Updated: Jan 11, 2020
About a week ago, I had an interesting conversation with a friend about another friend's dating life. The conversation quickly turned from "Did you see so-and-so is dating so-and-so" to all the bad things that guy had done in his younger years.
I live in the rural south. A place where Christian conviction and condescending concern are "two horns on the same goat." What I mean is, the same inkling we have to truly stand up for what's right is often presented via degrading comments. In the South, we often begin phrases with "I'm just concerned about her/you/ya'll" and maybe we truly are at first, but we seriously need to check ourselves on how we express this concern.
So what do you do if you feel like someone you love is not making the best decisions? Here's what I believe..
1. What makes it a bad decision? Is it morally wrong, or do you just not get it? If it's not morally wrong, then you're response should be "tell me more" instead of giving opinions. Acknowledging that we don't know everything from a snap judgement postures us in humility which will always open the floor for a positive outcome.
2. Where did you get your judgement? In the case of the friend's new boyfriend, the concern came from the guy's reputation in college (which was 4 years ago for him). Please, Jesus, let us all be different than what we were in college! The most amoebic personality is still changes with new phases of life. Graduating high school, paying your own bills, and moving out of your parents' house forces people to evolve. That being said, don't be unfair. It is absolutely unfair to burn a judgement of someone into your memory based on a bad/immature period of their lives. Off the top of my head I could probably name a handful of scenarios in the past year where I didn't put my best first impression on someone. Catching someone in a bad moment (even if it's really bad) does not give us license to label them by their actions. If our Heavenly Father refuses to label us by our sins, then we have no right to label a fellow sinner.
3. What if it is as bad as you thought? Proverbs 20:11 says "Even children are known by the way they act, whether their conduct is pure, and whether it is right." The truth is we can only know each other by what we observe. We have to be thankful that God knows the heart. He knows the intention behind our behavior. If we unpack that for a second, we can probably think of people we thought were bad that were actually good as well as people we thought were good that were actually bad. This is where giving grace becomes a discipline. We cannot understand each other or ourselves to our inner most being like God can, so we have to simply believe that every person is the way they are for a reason. A reason that may only ever be known to God.
My advice: pray for what GOD knows about them. God knows if evil resides in someone's heart or not-- a truth that we don't have to figure out (#PTL!). Second, since God knows the truth, God can change it! Stand in the gap for Jesus, not judgement. Actions give us the right to assess, not diagnose, condemn, or label. If nothing can separate us from the love of God, then ask God to help you see them the way He does.