The Painful Path of a Prodigal: Responding to the Judgment of Others

As parents, we cannot assure the outcome of our children—for good or bad. This does not mean we should abandon instructing our children. We must teach, both in word and by example. We have a responsibility before God to do our very best. The uncertainty of the outcome for any specific child does not reduce or remove this responsibility.

How then should we respond when the painful judgment of others falls upon us?

First, we should allow it to humble us. We must realize our sovereign God puts critics in our lives for our good. If the Lord uses the wrongful judgment of others to strike a blow to my pride, I should rejoice as this “enemy within” is losing its grip—whatever the means by which this is accomplished.

Second, allow the experience to rid you of the fear of man. We worry far too much of what others think of us. We often travel down the path of sin because of our desire for admiration from men. The judgment of the Lord should be our only concern (Proverbs 29:25; 1 Corinthians 4:3). Remember the example of Jesus, who “when he suffered, he did not threaten, but continued entrusting himself to him who judges justly” (1 Peter2:23b).

Third, examine your own life to determine where you have been guilty of judging others. We live in an age where quick and uninformed judgment of others is a common pastime. We are sometimes infected with this ailment ourselves. When experiencing a wrongful judgment, look to see where you have wrongly hurled accusations at others. Then repent and learn.

Fourth, return good for evil. If we believe that they have judged our character wrongly, what better way to make this clear than through a godly response to their accusation? Do not allow their misplaced accusation to cause you to fail in your obligation to “do good to everyone” (Galatians 6:10)—including your false accuser.

Fifth, speak the truth in love (Ephesians 4:15). While the time and place must be appropriate, invite them to consider the truth of Scripture with you and to learn about your experience—so they might learn to judge wisely.

We often felt the sting of the judgment of others while our son remained in our home; less so in the years of his living apart from us. We could do nothing about the attitude of others. Learning to leave judgment in the hands of the Lord is the only healthy place to be.

Excerpted from The Painful Path of a Prodigal: Biblical Help and Hope for Those Who Love the Wayward and Rebellious by Craig K. Svensson.

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