For a while, I was into CrossFit. I discovered it at the perfect time in my life. I needed some new friends, and the people at my box were completely opposite of who I normally hung out with. They cussed, drank, went dancing together at local clubs, and were extremely healthy when it came to their eating habits. They were exciting and fun, and they seemed to like me.
One Friday night after a full week of working out at the box, we all went out for Italian food. Muscles were sore and still throbbing a little, but this was our celebration of an ending week.
For the normal American young adult, Italian food includes lots of noodles, creamy sauce, and bread. But for the crossfitter, it’s salad, water, and maybe a tea with no sugar. And you could expect this question with any mention of food: “Is it Paleo?”
Sitting at a large table with Italian music drowned out by the loud voices of the restaurant, I could barely recognize my CrossFit friends without their workout attire since they were wearing nice button-downs and dresses with hair gelled and makeup on. I quickly decided to not get the lasagna and soda that I really wanted. Instead, I would have a salad and tea like the rest of the group.
I was enjoying my meal and laughing at all the inside jokes and stories we retold that had accumulated from the last few months of CrossFit. Every now and then I would grab a fresh slice of white bread on the middle of the table, and when the server came to refill my ice tea, I would add another packet of sugar to keep it lightly sweetened.
My good buddy on my left turned to me and said, “You’re really enjoying that bread, man. If I ate bread like that, I would be huge.”
I didn’t take another slice.
Soon, the server refilled my tea again, and I added another packet of sugar.
My friend on my left said, “Are you getting any tea with that sugar?” and she laughed lightheartedly.
They were judging me. They were being legalistic in a way. They were trying to hold me to a higher standard of healthy living.
And I appreciated it.
Because they wanted me to be healthy like them.
Sometimes at church, people do the same thing. They make little comments about spiritual unhealthy lifestyles. They try to hold each other to a higher standard of healthy spiritual living.
But when it’s at church, people become furious and respond with, “How dare you judge me! Doesn’t the Bible say to never judge?”
There are clearly different types of judging. If I’m lost in an unfamiliar city and end up in a dark ally and see a man approaching me with a knife out, I’m going to make a judgement about him that he may not have the best of intentions. I could find out later that an independent film group was just filming a YouTube video, but I think making the judgement that there was a real threat would be the wise thing to do.
The type of judging the Bible teaches against is not discernment but condemnation. It is never my place to examine another person and condemn him or her to hell for all eternity. That’s not my call; that is wrong.
We should not live a life of condemnation if we are followers of Christ. We should not condemn others, and we should not condemn ourselves.
But we should be discerning, judging our surroundings and using the wisdom that God gives us to make the right decisions that help protect others and ourselves.
I want people to be discerning of my lifestyle. If I’m consuming pizza, donuts, and soda all day every day, what faithful friend would approve of such a lifestyle by saying nothing?
If I’m living in a way that is spiritually unhealthy, what faithful friend would approve of such a lifestyle by saying nothing?
I hope that I have faithful friends at church and not just at the CrossFit box.