Joyce Meyer - Judgment And Criticism
Before we start giving everybody else lessons, we have to think about what we're not so good at. And everybody's good at a bunch of stuff and everybody is not good at a bunch of stuff. These are, in case you're wondering what this awful-looking red thing is here, I asked them to make these for me and these are my flaw-finder glasses. I think we all have a pair. I just don't think yours maybe are quite as obnoxious as mine are. Of course, I had to make my point.
You know, Dave has binoculars and sometimes he'll sit at a window and he'll look at maybe a deer that's way out across the field or something and it brings it in real close. And so, I got this idea that I could do a take-off on that and say we all have flaw-finder or fault-finder binoculars where we examine people and we look them over real good. How many of you are good at finding the flaws in people? C'mon now, this true confession sets you free. Do you know that before God really got a hold of me, I mean, back when I was a sort of pretend-Christian, you know? Do you know what I loved to do?
I loved to go out to the mall back then and sit on a bench and judge people. Just be a people-watcher and just, you know, "Man, what is that good-looking guy doing with her"? "Man, whoo! That's the craziest hairdo I've ever seen in my life. Hoo, can you believe that outfit she's got on? Man"! How many of you think you have enough business of your own to mind without getting into somebody else's? I'm a real positive person now but it's something I do on purpose. It wouldn't be my natural nature. I could probably find a little something wrong with everything if I didn't just decide not to. You know why? Because there probably is a little something wrong with everything.
If you're looking for the perfect church, the perfect friend, the perfect job, the perfect person to be married to, the perfect teenager, guess what? You're just gonna be disappointed, disappointed, disappointed. So, we need to realize that the Bible teaches us that we are not to be judgmental and critical toward people. And actually, there's a scripture that says we are to mind our own business, stay busy with our own hands and actually there's evidence in the Bible that we are to just keep our opinions to ourself. I'm not gonna stand here and tell you not to have opinions. It's impossible to live in this world and not have an opinion. But we don't have to give our opinion every time we turn around. Because most of the time people don't want it and usually, even if they ask you for your opinion, if you don't agree with what they wanna hear, they're gonna reject it anyway, amen?
Dave and I have been married 50, almost 51, years now and so, you know, by the time you've been married that long you get things worked out between you and we just have this ongoing thing and it happened tonight. He came out and he asked me about his shirt with his coat and his coat is checked and he had a shirt on that had dots, little dots, on it. And I said, "Oh, no, you cannot wear that". Now, I'm still learning to say things a little better, you know? I didn't say, "Oh, honey, well, you look good in absolutely almost anything but that". I just, "Oh, you can't wear that. It's terrible. You can't wear that". And he's, like, "Well, what's wrong with it? A lot of people would like it". And I'm, like, "Why do you even ask me what I think because you're never going to wanna do what I tell you? I don't"...
Don't you get irritated with people who ask you what you think and they really don't wanna know what you think anyway: they just want you to agree with them. Man! If I get up in the morning and say, "Man, sun's gonna shine all day". "No, nope. Forecast says rain. We're gonna get rain". If I say it's gonna rain, he's, "No, we're not, look at that sun outside". And actually, we get along really good.
Judgment and criticism. Well, first of all, is all judgment wrong? Well, I wanna tell you going into this that some of you may not care too much for the first ten minutes of this message. But we need to hear this, so here goes. First of all, unrighteous judgment is definitely always wrong. And what that is, is hasty judgment based on rumor or merely glancing at a situation without knowing all the facts. It's wrong and it's condemned by Jesus.
Let's look at this scripture, John 7:24: "Be honest in your judgment and do not decide at a glance (superficially and by appearances): but judge fairly and righteously". In other words, get to know people. We need to take the time to get to know people before we even venture to have an opinion about what they might be doing. It's so easy to just, like the scripture says, glance at something and quickly form an opinion. Have you ever met somebody and within three minutes you've already decided you don't like 'em? I have. It's like, "Yeah, I don't, no. I'm not gonna like you".
Well, you know what? Sometimes, for a woman, it's because that woman that you're deciding you can't like is better looking than you are or has the figure that you would like to have or maybe for a guy, that guy's got the muscles he'd like to have or the car he'd like to have. It's amazing what we could learn if we would stop long enough to say, "Why do I feel that way? What is the root of what I'm feeling"? I don't know about you but I have been falsely judged by people more times than I'd like to remember. And it is one of the most painful things that you can ever go through.
It's amazing how people will judge what they know absolutely nothing about. And a lot of criticism and judgment is done out of jealousy and a lot of times people judge you for what you have or what you're doing and it's all based out of jealousy and I just tell people all the time, "Don't judge me for what I have if you don't wanna do what I did to get it", amen. So that kind of judgment is always wrong. If we're gonna have an opinion about anything it needs to be a well-informed opinion and that takes time. Time. But if we see a Christian sinning (I'm not talking about the world), if we see a Christian sinning, we are to go to him and confront the situation in hopes of bringing him to a place of repentance.
Now, actually, Paul said in 1 Corinthians 5 and I don't know how much you're aware of these scriptures 'cause they're probably ones that aren't taught on very much. But he said it's not our place to judge the world. That will be left up to God. But it is our place to judge Christians in the church who are living in sin in order that they might repent and not lose their soul. We stay busy, I think, at this point judging unbelievers who don't know God at all and we're ignoring a lot of sin in the church under the guise of wanting to walk in love and not hurt anybody's feelings. I'm sorry but I think it needs to be said and so I'm gonna say it. And when I say in the church I'm not talking about your church or my church. I'm talking about the church at large.
And so the church is intended to be a holy place where hurting people that are broken and wounded and, yes, have sin in their life and a lot of it, can come in and be repentant and be restored and be nurtured and we can be patient with them and we can love them. But it's not supposed to be a place where somebody comes in who's living in open sin and they don't intend to change it, they don't wanna change it, and they just want to be there and have all the benefits of being there and everybody just leaves them alone and pats them on the head because nobody wants to hurt their feelings. And I'll tell you, here's the reason why Paul said this. Trust me, because I know this message will go on television all over the place, I thought I'd better know what I was talking about before I got up here to do this, so.
The reason why Paul told people, he even went so far as to say, "Put them out of the church, excommunicate them", and the reason why he did it is because whatever you're around you're in danger of becoming like that. Let's just look at it like this. You cannot catch holiness but you can catch unholiness. You can't catch health, that's something you gotta choose, but you can catch disease. You just go sit with somebody, face to face, that's got a bad case of the flu and unless you got a really good system going on in your body, you could catch it. You may not but you could. But you can go sit all day with a healthy person and you'll still have to choose their health.
And so Paul was saying not only do we want them to realize what they're doing so they can repent and come to the knowledge of the truth because we don't want to see them lost, but we don't want them to infect the church and start doing damage because here's the thing. Let's just use the word loosely, "Leadership". If leadership puts up with that, what does it say to the people other than, "Well, I guess it's okay to do this", so then they just decide to do the same thing and, before you know it, you've got a rampant mess going on and the church no longer becomes what God wants it to be.
Now I am not at all saying, and this is where this message, this part of the message, can get a little tricky. I'm not at all saying that we don't work with people for restoration. I'm not talking about people who wanna change. You know, I was such a mess after I got away from my dad and then a bad marriage from the time I was 18 to 23. I'd been hurt so bad, I didn't know how to have any kind of relationship. I had a bad temper, I was manipulative, controlling. I mean, you name it, I had the problem. And I'm grateful that Dave was patient with me and long-suffering and kind and that he continued to love me and love me and love me. And I was not your perfect specimen by any stretch of the imagination. And he would deal with my behavior when my behavior got bad enough, but somehow or another he knew my heart.
He knew that I wanted to change. He knew that I wanted to grow and do better. And I think that's what we have to look for in people. If you're trying to help somebody that just has got a mess of problems in their life and they're having a hard time getting over it, be patient with them if they're wanting to change, if they're wanting to grow. But you can't just not call sin what it is. We can judge sin without judging the person, amen?
Now, Matthew 18:15: "If your brother wrongs you, go and show him his fault", and, boy, we like that part, don't we? "Between you and him privately". Uh-oh. I don't get to go tell anybody else. C'mon, I said, "I don't get to go tell anybody else". I said, "I don't get to go tell anybody else". Well, we've gotta press that point. D'you know how much easier leadership would be if when people work for you and they have a problem with each other they would go to each other instead of to everybody else? Cause you know what it does when you start gossiping? It causes strife.
"Go and tell him his fault, between you and him privately. If he listens, you've won back your brother. If he doesn't listen, take along with you one or two others, so that every word might be confirmed and upheld by the testimony of two or three witnesses. If he still pays no attention refusing to listen, tell it to the church: and if he refuses to listen even to the church, then let him be to you as a pagan and a tax collector". And believe me, they had absolutely nothing to do with pagans and tax collectors.
Now, in 1 Corinthians 5:1-2 Paul wrote and he said, "It is actually reported there's sexual immorality among you, impurity of a sort that is condemned and does not occur even among the heathen: for a man has his own father's wife". So this was a situation of incest and Paul had heard about this and the church apparently, verse 2 says: "And you're proud and arrogant! And you ought rather to mourn (and bow in sorrow and shame) until the person who's done this shameful thing is removed from your fellowship and your midst"!
So here we have somebody that's in an incestuous relationship and they're part of the church and they're functioning as a part of the church and the church is not doing anything about it. Nobody's doing anything about it. And so Paul wrote to them and he said, "Shame on you. You're so proud of yourself about your church". Maybe their church was growing, maybe they have a great worship team. I don't know what the deal was. But they were so proud of their church. He said, "You have nothing to be proud of until you deal with this situation in your church. It has to be dealt with".
Now, you know what? Today we don't see the church as a place to have authority over our lives. But that's actually what it was really supposed to be. Originally, it was supposed to be loving leaders with people who wanted to grow and change who would confront and deal with issues out of love and care and I realize there are so many messed up people out in the world today, it doesn't always work out like that and people get hurt. But we still have to be willing to receive correction if it comes to us with the right spirit and we have to be willing to not think about how we feel or what we want but what the Word of God says. That's all I'm asking. It's not about how I feel or what I want. It's what does the word say. And if the word says it, then I don't need to try to work around it to figure out some way that I can get it to say something else. It just says what it says.
And here's the thing, and I'm not trying to be spooky. The Lord is coming back and every one of us will give an account for our lives and it's our job in leadership to make sure that people are ready, amen? Now, what causes so much judgment and criticism? I bet some of you would know the answer. Starts with a capital "P". Pride, you got it. Pride. The only reason why we judge other people is because we think that we're better. We look at what they're doing and we think we would never do that. Or we think we know more than they do. Pride is the foundation for all unrighteous judgment. How many of you realize that if we critically judge somebody it's almost always because we can do something they can't do? And we just don't understand why they can't do it. But they can't do it if God did not give them the ability to do it.
Now, I'm not talking about your kids not cleaning their room up and that kind of stuff. But even in that, you know, there's gonna be some kids that are gonna be more tidy than others. I mean, I had a daughter that was a first-class slob. I mean, she just, whoo, not had. I still have her. And, oh my gosh, the girl was so messy, it was pathetic. I mean, she couldn't keep up with anything and you know what's funny? She now works for me and helps keep my life organized. Yeah, she's given herself a title. You know what it is? "The momager". She manages mom. And I would have never in my wildest imagination ever thought that, that girl could have ever managed anything, let alone me.
So I'm just telling you right now, if you leave God alone and let him be God, and just pray, you'll be amazed if you're willing to love people where they're at, what God can do to get them to where you would actually like them to be but they never will be if you keep trying to make it happen. 'cause, you know, the more you try to make somebody do something, the more they're not going to want to do it. Has anybody noticed that? It's especially that way with men because of male ego. Oh, I just couldn't help myself. I had to say it. Seven symptoms of pride. A critical person is proud. A fault-finding person is proud. A harsh person, somebody who's just hard on people, who's legalistic and has too many rules and regulations about the way they want everything done. We shouldn't be harsh.
Paul wrote to Timothy and he said, "If you need to correct somebody do it with courtesy and do it with gentleness". So even when we talk about confronting people or talking to them about sin or dealing with them about something, don't ever try to do it unless, number one, you pray first, you make sure it's what God wants you to do, you make sure you have the right timing because I can tell you timing is everything. You don't wanna talk to your man about something when he has gotten stuck in a traffic jam and has been on the highway for two hours and he comes in the door mad and hungry, and that's when you decide to tell him off. It's not gonna work. But I've had instances where I've finally learned I don't just go talk to Dave about anything I want to at any time. I pray first.
Sometimes you pray about it first, God takes care of it and you don't have to do anything. Imagine that, God answers prayer, but then if I wait 'til I feel the time is right, it's amazing how people will listen if you do it the right way but you can't go in with a haughty attitude. So you can't be harsh. Feeling that you need to constantly teach other people or give them advice is a symptom of pride. On the other hand, if we are offended by the advice that people try to give us, then that's pride on our part. An out-of-balance need to correct people is a symptom of pride and having difficulty admitting when you are wrong.
Do you know three of the most important words that we can learn for relationships is "I was wrong"? And you guys need to practice that. I can tell that didn't go over too good. You all looked like I threw a rock at you, like, can you say that? "I was wrong". Okay, let's talk for a minute about rumors. Matter of fact, let's talk about social media and rumors. First of all, 1 Timothy 5:19 says: "Don't listen to an accusation unless it's presented and confirmed by two or three witnesses". That was good. We had a good "Amen" from a man up there.
And then it needs to be reliable witnesses. You know, it took me a while to get here but the first thing I say now when somebody calls me with a stupid story about somebody that I love and admire, "I don't believe that. I don't believe that and I'm not gonna believe that unless I have proof". And I had somebody do that, just, oh, maybe nine months ago, call me and told me that somebody that I know very well did such and such and thus and so and I just said, "I'm sorry but I don't believe that". I said, "You got your story wrong, your information is wrong", and I said, "If I find out they did do it, then I will confront them but I'm not gonna believe it until I check it out for myself".
And so I got right on the phone and I called this person and I said, "This is what I've heard. I don't believe it but I wanna know from you". It was straightened out within a few minutes. I called the first person back and I said, "You were wrong, and don't tell that to anybody else". Now, how much better is that than somebody tells you a rumor and you're, like, "Oh, I can't believe it"! And then the first person you see is, "You are not gonna believe". C'mon, as Christian people we should not be behaving like that. This is some of the stuff that we've gotta get out of the church because it's not God's will for us to behave that way. How much better would it be the next time somebody brings you a rumor about your pastor or, I don't know, me. Maybe you'll hear...
Hey, there was a rumor on social media several months ago that I was dead. Yeah, it was out there big. "Joyce Meyer has died". I mean, we were getting, did you see that? We were getting inundated with calls, and I had to get on social, I had to get on, do a Facebook live thing and say, "I'm not dead. I'm right here". I mean, dumb stuff. Let's just say that somebody says, "Well, I saw the pastor's wife with another man last night". Well, dodo, it could have been her brother. Could have been her cousin. You know, there's something wrong, deeply wrong, inside somebody when they have to say something like that, especially with that kind of a tone. And when you start hearing that kind of stuff from Christians, that's a good indication from somebody that you don't wanna spend a lot of time with and you need to get away from.
And I think that's a situation that it's perfectly right to confront if you know somebody in the church that is a gossip, that spreads rumors, that starts strife, if I were you I would tell them, "That kind of behavior is wrong and I can tell you it's not the kind of person I wanna hang out with". All you're doing is causing trouble. Because if you're party to that, then you become just as guilty as they are. Too many people are hurt by rumors, too many people are hurt by gossip, and so much of what people say, I mean, there may be some thread of something in it, but it gets so blown out of proportion that it doesn't make any sense to anybody and it's very dangerous. Don't listen to rumors.
One man said this: "Rumors are carried by haters, spread by fools, and accepted by idiots. Rumors are carried by haters, spread by fools, and accepted by idiots". Just to give credit where it's due 'cause I didn't come up with that, his last name is spelled A-B-D-E-L-N-O-U-R. I don't wanna say it wrong, so somebody else said it, not me. But that's a good... It's true. You know, we're being foolish whenever we just accept rumors. And we need to be very careful about just listening to stuff.
And there's so much junk on social media today. I mean, it can be used for such good purposes but we better understand that the devil's gonna try to use it too. Don't get on social media and say something bad about somebody else. You don't even need to give your opinion about somebody else on social media. Don't do that. How about this? How about if before we judge anybody else, we examine ourselves a little bit?
I gotta read your favorite scriptures on not judging, Matthew 7:1 through 3: "Do not judge and criticize and condemn others, so that you may not be judged and criticized and condemned yourselves. Just as you judge and criticize and condemn others, you will be judged and criticized and condemned, and in accordance with the measure you use when you deal out to others, it will be dealt out to you again". In other words, what you give out you're gonna get back. Dave puts it like this. When him and i, we joke back and forth a lot and say things. He'll say, "You're putting it on the wheel. And the wheel's gonna come back in your direction". "Why do you stare from without at the very small particle that's in your brother's eye but do not become aware of and consider the beam of timber that is in your own eye"?
It's hypocritical, isn't it, when we judge other people for minor things and we've got huge faults? You know, a lot of times that's just an excuse to not deal with our own issues. My dad was very critical and judgmental and that man was such an unbelievable mess. Oh my gosh, he had so many deep problems in his life but all he ever did was see fault with everybody else. And sometimes, if we stay busy looking at what's wrong with everybody else, we don't have to look at ourselves.
Now, I wanna say a few more things about this thing about opinions and, we have to be very careful that we don't try to put our convictions off on somebody else if those convictions are not necessarily biblical. Give you an example. I had a wonderful aunt. She's gone home to be with the Lord so she's probably gonna hear me talking about her now but everybody's happy in heaven so she can't get mad at me. And she grew up in a pretty strict baptist church and, I mean, she was full-blown religious person, okay? So there was a lot of things that she didn't believe in, and one of them was going to the movies. She didn't believe in going to the movies but yet she would watch movies at home on TV.
It shows you sometimes the foolishness of what just dead dried religion can do to you. But then I remember her saying things to me when I was going to the movies, to try to make me feel guilty: "Going to that movie house. You don't need to go to that movie house". But she'd sit at home and watch movies on TV. She didn't think that I should wear colored eye shadow. So, I mean, this was years ago but people were putting eye shadow all over their whole eyes and I had blue eye shadow on. She said, "Wipe that blue junk off your face. You just look like a hussy. You get that stuff off your face. Just get that off your face".
Well, I can tell you what, you're not gonna go to hell for wearing blue eye shadow, amen? This is the kind of stuff I'm talking about, c'mon. And we all get into this to a little degree, honestly. Can you be honest and say? If we feel strongly convicted about something ourself, it's very easy to try to push that off on everybody else. And we shouldn't do that, not unless we know by scripture that it's sin and even then you can't push. It's gotta be done in love and in the right way.
My aunt didn't believe in playing cards. She didn't believe in dancing. Oh, there was a whole bunch of stuff she didn't believe in. Oh, she wouldn't go in a restaurant that had a bar in it. Didn't matter that she wasn't going to the bar. She would not go in a restaurant that had a bar in it, and I remember one day we invited her to go out and eat somewhere. She was, "I'm not going in that place. They got a bar in there". Well, you know what? She's sweet, she traveled with us for a long time on the road. She kind of came around to a little better way of thinking. But I always think about her when I think about how judgmental people can be.
And you know, Romans chapter 14, if you wanna learn more about this stuff, Romans chapter 14 is perfect. Paul is using the example of eating meat offered to idols because that was a big deal for them. But he said, "Look, the meat isn't, the idol's nothing. It's not even a real thing. So if you have the faith to eat it, eat it because it's really not tainted". But he said, "If you don't have the faith to eat it, then don't eat it. And don't try to push your convictions off on somebody else".
You know, if you wanna eat a certain way that you think is healthy for you, there's nothing wrong with encouraging somebody else but you can't try to make them do what you do. As soon as we start trying to do that, even to our kids, it's gonna backfire and blow up in our face, c'mon. I don't have much longer. You gotta get this.
Now, how should we respond if we're criticized or judged unfairly? Gotta get this part in, right? Well, first of all, if somebody criticizes you, be willing to truly listen, consider whether or not they might be right. Yeah, that's painful just talking about it, isn't it? Cause you know what we usually do? Right away, we get defensive. James 1:19: "Understand this, my beloved brethren. Let every man be quick to hear a ready listener, slow to speak, slow to take offense and slow to get angry". Be a ready listener. If the criticism that they're giving is correct, probably other people have seen the same thing so if you wanna check and see if they are correct, you could go to some other trusted friend and say, "Do you think that I do this"?
My daughter, the one that I said is the momager, I asked her something like that not too long ago 'cause somebody else in the family said, "You do this and this", and I'm, like, "I don't do that. I don't do that". So I said to her the next day, I said, "Do I do that"? She said, "Yep, you do that". Don't criticize in return. Man, I can be so bad about that. Dave will say, "Blah, blah, blah", and then I'm, like, "Well, you, you, you, you, you". And then I say to him. "You, you, you, you, you", and then he's, like, "Well, you, you, you, you". Anybody else do that or is it just me and Dave? Don't we have a hard time loving correction? And yet Proverbs says: "Only a fool hates correction".
I hope that I live long enough to get to the point where I can really appreciate people who correct me. I think I wanna live that long, I don't know. I might be way too old. Let God be your vindicator. No weapon formed against me shall prosper but every tongue that rises up against me in judgment I will show to be in the wrong. No weapon formed against me shall prosper but every tongue that rises up against me in judgment I will show to be in the wrong. You know, Jesus had a cool way of dealing with critics, and I think it's a good thing to leave you with. You know, basically, he just didn't answer 'em. That's the best way to stop an argument. Just don't answer.
Matthew 27:12: "But when the charges were made against him by the chief priests and elders, he made no answer". He said things like, "Well, whatever you think". You know why he could do that? Because he knew his own heart. When you know your heart, you don't have to try to convince people that you're right because you trust God to do the convincing if they need to be convinced. And I love this scripture, 1 Peter 2:23: "When Jesus was reviled and insulted, he did not revile or offer insult in return: when he was abused and suffered, he made no threats of vengeance: but he trusted himself and everything to him who judges fairly".
And the last thing I'll say, when people judge and criticize you, don't get angry. You know why? Because you're playing right into the enemy's hands when you do that. That's exactly what he wants. You know what I think the best thing is to do? And, boy, I need this message myself. If you don't need it, I'll just preach to myself tonight. I need this. Does anybody need this besides me? I need this. I wanna get to the point where I don't ever get angry and lash back at people but I'm willing to just say, "God, I don't think that's right but if it is, show me". Because you know what? The heart is deceitful above all else and I tell you what, we can deceive ourselves so easy into thinking more highly of ourselves than what we ought to. So let's just pray a little prayer right now.
Father, we pray in Jesus' name that you would help us to not think more highly of ourselves than we should, to know who we are in you, but not to feel that we're right about everything and that we have to constantly tell other people what to do, and help us take correction the way you did or when you were accused to just not answer people and let you be the voice that answers back for us. Father, we thank you for the word tonight and I pray that it would get deeply rooted and embedded in each person and that it would make a difference in their lives, in Jesus' name, amen.