“Therefore do not go on passing judgement before the time, but wait until the Lord comes who will both bring to light the things hidden in the darkness and disclose the motives of men’s hearts; and then each man’s praise will come to him from God.” 1 Corinthians 4:5 NASB
My favourite fruit is a pineapple. I could eat those every day, they’re really refreshing and taste so good. The only bad part about them is they are a bit hard and rough on the outside. They’re not much to look at, but once you get them open they’re delicious! I think that some personalities may be like pineapples – very rough on the outside, but inside they’re very sweet. Perhaps the culture or home a person was brought up in didn’t teach them manners, or how to correctly interact with other people in conversation, for example. That doesn’t mean there’s not a heart full of God’s love on the inside. Other personalities can be like lemons – they appear very nice on the outside. I think the yellow colour of a lemon is one of the most bright and attractive of any fruit. But I’d never want to eat one by itself! They’re so sour inside.
There’s a man who is so polite, opening the doors for strangers, letting others go in line first, never missing a “please”, and “thank you.” But inside there may be buckets full of judgement, pride, selfishness and bitterness. And if it came down to getting that promotion at work or cheating someone to save some money, they may do it in a heartbeat! They’re very well-mannered when their self-life is not at stake, but if you put them in a situation where they’re about to lose something and you will see the true self come out. On the other hand, imagine a brother in the church who isn’t so refined – he doesn’t really smile or laugh at your jokes. He doesn’t keep long conversations with you. Or maybe it’s the other way around – perhaps this person talks too much and is too direct, saying some things that rub you the wrong way. Maybe he didn’t like your new haircut and made a subtle comment about it. And you think “That was rude.” And that thought keeps coming back to you, “I still can’t believe this guy said that.” And from that point on, without saying it you unconsciously avoid him because of this one little comment. And Satan is so happy to cause rifts because of your little root of bitterness that’s growing.
There’s death in that root of bitterness though… because one thing about roots is they grow, and spread to others: “See to it that no root of bitterness springing up causes trouble, and by it many be defiled”. (Hebrews 12:15) And then it’s possible that on the last day you may be shocked to see that this person was one of the most faithful one to pray for you in secret, he had a real burden for you. It was just a personality quirk of his, mixed with your sensitivity about how you look that caused all this trouble. Personality does not equal Christ-likeness. Love does. (1 John 4:8) Some family members may not call you, or go out of their way to spend time with you. You may wonder why. It’s best to assume the best about people. Do not go on judging before the time (1 Cor 4:5) Maybe on the outside a family member often keeps to themselves, and you think they don’t care about you. But when you’re in some deep need they may be the first ones there to help you. It was just their personality, they weren’t as social of a person and tended to like more time alone. But their heart was full of love for you! Why doesn’t God judge everyone now? It’s because there’s a day set for it – In the future… and He’s very patient. He routinely gives 60,80,90 years for people to repent, and that’s nothing for Him. He gave Israel many many centuries to repent! It seems like we barely give people 3 minutes to get their acts straight before we start deciding to hold some grudge! And we have no idea what’s going on behind the scenes, inside of them, what they’ve gone through, what they’re dealing with now in secret.
Even spouses don’t know each other that intimately. One of the most important aspects of our walk with God is to acknowledge my mind is like a little cup of water, and God’s wisdom is like an ocean – I have such a small understanding of what God is doing in and through other people. This is why faith is so important. If I could figure out and understand/comprehend everything I could judge rightly – people, situations, etc. But I can’t. That’s why faith and to trust the Lord is so critical, and to keep a clean heart toward others. “Blessed are the pure in heart, for they shall see God” (Matt 5:8) We should aim to be absolutely pure and spotless hearts, to cleanse our hearts – pure with no mark of any negative thought or judgement about others, even if it is true. God is extremely merciful, rooting for every single person to repent (2 Pet 3:9), overlooking so much sin, patiently waiting. He will not judge before the time, and neither should we.
The Lord has challenged me to overlook all roughness on the outside I see in anybody. Any quirks or what I see as negatives in their personality; be blind to those, just as the Lord is so graciously blind to my own sin and immaturities. I’ve shared before many times what the Lord spoke to me that has helped me in situations with difficult people – the most important thing to understand about difficult people is that I’m one of them. When I think of that it helps the bitterness against another to flee, and helps me to remember God’s tremendous patience and mercy He constantly has with me. Those that get offended easily over small things like that in other people will never be able to build the church, and they will have massive regret when they find out on the last day that this person who was very rough on the outside had a heart of gold that loved the Lord more than anything. And they missed how blessed they could have been by many years of fellowship with this one, if they had only overlooked some small thing. “Be kind to one another, tender-hearted, forgiving each other, just as God in Christ also has forgiven you.” (Ephesians 4:32)
**By Bobby McDonald © Copyright – Bobby McDonald. No changes whatsoever are to be made to the content of the article without written permission from the author at NCCF Church