• Diana Dodd

Who Asked You?

Updated: Sep 28, 2021

Matthew 7:3 “Why do you see the speck that is in your brother’s eye, but do not notice the log that is in your own eye?”

“What happened to you? You used to be so smart. I thought you would do something big.” This from an old friend from high school who’d found me on Facebook and sent me an instant message. We were catching up and when I told him I was currently staying home with my toddler rather than pursuing my career, that was his response. Stunned, I thought, “Who does he think he is? He doesn’t know me!” But what I said was, “Well, it’s been great talking to you.” Then, I signed off and never talked to him again.

The incident happened years ago, but it obviously stuck with me. Looking back on it from his perspective, he probably thought he did know me, and because of our friendship growing up, he presumed he could comment on my life choices even though it had been about a decade since we’d last spoken.

But we all do that, don’t we? We think because we know someone, even a little, that we have the right to comment on some choice they’ve made or are considering. Someone will relate something in casual conversation, and we’ll pop off with some comment or bit of advice that was completely unwarranted and unsolicited.

Matthew 7:1-5 is quite possibly the most misused and misapplied passage in the Bible. It’s a favorite of nonbelievers to throw out whenever a Christian makes a comment regarding an unbiblical lifestyle or behavior. In this passage Jesus is speaking of hypocritically judging others. Simply put, we can’t accuse another person of a sin we’re actively engaged in ourselves. For example, you can’t tell your friend he’s an alcoholic when you’re sitting on the bar stool next to him every night matching him drink for drink. Jesus is talking to the “Do as I say, not as I do” crowd.

So, what does that have to do with the topic at hand? My friend certainly wasn’t accusing me of a sin by staying home, any more than it’s a sin for him to have his kids in daycare. And I’m certainly not trying to misapply this passage, but my thought here is that if we make unsolicited comments about another person’s life, aren’t we still judging them, or at least sticking our noses where they don’t belong?

People feel free to comment about all sorts of things that really don’t concern them. Even people we barely know will have something to say about whether we work, stay home, put our kids in school, homeschool, where we choose to buy a home, whether we adopt a pet, and on and on. And people especially love to relate their horror stories from when they did something similar, which is exactly what you need and want to hear, right?

The question we really need to ask ourselves when we’re tempted to say something in those situations is whether our comment is relevant, beneficial, helpful, or necessary. If not, it’s best not to share.

I’ve been guilty of this myself many times, and I always thought at the time that I was being helpful. But in looking back on some of those times when I’ve interjected my viewpoint or opinion on someone else’s situation, I’m not so sure that I was being at all helpful. I may have just been wanting to have a say or even pridefully thinking that I knew more than they did.

There are times when we should speak up, such as if we see a friend making a detrimental choice, like endangering their marriage by having an affair or perhaps falling into addiction. We should approach them with gentleness, loving-kindness, and with Biblical truth as our guide. (See 2 Timothy 3:16.) And once we bring their attention to the problem, we should advise them to seek the appropriate professional help. We mustn’t take on the role of counselor ourselves, unless of course we are a qualified professional or can relate a relevant personal experience that truly adds credence to our position.

When we offer advice that wasn’t solicited or speak out of opinion rather than actual expert knowledge, we run the risk of hurting feelings, causing added stress, or even damaging a relationship.

My oldest friend is a psychologist. I’ve called her many times with problems over the years, but she always asks me if I want her to respond as my friend or as a “shrink.” Usually, I just want her to be my friend, lend a listening ear, and offer to pray for and support me. When I want her to give me her professional opinion, I tell her up front. She has the relevant expertise to give advice on whatever issue I’m having, and at times in years past, she would automatically go into counselor mode. Often, I would respond with, “Stop shrinking me and just be my friend!” So, she learned to ask.

Whenever someone makes a comment about one of my life choices that I don’t appreciate and didn’t ask for, I’m put in mind of the passage in John 21:20-21 when Jesus is talking to Peter, and Peter asks what will happen to John. Jesus’ response is “If it is my will that he remain until I come what is that to you? You follow me!” Basically, Jesus was saying, “You mind your own business, Peter, and let me worry about John.”

Generally, we make these comments out of a genuine feeling of concern or because we truly believe strongly in a different course to the one our friend is about to take, but other times we simply speak without thinking or even speak out of pride and a belief in our own superior knowledge. At those times we should employ the following:

Step 1. Once again consider whether the comment is relevant, helpful, beneficial, or necessary.

Step 2. If it passes the test of step 1, we should pray Psalm 19:4, “Let the words of my mouth and the mediation of my heart be acceptable in your sight, O LORD, my rock and my redeemer,” to be sure God is guiding our words and our motives.

Step 3. We should ask the person if they want to hear what we have to say.

Step 4. Regardless of their answer, we should always offer to pray for their wisdom and discernment.

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