Have you heard the phrase “put a horse out to pasture”? This phrase usually means a literal horse, but it can also mean someone or something that needs to retire. The proverbial horse I am speaking of is not an actual 4-legged creature that gallops with pride and joy as its mane flows freely while it tosses its head to and fro. Nope, I’m not talking about the animal we are mesmerized with as we watch this majestic creature run with the wind as its legs and chest muscles visibly ripple. Nope. The horse I am talking about is ‘judgment’.

I had someone say to me the other day, “He is afraid of being judged, so he won’t do this…” My immediate response was, “That horse of ‘judgement’ needs to be put out to pasture!” (It is getting old). That was no longer a valid excuse in my eyes. I felt completely vindicated and right as I was angry with this person and their excuse, and felt totally justified to say so. Does this mean I am in the right, or them, or neither?

“Judge not, and you will not be judged; condemn not, and you will not be condemned; forgive, and you will be forgiven; give, and it will be given to you. Good measure, pressed down, shaken together, running over, will be put into your lap. For with the measure you use it will be measured back to you.”
Luke 6:37-38

God works in my heart when it is time for me to learn something, whether I want to or not. He uses situations to make a point, and the Holy Spirit points out the truth. God’s goal is for me to learn it, and apply it, making me a better example and refined as a believer in Jesus. Often times, this takes a few occurrences of lessons for His purposes to reach my heart.

For the most part, I tend to be a rule follower, and despise it when others do not. For example: when a sign on the trail tells you to go a certain direction, and do not take shortcuts, then I typically follow that. So when I come across someone else who is going the wrong way, my blood begins to boil, and I feel justified in thinking, and sometimes saying, “You’re going the wrong way.” True, they didn’t obey the sign, but maybe they couldn’t read it, or overlooked it, or were only going to do a small portion of the trail. The problem is: I am judging them based on what I see and not what I know.

So when considering this young man, the Lord revealed something to me: Judgment often stems from a spirit of unforgiveness, or leads to a spirit of unforgiveness. Whoa… Have I been harboring anger towards him because I have yet to forgive him? True, his excuse, to me is lame and old, but is there a spirit of judgment that I need to put out to pasture?

“Why do you pass judgment on your brother? Or you, why do you despise your brother? For we will all stand before the judgment seat of God.”
Romans 14:10

Judgments can go both ways. Each side usually has a version of the truth.

As a believer in Jesus, He has asked us to love others as He has loved us, and that is unconditionally. His love was sacrificial. Jesus’ love was not deterred by someone else’s actions, but was already there before, during and after our sinfulness.

“Trust in the Lord and do good; dwell in the land and enjoy safe pasture.”
Psalm 37:3

Can I be angry and not sin? Thats a tough one. Doubtful. My supposedly ‘righteous’ anger likely will become selfish and rooted in pride. This is not how Jesus has told us to live and love fellow believers. So, I must put my horse of judgment out to pasture, to retire it, as I no longer should be using its strength to create furrows and divisions in my garden. My Godly garden will be growing from seeds of love, rooted with a depth of a humble relationship with my Savior. To see others as He does: imperfect, yet totally deserving of God’s love.

“Brothers, if anyone is caught in any transgression, you who are spiritual should restore him in a spirit of gentleness. Keep watch on yourself, lest you too be tempted.”
Galatians 6:1

True, there is time for believers to privately meet with fellow christians who are purposely sinning against the Lord, and help them see and conquer what the enemy has been throwing at them, rebuking their sin, but we must first check and remove the beam that could be in our own eye before we point out someone else’s speck. When we have something in our eye, it affects our vision. It is blurred, or our depth perception is inaccurate. So before we confront someone else, check out your own heart and actions, or lack thereof, before you judge someone else.

“The Lord is my shepherd, I lack nothing.
He makes me lie down in green pastures,
he leads me beside quiet waters,
he refreshes my soul.”
Psalm 23:1-3

Food for thought: “God’s truth judges created things out of love, and Satan’s truth judges them out of envy and hatred.” – Dietrich Bonhoeffer

Fun facts: Race horses are at their peak for about 3 years, and then are either sold cheaply or given away for free, as they have many health or temperament issues. There are Equine barns that will retrain a horse for riding or to be put out to pasture with other horses as companions.

Photo by: Kari Wiseman – Horses in the pasture