COMMUNITY OF GRACE: When someone confesses sin, pardon by saying, “In the name of Jesus Christ, you are forgiven.” If someone shares a secret, thank them for their courage and never judge.
You, therefore, have no excuse, you who pass judgment on someone else, for at whatever point you judge another, you are condemning yourself, because you who pass judgment do the same things. (Rom. 2:1)
Have you ever had a season in your life where it felt like everything was coming together? Relationships were strong, finances were good, and your dreams felt like they were starting to blossom into reality? Perhaps you were in good physical health or you felt on top of the world in love. If you have been alive for any length of time, then I am certain you know that not all of life is a mountain top. Oh how I wish it were, but we are not living in Eden. We live in a world between two gardens.
I recently went through a mountain-top season. I was in the best physical shape I had been in for years. I was experiencing a kind of union and intimacy with Jesus that I had never known. Things were really going well. Then, in the midst of all this goodness, my mom called with the news that my dad had passed away unexpectedly. I loved my father, but we had not been particularly close in my adult years. I had no animosity toward him, and in many ways I felt like we were just coming to a place of rebuilding stronger connection. I was planning a trip this summer to bring my kids up to Canada to visit. Instead, he died. While I’m sure grief looks different for everyone, grief for me has felt like a wilderness. I know God is with me, but he feels far away. While my dad wasn’t an anchor in my life per se, I feel adrift. In the stress of it all my diet has lapsed and workouts have been few and far between. I have even put some weight back on. This is life.
I don’t say this to suggest that when things are going well you should be waiting for the other shoe to drop. Never. I am rather wanting to illustrate a powerful truth. We should avoid judging someone else, because we never know what kind of season they are in at that particular moment. Life is good but fragile. People are weak and strong. Life has ups and downs. Mountain tops and valleys.
With your bandmates, never be surprised by hard times. Do not be shocked or scandalized by their sin or secrets. When someone in your band has the courage to confess a sin, you are walking on holy ground. Take your shoes off. The times in my band when someone shared a secret were tipping points to significant transformation. I was honored to be a part of their story.
Now, before I make it sound too easy, the really difficult part of staying out of judgment is our personal reactions and baggage. We do not tend to judge others in areas where our sense of self-worth is secure and stable. Rather, we tend to judge others most harshly in the places where we feel the most vulnerable to shame ourselves. It is likely that at some point somebody will share something that may evoke negative feelings in you, perhaps unexpectedly. These feelings could be shame, disgust, anger, disappointment, or surprise. When we feel triggered by something, it usually has more to do with our story than it does with the person sharing. These are also the moments when we have the most potential to say something unhelpful. So, when someone confesses sin, the band’s response is consistent and humble pardon. After a confession, or prior to praying, say, “[Name of Bandmate], in the name of Jesus Christ, you are forgiven.” When somebody shares a secret, avoid judgment and thank them for their courage. Do not try to fix it.
This becomes a very practical reason why having three or more people in a band is essential. In the event that one bandmate reacts strongly by something another bandmate says, there will be someone else who can respond and pray better than that which a singular band member could at that moment. Take this as a general rule: If judgment or negative emotions rise up in you during a meeting, hang back from anything more than offering a pardon or saying thank you and lean on your other bandmate(s) to help. We are pursuing a community of grace after all.
God, help me to remember that we love because you first loved us. We can forgive others because you have forgiven us. Lord Jesus, help me to be a person free of self-righteousness. Amen.
Consider sharing with your band a place where you find it challenging not to judge. It can be serious or funny. For example, I tend to judge people who talk with food in their mouths.
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