I find that one of the most powerful motivators in my life, as it pertains to relationships, is desiring that people understand me. I want real and deep understanding – not just my words, but the intentions and motives behind them. This desire informs my writing style and drives my conversations. When I talk to people, I tend to take in what they are saying and ask many questions. At the heart of that conversational style lies a deep desire to really understand the person who is talking with me. I want to make sure that I know what they are saying before I respond.
I haven’t always been this way. In the past, I was very quick to assume I knew what someone was saying, and race to the conclusion. The later misunderstanding, and the pain that it caused, created more time than I was saving with my quick conclusions. I have also been misunderstood myself, of course. This happens often. I do not like it when someone does not understand what I am saying. I get even more agitated when someone moves forward – in a conversation, or when executing decisions – based on that misunderstanding.
Why do I get so agitated? Deep down, I want something more than being understood. I want to people to evaluate me properly. I want people who I care about to judge me according to truth, not sentiment. Quick evaluations and assessments of my heart drive me crazy.
At the heart of it all is a God-given desire to know and be known. I take great pleasure in being truly “understood” by someone, whether it be my wife or a dear friend. When someone “gets me” it greatly blesses me. When someone does not “get me” it troubles me. The problem is that I will, for the rest of my life, be misunderstood by everyone I meet – including those closest to me. There is no one on earth who will ever really know me – and evaluate me – the way that my heart craves. Shockingly, this includes myself!
“Judge Nothing Before the Time”
Paul urged the Corinthians to “judge nothing before the time, until the Lord comes, who will both bring to light the hidden things of darkness and reveal the counsels of the hearts. Then each one’s praise will come from God.” (1 Corinthians 4:5) Paul was clear – on the subject of, “how am I doing with God”, he did not even judge (meaning, “examine” or “investigate“) himself. Paul knew an incredible secret – not only would others misunderstand him, and judge him wrongly (1 Corinthians 4:3) – he was no better!
This passage gives us the two parts to the secret:
The secret to conquering our desire for deep understanding and right evaluation – which almost always includes insecure comparisons – is to first, remember how dimly we see. We see through a faulty lens, and are poor judges. We are poor judges of those around us, and we are a poor judge of ourselves. We will never, ever judge accurately or perfectly. Even if we could have all the information on a matter, we would judge either too harshly or too leniently.
It is important to distinguish here that Paul is talking about judging matters of the heart, not behavior, fruit, or doctrine. There are aspects of life together that believers must “judge”, or look at and investigate. Ungodly behavior, poor fruit, and destructive doctrine all fall within the “jurisdiction” of every believer to judge before the Lord. The heart, however, is very complex. The heart is beyond our ability to judge. When it comes to the heart, our comfort and our justification is that, “He who judges me is the Lord.” (1 Corinthians 4:4).
The most powerful part of the secret to conquering our desire for understanding and right evaluation is the second part: I can rest in remembering that a tender God knows me better than I know myself. My comfort and confidence is that the One who judges me has all the information, knows me fully, and is tender and merciful in His evaluation of my heart. Jesus delights in mercy! He takes in all the information about me and fights for the best evaluation possible in a spirit of truth. The One who judges me is also my greatest Advocate, Champion, and Friend. This is why Paul ends this passage with the joyful promise, “then each one’s praise will come from God.“