Condemn: to pronounce to be guilty. 

“Do you feel like I condemn you all the time?” I searched his face.

As he started to say, “No…” I knew the answer was yes. “What do I do that makes you feel condemned?” I asked gently, hoping for an honest response.

“Well, you just always ask these questions,” he said slowly. “Like you come to the top of the stairs and say, ‘What are you doing down there?’ Or when I’m on my laptop, you come up behind me and say, ‘What are you looking at?’ I feel like you always think I’m doing something wrong, and you’re just waiting to catch me.”

This conversation was really convicting to me because I realized it was so very true.

So many of my questions are laced with condemnation. So often my tone has traces of judgment and disapproval. I have to admit that I am often waiting to catch the people I love doing something wrong. Is this my job as a wife, mom, friend, and sister in the Lord? Or am I overstepping?

Why We Condemn

I think we tend to shower the people we love with condemnation, because we’re putting the burden of control back up on our shoulders. We control because we care. We even condemn because we care. (Really, we do!)

We want our loved ones to live sin-free, happy lives, and we think it’s all up to us to make that happen. But as we’ll inevitably learn, this isn’t possible. We can’t force our kids or co-workers to be industrious, hard-working, and honest. We can’t make our husbands or subordinates live lives marked by selfless integrity. We really have no control over how anyone else lives their life. The only control we have is over ourselves.

So to retrain our hearts, we’re extracting all the condemnation from our words during this Five C Challenge.

Are you taking the Five C Challenge? Sign up HERE so you don’t miss any posts. 

Ministry of Condemnation

Years ago, I read about the “ministry of condemnation” I Corinthians 3:7-11 (which was referring to the Ten Commandments) and thought, “That’s me! I’m trying to have a ministry of condemnation in the lives of my loved ones!”

But I realized that it would be wise for me to think about this “ministry” of mine, and where it was leading. What was the effect of the Ten Commandments? Did the “ministry of condemnation” in the Bible cause people to live good and holy lives? No, the law only allowed us to become conscious of our sin (Rom. 3:20). It made us aware of our need for Jesus.

Jesus’ Condemnation-Free Ministry

When Jesus entered the world at Christmastime, he didn’t come to condemn the world (John 3:17). He came so that the world might be saved. So when I spend Christmas raining condemnation on people whom Jesus loves and came to save, I’m clearly not representing the celebration well.

Jesus had endless compassion for the repentant. Think about the time the woman was caught in adultery, and the religious leaders–following through in their ministry of condemnation–brought her to Jesus, inviting him to condemn her (John 8:1-11). Even though the law would have supported stoning her (vs. 5), Jesus turned the tables.

He told those condemning leaders that the one without sin should throw the first stones. Then, rather than standing with his arms crossed, glaring, Jesus leaned down and drew in the dirt as the leaders, one by one, slipped away.

Jesus refused to be pulled into a dispute about who was the greater sinner. Yes, this woman had sinned. But in their condemnation, these religious leaders were sinning, too.

Oh my, what a lesson for me this is! Those times that I point angrily and cast blame with my questions or I quote Bible verses to shame others, I am not representing Jesus.

When the sinful woman was the only one left, Jesus said, “Where are your accusers? Didn’t even one of them condemn you?” “No, Lord,” she said. And Jesus said, “Neither do I. Go and sin no more.” (John 8:10)

Following Jesus

Picture the contrast. One one side of the line, picture Jesus smiling at the woman caught in adultery and telling her to go and sin no more. And then on the other side, picture me glaring and pointing at a sixteen-year-old caught wasting time. The contrast is staggering. It begs two questions:

1. Just who do I think I am?

2. Just what do I think I can accomplish with my condemnation?

If I am to represent Jesus and be His messenger–both throughout the world and in my own kitchen, then I should have a ministry of grace, not condemnation.

Ministry of Grace

Let’s be women who share a ministry of grace (not condemnation) toward others. Let’s use language like:

  • “I’m sorry that I….”
  • “How can I help you with this?”
  • “I struggle with this, too. Would you like me to pray for us both?”

We need grace just as much as our loved ones! Thankfully, to all who repent and make Jesus their Lord, He offers grace upon grace. (John 1:16) And we should, too.

Lord, help us to be women who represent you well, this Christmas. You came, not to condemn the world, but to save us all from our sins! May we be women who spread grace, not condemnation, to others this Christmas. 

Are you taking the Five C Challenge? Sign up HERE so you don’t miss any posts.

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