Tag Archives: judging

Know your audience


Jordan was my favorite. Of all of the New Kids on the Block, he is the one I swooned over. Their posters covered my walls. I listened to their tapes and watched their music videos and tried out their dance moves and envisioned one day being Mrs. Jordan Knight. You could say I was a fan.

Then, as an adult, I got the chance to see them in person. My sister and I made the trip to the Quicken Loans Arena in Cleveland and for an evening became 12 again. Or at least we did for a few minutes.

As NKOTB danced and sang the songs from the late ‘80s, we were giggly 7th graders all over again. But as some newer, sultrier songs began to play, a brood of scantily clad vipers slithered their way to the front of the stage doing some risque dance numbers with my Jordan and the rest of them. Not what I wanted to see.

How in the world did Jordan, Joe, Jon, Danny and Donnie, or their managers or choreographers or their bus driver or even these women decide that would be a good idea? Why would I, the former future Mrs. Jordan Knight, want to watch some other girl dancing with him?

C’mon, NKOTB – Know your audience!

It would have made sense that the team who makes these decisions would have imagined all the 30-something women in the audience and why they were there.

It’s important to see the faces of the people you are serving before you decide which direction to go.

It’s how Jesus did it.

In Mark 10, Jesus had just been teaching a group of people, and spending time with some kids, and as he was leaving, a guy came running up to Jesus asking how he could have the eternal life Jesus teaches of.

Jesus ran through the list of commandments, which, as Jesus knew, the guy had been on board with keeping. Then comes my favorite line in verse 21.

“Jesus looked at him and loved him.”

Jesus saw his face. I can just imagine Him looking into this guys eyes, and thinking of how He really does love this world so much and this man is one of the reasons He was here – to die for him, to spend forever with him in heaven.

He loved him.

Only after first seeing him and loving him, He tells him what He needs to do. He tells him to sell everything he has and give it to the poor, then go follow Him. He wanted his total commitment.

Jesus knew that was the part this man would need to deal with, the part that was holding him back. We all have had those things – our biggest struggles that threaten our obedience to God. Yours might be different from his, and mine might be different from yours. But we’ve all got ‘em.

While Scripture tells us this man went away sad, and kind of leaves it at that, I really hope that he was able fully commit himself to God at some point.

It is easy for Christians to feel they need to list all the sins, or at least the ones they don’t struggle with, on social media, while teaching, or in conversation. We do this without thinking of who we are talking to.

Once I was teaching middle school Sunday School class and, when talking about sin, I used an example of some “crazy, way far out there sin for middle schoolers” – drug use. I said it so flippantly, which made it come across as something these guys would never deal with, that’s just something really bad kids go through. I wish I hadn’t said it like that.

I didn’t know the all the backstories of each kid, and each of their family members. It’s very possible that I made some of them who could be battling this themselves, or who have people close to them who are, seem like a separate group of people from the rest of us. That’s not okay.

My sin and my struggles might be different than yours, but they don’t make me better, nor, thankfully, do they make me worse than you. We are all messed up humans who need the grace of God.

When speaking to someone about sin, whether writing, teaching, or in conversation, it’s so important to imagine who will be reading or listening – not to avoid teaching about what the Bible says, but to do it with love.

When saying or writing the words, if I can imagine it’s my sister or my son or my husband being the one struggling with this same thing, it will make a world of difference in how much love my words are covered with.

Instead of Jesus blasting the guy, calling him a money-focused, selfish jerk, he looked at him and loved him. Then He told him the truth he needed to hear, spoken from the face of his Teacher with eyes brimming with love.

Let’s follow His perfect example. If someone dear to us comes to us needing some direction from Scripture, we need to do it with love. If it’s someone we don’t know that well, we need to imagine that it is someone we love dearly. Then, and only then, we respond. Love first, speak second.

“Instead, speaking the truth in love, we will in all things grow up into him who is the Head, that is, Christ.”
Ephesians 4:15



I had never seen Sleeping Beauty. Crazy, I know. I think the only Disney princess movie I saw as a kid was Cinderella, which I LOVED.

So when Maleficent made it’s debut, I had no idea what it was about, and frankly, the previews looked terrifying (Angelina Jolie scares me). But then I heard it was good, from a reputable source, my sister Monica.

The original Sleeping Beauty was shown on television, so I DVRed it and watched it one afternoon, which I figured was necessary to fully understand Maleficent. Good stuff.

Monica said that once I hear Maleficent’s backstory, I’m going to feel bad for her and see what a jerk the prince is. I had my doubts, but I was ready to watch it.

In case anyone reading this hasn’t seen either one, here is a quick summary of the two:

*In Sleeping Beauty, the King and Queen have a baby, Princess Aurora. Maleficent bursts in on the scene shortly after and curses Aurora with death if she pricks her finger by a spinning wheel before her 16th birthday. Three quirky fairy godmothers take care of her in a cottage right up until her birthday, when she gets out too early and indeed pricks her finger, causing a deep sleep (thanks to one of the fairies making a slight change in the spell). The prince comes and she is saved to live happily ever after.

*In Maleficent, (spoiler alert) the movie starts out with Maleficent herself as a young girl who gets loved, then forgotten about, then de-winged, by Prince Stefan, who becomes king and fathers Princess Aurora with his wife, the queen. Maleficent is hurt and bitter, and annoyed by the baby at first when she decides to stalk it, but then protects and grows to love her over time. Alas, it is her motherly kiss that actually awakens Sleeping Beauty.

Monica was right. Despite my fear of Angelina Jolie and my extreme dislike of changing the original story (Like, who was Peter Parker’s girlfriend, MJ or Gwen? How can you mess with me like that Spiderman??), I became fond of Maleficent and wanted good for her.

Because I knew her backstory.

When you hear of what someone has been through, you begin to understand and empathize with them. While what they have done might be freakishly awful, harmful, or involve deadly spinning wheels, when you get to know them and their story, they become real. You suddenly can’t help but want better things for them. You also start to see that just maybe, if given their exact circumstances, you might be tempted to do things you never thought you would.

And believe me, everyone has a backstory.

Whatever terrible thing they have done is not excused, but you suddenly want redemption for them, whereas before you might have wanted them to get their comeuppance.

The Bible says over and over that we aren’t to judge each other. Not our job. What the Bible does say about someone who is knee deep in sin is this – “…you who are spiritual should restore him gently.” (Galations 6:1, emphasis added). Gently, lovingly. Not because we are better than that, but because we want better for them. There is enough of God’s grace to go around and we don’t want anyone to miss it.

We are all in this life together, dear friend. And without the mercy of God, we all deserve our punishments. But God is faithful and forgiving, and He is who we need to reflect to everyone around us.

So get to know the people, forgive them, love them. And thank God for the grace we each receive if we just accept it.

“Mercy triumphs over judgment.” (NIV) James 2:13b

*Maybe I need to learn Angelina Jolie’s backstory…*