“If you judge people, you have no time to love them.” I had actually never seen or heard this quote from Mother Teresa before, until a local business placed it on their marquee. It caught my eye and sparked a great discussion with the kids in the car.

I’m sure I could write a lengthy dissertation on this topic, but honestly it’s best summed up this way:

Stop It.  Seriously, just stop it.

Stop over complicating everything. In Mark 12:29-31 Jesus lays it out pretty clearly. The most important commandment that He gives is to love God with all that you are. Then He gives us a second commandment – love your neighbor the same way. It’s really not a complicated concept, but it can be a hard reality to live out. Let me be clear. From this point forward I am speaking only to those who call themselves believers, those that claim to be a Christian and love Jesus. If you call yourself a Christian, then you are saying that you identify with Christ, and follow what the Bible has to say, as revealed and inspired by the Holy Spirit. Are we all on the same page? I hope so.

In the church, we seem to like to pay much lip service to loving people. Being His hands and feet. Going on mission trips, helping the less fortunate, donating to service projects and causes, all in the name of Jesus. Honestly, none of those are bad things, unless they are being done with a wrong motive. What concerns me, is that politically, culturally, socially, and within the church we have hot button topics or sins that we like to point out. I’m sure I don’t have to give you examples, but I will anyway. Pre-marital sex. Abortion. Homosexuality. Infidelity. Alcoholism. Smoking. Pornography. These are the sins that we like to point out and so quickly condemn. Please don’t misunderstand me, I’m not saying that these actions, choices, or behaviors are not sin, because they are. However so is gossip, slander, gluttony, lying, cheating, or misrepresenting the truth. We are so, so quick to judge the sins that we can so plainly see, or the ones that we deem to be “worse” than another. The truth is, sin is sin, and all sin separates us from God. The Bible speaks to this in Romans 6:23 where it tells us that wages, or the result of sin is death. An eternal separation from God. The consequences of all sins are not the same though, as we see in 1 John 5:17. It seems that perhaps this is where many Christians get hung up. Since the consequences or potential outcomes of some sin is greater than another, we feel justified in committing some sins over others, all in the name of “prayer and concern”. Before I go any further, I would like to make one other thing very clear. I am not perfect. I am not without fault or guilt of having committed the same sins I am denouncing here. Truth is truth, and my past mistakes do not change that these behaviors mentioned here are indeed sin. There comes a moment in time where the Holy Spirit really gets a hold of you, and brings to your attention the ways and places that you are sinning. It is up to you at that time, to decide what you’re going to do with that realization. Are you going to change your behaviors and acknowledge that sin is more than just “don’t drink, smoke, or chew, or go with girls who do”? Many, many Christians are careful to ‘keep the laws’ and stay away from certain sin, while having no problems committing others, either directly, or through omission. This is clearly not a new problem, as the Bible addresses it in Matthew 23:23.

The fact is, if you say that you’re a Christian, then you should be loving God and loving people. To truly walk that out, you have to do some hard things. People aren’t always easy to love. We are all broken people, living in a broken world. I think we sometimes lose sight of that. Hurt people….hurt people. Loving our neighbor can look like many things, but it should never look like judging them for their life choices and criticizing their mistakes. The world does plenty of judging, but we are called to be different from the world, and to be a light in the darkness. People don’t need to see more critical, judgmental “church people”, they need to see more lovers of Jesus, loving in His name. What does it mean to love those around you? It will look like many different things depending on your season in life, and what God is specifically calling you to. There is no road map, no “how to” list, other than to follow the Holy Spirit’s leading in your life. He will call each of us to love differently in the various environments He has planted us in. Our job is to take off our judge-y pants, and to listen and obey. Perhaps He is speaking to you through others, through something you read, or that gut feeling you just can’t ignore. However it is that God speaks to you, don’t ignore it. It’s time to just do. Much love friends.