So the other day, I was acting like a jerk. No, really. It all started when I heard about how a fellow Christian responded to a situation with the virus. Honestly, I thought they were ridiculous. Rather than keeping my opinion to myself, I loudly complained to my brother for quite some time about it. I was critical, opinionated, and a little harsh. Basically--a jerk. I said things like: “What are they thinking?” “Why would they possibly make that decision?” And of course, I said, “I would never do that.” Thankfully, my opinion never left our house. But inside our home, I was pretty judgmental. Until one day, our phone rang, and WE faced a decision that was similar to the one I’d just criticized. Although it wasn’t exactly the same thing, it was similar enough that I now felt the weight of the decision. Looking at all of our options, trying to make the right choice for everyone involved, we took the safe route and made the exact same choice I criticized. (Ironic, isn’t it?) Honestly, I still don’t know if we made the right decision. One thing I’ve learned as I mentally wrestled though the issue is that in 2020, we all need to be a lot less judgmental and critical. We need to extend others (and ourselves) a lot more flexibility and grace. Even though it’s six months late, I’ve decided those are my 2020 words of the year: grace and flexibility.
Because the truth is that none of us really knows exactly what is the right choice. Yes, I know that most of us have strong opinions that we like to voice on social media. Every new situation brings out passionate people on both sides. Yet, this season in life reminds me that God did not appoint me judge, prosecutor, and jury. Instead, Jesus said, “Do not judge others, and you will not be judged. For you will be treated as you treat others. The standard you use in judging is the standard by which you will be judged.” (Matthew 7:1-2, NLT) While I don’t believe this Scripture can be used to blur the lines between good and evil, right and wrong, or keep us from speaking Biblical truth, so many things that we are arguing over right now have nothing to do with morality. While we each have the right to our feelings, opinions, and choices, we need to give others the freedom to theirs. This season is different for everyone. We all have different circumstances, histories, needs, and responsibilities. We all need prayer, understanding, flexibility, and grace. A friend of mine calls this “following the law of love.” This means: I love you if you agree with me. I love you if you disagree with me. When it comes to the inconsequential, non-Biblical, personal preferences of life, we don’t all have to agree. Our relationship is more important than agreeing on a trivial issue. Of course, it means treating others the way that you would want to be treated if you were walking in their shoes. So, after repenting, I’m trying to be more gracious. To extend the same goodwill and benefit of the doubt to others that I hope will be extended to me. I’m working on keeping my mouth shut more often. I'm trying to stop being judgmental and, instead, keep a watchful eye on my attitudes and decisions, remembering that I don’t know what I’d do if I had to walk in someone else’s shoes. I’m trying to remember that I don’t need to share my thoughts on every topic—especially on social media.
Most of all, I remember that as a Christian, I am called to draw people to Jesus, not turn them away from Him because I have a condescending, know-it-all attitude. Daily, I’m avoiding the temptation to act like a jerk, appoint myself judge, and argue over unimportant things. In general, I’m trying to avoid riding an emotional roller coaster and sweating the small stuff. Instead, I’m learning to take a deep breath, follow the path God has for me, and let others do the same. I want to be an encourager, rather than a critic—a peacemaker instead of a debater. Just something I’m learning.
Adessa Holden is an ordained minister with the Assemblies of God specializing in Women's Ministry. Together with her brother, Jamie, they manage 4One Ministries and travel the East Coast speaking, holding conferences, and producing Men's and Women's resources that provide practical Biblical teaching for everyday life.
When asked about herself, she'll tell you "I'm a women's minister, a sister, and a daughter. I love to laugh and spend time with people. My favorite things are chocolate, the ocean, sandals and white capris, anything purple, summertime and riding in the car listening to music. It is my absolute honor and privilege to serve Jesus and women through this ministry.