     distorted     by     a     multitude     of influencing variables, including: Prejudices:    Prejudices    are    preconceived    opinions (often   negative)   which   are   not   based   upon   reason and/or actual experience. Family:   Much   of   how   we   perceive   the   world   around us   was   initially   formed   during   our   childhood   by   our parents and family members. Friends:    We    may    incorporate    the    perceptions    of others     in     order     to     be     “accepted”     or     as     a consequence of an association with a group. Cultural   norms:   Small   and   large   social   groups   have shared      expectations      and      rules      that      define “acceptable” behavior. The     media.          Television,     movies,     and     news significantly influence our perception of the world. Combine   the   above   influences   with   the   scars   from   our past   painful   experiences,   ongoing   challenges   in   life,   and our   sinful   flesh…and   it   becomes   easier   to   understand why we should avoid judging others In   addition,   judging   someone   via   our   flesh   often   results   in internal     conflict     because     we     know     our     judgmental thoughts   do   not   align   with   the   desires   of   God.      What’s more,   we   will   often   judge   someone   for   something   we   are (or    have    been)    guilty    of.       This    is    why    God    warns    us against judging others.   But   why   do   you   judge   your   brother?   Or   why   do   you   show contempt   for   your   brother?      For   we   shall   all   stand   before the   judgment   seat   of   Christ.      For   it   is   written:   “As   I   live, says   the   LORD,   every   knee   shall   bow   to   Me,   and   every tongue   shall   confess   to   God.”      So,   then   each   of   us   shall give   account   of   himself   to   God.      Therefore,   let   us   not judge   one   another   anymore,   but   rather   resolve   this,   not   to put   a   stumbling   block   or   a   cause   to   fall   in   our   brother’s way.  Romans 14:10-13 Judge    not,    that    you    be    not    judged.        For    with    what judgment   you   judge,   you   will   be   judged;   and   with   the measure   you   use,   it   will   be   measured   back   to   you.      And why   do   you   look   at   the   speck   in   your   brother’s   eye,   but do   not   consider   the   plank   in   your   own   eye?      Or   how   can you   say   to   your   brother,   ‘Let   me   remove   the   speck   from your    eye’;    and    look,    a    plank    is    in    your    own    eye?    Hypocrite!   First   remove   the   plank   from   your   own   eye,   and then   you   will   see   clearly   to   remove   the   speck   from   your brother’s eye.  Matthew 7:1-5 Here   is   an   insightful   video   that   reveals   pitfalls   in   judging others.      (Use   approved   by   www.OpenTheMeeting.com.)     https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=aEuqMlv02aw External Indicators and Internal Influencers Unfortunately,   the   following   idiom   is   fairly   accurate:   “You’ll never   get   a   second   chance   to   make   a   first   impression.”     Most    persons    will    form    a    lasting    opinion    of    someone during   the   initial   moments   of   the   first   interaction—based upon external indicators.  External indicators include: Our behavior. What we say and how we say it. How we are dressed. Our       physical       mannerisms       (including       facial expressions) The degree of our eye contact. However,   external   indicators   often   do   not   reveal   the   true nature   of   a   person.      Many   times,   external   indicators   are used    as    a    means    to    conceal    who    we    really    are.    Sometimes   a   person   will   wear   a   “mask”   (e.g.   a   happy face   when   they   are   sad),   or   project   a   persona   (façade, personality) to hide the truth that underlies the surface. Internal   influencers   are   factors   in   our   lives   that   drive   our behavior   and   perception   from   within.      Internal   influencers indwell   within   the   core   of   our   heart   and   soul—and   can influence    all    aspects    of    our    life.        Internal    influencers include: Scars   from   traumatic   experiences   we   may   have   had (or    are    presently    experiencing)    in    our    life.        A traumatic life experience may include something we: o Should not have experienced, such as: Physical / mental abuse. A broken home (separated parents, etc.). o Should have experienced (but did not), such as: Loving and supportive parents/family. Realization   and   reinforcement   of   self-worth   and capabilities. Our   ongoing   emotional   responses   to   life’s   stresses, fears, anxiety, and so forth. Sin and its consequences, such as: o Bondage to the sin. o An   inability   to   see   or   understand   spiritual   truths because of darkness. While   it   is   fairly   easy   to   see,   understand   and   interpret external   indicators;   it   is   very   difficult   to   see,   understand and   interpret   internal   influencers.      Identification   of   internal influencers   requires   time,   prayer,   a   trusted   relationship and   spiritual   discernment.      As   we   gain   understanding   of what’s   going   on   under   the   surface   of   a   person   is   when our   initial   opinions   will   change…as   we   realize   the   one whom   I   am   harboring   judgmental   thoughts   towards   is   like me…for   I   am   also   dealing   (or   have   dealt)   with   traumatic experiences.      He/she   is   like   me   in   that   I   also   express negative    behavioral    and    verbal    responses    to    stress, fears,   and   anxiety.      And,   he/she   is   like   me   in   that   I   was also   in   darkness—unable   to   see   truth   because   of   sin   that once   controlled   me   from   within.      Everything   I   based   my judgment   upon…I   have   also   experienced   at   various   times in   my   life.     As   such ,   “Lord   forgive   me…for   I   was   wrong   in how I judged this person.” Spiritual Discernment A   true   and   accurate   understanding   of   what’s   going   on inside   a   person’s   heart   and   soul   can   only   occur   spiritually by    the    Holy    Spirit.        When    this    revelation    occurs,    the experience    is    accompanied    by    agape    love:    a    deep compassion   and   empathy   for   the   heart   and   soul   of   the person   whom   is   revealed.     This   is   when   you   can   feel   their pain.      This   is   when   you   no   longer   have   control   over   your emotions   as   tears   begin   to   rise   from   deep   within   your soul   as   you   cry   for   their   condition.      This   is   when   you   are spiritually   influenced   by   the   overwhelming   power   of   the Holy Spirit.  This   is   only   a   “taste”   of   the   compassion   Jesus   had for the multitudes, and the love God has towards us. Those   who   have   had   this   experience   find   it   difficult to   describe   from   a   physical   perspective,   because   it   is spiritual. When the Holy Spirit moves through you: o The    control    and    influence    of    your    sinful    flesh vanishes. o Earthly   factors   that   seemed   important   just   a   short time ago disappear. o As   you   wipe   away   your   tears   you   realize   you   are enveloped   in   a   degree   of   peace   that   passes   all understanding.  Philippians 4:7 o This   is   when   you   begin   to   truly   worship   God   from the   depths   of   your   heart   and   soul   for   who   He   is, for   His   holiness,   for   His   love,   and   for   His   Son   who died for us. o This   is   when   G od’s   perfect   love   can   flow   through you. What to Do As   you   go   about   your   day,   in   the   “background”   of   your mind,   take   time   to   consider   if   you   judge   others   and   ask yourself…are   my   judgments   based   upon   my   flesh,   or   are my   perceptions   influenced   by   the   workings   of   the   Holy Spirit?      If   you   discover   you   are   led   by   your   flesh,   then   this is   an   area   in   which   you   can   improve.      By   the   way,   this   is an area in which all of us can improve. The   comparative   table   below   will   assist   in   identifying   your position    in    judging    others.        Please    note    that    it    is    not intended   to   be   a   “hammer,”   or   a   list   of   thou   shall   and   thou shall   nots.      In   addition,   it   is   not   intended   to   be   used   to judge   someone   else.      It   is   intended   for   you   as   a   means   to assist   in   your   continued   growth   in   righteousness,   as   you become less like yourself and more like Jes us. When   we   encounter   someone   who   is   lost   and   living   in darkness…the   best   thing   we   can   do   is   not   allow   our   flesh to   judge…but   let   the   light   of   Jesus   shine   through   us   in what   we   say   and   do.      His   light   is   magnified   by   extending the   same   grace   God   extends   to   us;   and   by   expressing the same love God expresses toward us. The   life   of   Jesus   Christ   reflected   the   heart   of   God.      But what’s   more,   Jesus   Christ   exposed   the   errors   in   human judgment;    turned    religious    leader’s    perceptions    inside out;   confounded   their   darkened   minds   with   spiritual   truth; revealed    the    influence    and    importance    of    our    heart; exemplified   judgment   and   grace;   and   declared   His   divine purpose. Early   in   the   morning   He   came   again   into   the   temple,   and all   the   people   came   to   Him;   and   He   sat   down   and   taught them.      Then   the   scribes   and   Pharisees   brought   to   Him   a woman   caught   in   adultery.     And   when   they   had   set   her   in the   midst,   they   said   to   Him,   “Teacher,   this   woman   was caught   in   adultery,   in   the   very   act.      Moses,   in   the   law, commanded   us   that   such   should   be   stoned.      But   what   do You   say?”      This   they   said,   testing   Him,   that   they   might have    something    of    which    to    accuse    Him.        But    Jesus stooped   down   and   wrote   on   the   ground   with   His   finger,   as though   He   did   not   hear.      So   when   they   continued   asking Him,   He   raised   Himself   up   and   said   to   them,   “He   who   is without   sin   among   you,   let   him   throw   a   stone   at   her   first.”     And   again   He   stooped   down   and   wrote   on   the   ground.     Then    those    who    heard    it,    being    convicted    by    their conscience,    went    out    one    by    one,    beginning    with    the oldest   even   to   the   last.     And   Jesus   was   left   alone,   and   the woman   standing   in   the   midst.      When   Jesus   had   raised Himself   up   and   saw   no   one   but   the   woman,   He   said   to her,   “Woman,   where   are   those   accusers   of   yours?      Has no   one   condemned   you?”   She   said,   “No   one,   Lord.”     And Jesus   said   to   her,   “Neither   do   I   condemn   you;   go   and   sin no   more.”      Then   Jesus   spoke   to   them   again,   saying,   “I am   the   light   of   the   world.   He   who   follows   Me   shall   not walk in darkness, but have the light of life.”  John 8:2-12 The    world    is    living    in    darkness    and    sin—which    is illuminated   by   truth   and   light   of   Jesus   Christ.      I n   Him   was life,   and   the   life   was   the   light   of   men.     And   the   light   shines in   the   darkness,   and   the   darkness   did   not   comprehend   it.     John 1:4 They   do   not   know.      They   do   not   understand.      Yet   they continue   to   make   a   choice   to   fill   the   void   within   their   heart and soul by following the desires of their flesh. He   who   believes   in   Him   is   not   condemned;   but   he   who does   not   believe   is   condemned   already,   because   he   has not   believed   in   the   name   of   the   only   begotten   Son   of God.      And   this   is   the   condemnation,   that   the   light   has come   into   the   world,   and   men   loved   darkness   rather   than light,    because    their    deeds    were    evil.        For    everyone practicing   evil   hates   the   light   and   does   not   come   to   the light,   lest   his   deeds   should   be   exposed.      But   he   who   does the   truth   comes   to   the   light,   that   his   deeds   may   be   clearly seen, that they have been done in God.”  John 3:18-21 Think   back   in   time.      Does   this   describe   you?      Were   you bound   by   sin   and   lost   in   darkness?      Consider   the   different ways   you   attempted   to   fill   the   void   in   your   heart   and   soul via   the   darkened   desires   of   your   flesh.      But   praise   God   in that   He   provided   a   means   to   turn   our   direction   from   the destructive   path   we   were   headed—when   we   opened   the door for Jesus Christ to enter our lives. Behold,   I   stand   at   the   door   and   knock.      If   anyone   hears My   voice   and   opens   the   door,   I   will   come   in   to   him   and dine with him, and he with Me.  Revelation 3:20 All   Christians   who   have   given   their   lives   to   Jesus   Christ will   testify   to   this   truth.      Therefore,   for   the   glory   of   our Savior     and     Lord…it     is     beneficial     to     consider     the detrimental   effects   of   fleshly-driven   judgment   and   actively elevate    our    perception    of    others    via    prayer,    biblical understanding,          Holy          Spirit-directed          spiritual discernment—and most important—God’s agape love. Though   I   speak   with   the   tongues   of   men   and   of   angels, but   have   not   love,   I   have   become   sounding   brass   or   a clanging   cymbal.     And   though   I   have   the   gift   of   prophecy, and    understand    all    mysteries    and    all    knowledge,    and though   I   have   all   faith,   so   that   I   could   remove   mountains, but   have   not   love,   I   am   nothing.     And   though   I   bestow   all my   goods   to   feed   the   poor,   and   though   I   give   my   body   to be   burned,   but   have   not   love,   it   profits   me   nothing.      1 Corr 13:1-3 What    do    I    do    if    someone    has    hurt    me    (physically and/or emotionally)? If you are in judgment of someone who has hurt you: Yes,   what   they   did   was   absolutely   wrong…and   God will judge. Realize the futility of pride and retribution. Reflect   upon   the   greatest   example   of   non-judgment and         agape         love         throughout         all         of time—demonstrated    by    Jesus    after    He    had    been mocked,   beaten,   and   nailed   to   a   cross   when   He   said “Father,   forgive   them,   for   they   do   not   know   what   they do.”  Luke 23:34 Let   go   of   the   pain   from   the   memories   and   scars—for these only hinder your freedom and spiritual growth. Forgive   as   you   have   been   forgiven   and   do   this   for your    healing    and    recovery.        Forgiveness    is    more powerful than we realize.  Forgiveness can: o Break the power that sin has in our lives. o Dissolve    hatred,    anger,    rage,    bitterness,    and judgment. o Overcome depression and anxiety. o Renew personal and relational conflicts. o Pray!      The   Holy   Spirit   is   the   only   One   who   knows how   to   cleanse,   soften,   rejuvenate,   redirect,   and make    a    person’s    heart    alive    again…all    by    the supernatural power of God’s grace in Jesus. Growing   in   Christ   is   a   day-to-day   learning   process.      As we     learn     more     about     Him…we     learn     more     about ourselves…for He truly is the light of man. I   pray   you   grow   in   grace   and   peace   as   you   learn   more about yourself…and our Savior and Lord, Jesus Christ. All for His Glory, Harold D. Thomas
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