R. T. Kendall begins Chapter 4 of Total Forgiveness with a quote from William Perkins (1558-1602), an Elizabethan Puritan: “Don’t believe the devil, even when he tells the truth.” Rev. Kendall then applies that quote to Jesus’ command not to judge (Luke 6:37). When Jesus is telling us not to judge, he is not telling us to blithely ignore the wrong, but rather not to administer unfair or unjust criticism. Speaking the truth is not necessarily beneficial.
We need to distinguish between righteous judgments (1 Corinthians 2:15) and criticism with intent to punish the offender. When we’re tempted to point the finger, even if we’re speaking words of truth, we need to carefully consider who we may unwittingly be imitating and if we are trying to play God. Rev. Kendall finds it helpful to use the acrostic NEED when speaking to or about another person:
Necessary- Are our comments necessary?
Encourage- Will what we say encourage the person?
Edify- Do our words edify and strengthen that person?
Dignify- Will what we say dignify that person, treating them as Jesus would?
Ephesians 5: 1-2: “Be imitators of God, therefore, as dearly loved children, and live a life of love, just as Christ loved us and gave himself up for us . . .”