Have you ever had someone in your life who simply seemed to put a cloud of condemnation and guilt over your head every time you were with him or her? Fran is struggling with that very issue with a new woman at their church, Sally.

For several weeks, Fran has sought to reach out to Sally with the love of Jesus by including her in her Tuesday night Bible study group. But Sally’s presence seems to bring disharmony, and it is affecting the fellowship of the group. Fran recognizes that it is time to do something, but what?

Should she ask Sally not to be a part of the group? For what reason? Shouldn’t the love of Jesus overcome all of this? The questions haunt Fran, and she decides it’s time to go to one of her pastors for counsel.

Pastor Ron is in charge of small group ministries, so she makes an appointment with him. As she tells him about Sally and her effect on the group, Pastor Ron says to Fran, “I think you’re encountering a person with a critical and judgmental spirit. You know, Fran, there are people who thrive on making others feel guilty.”

“They do?” Fran is shocked. “You mean, they try to spread condemnation?”

“Yes,” Ron replies. “For whatever reason, they can only find self-worth by constantly judging others. That is how they feel good about themselves. It’s very sad to see, but it’s not that uncommon, Fran.”

“Well, her judgmental spirit is ruining our fellowship, Pastor Ron,” Fran says. “What should I do?”

“First, you need to get the women together separately and explain what is happening. You know, Fran, no one can condemn us if we don’t let them. Romans 8 says there is no condemnation to those who are in Christ so, if we feel condemned, it’s either because we allow someone else to condemn us or we condemn ourselves.”

“Yeah, but we’re not perfect, Pastor Ron,” Fran says. “I mean, maybe if we were the Christians we should be, Sally wouldn’t have a problem with us.”

“Oh, that is where your thinking needs to be changed, Fran,” Pastor Ron replies. “Sure, we all need to be open to honest, constructive criticism and to God’s convicting voice in our lives, but God never deals with us through these vague feelings of condemnation. That is not God dealing with you; it is Sally’s way of dealing with life—by making herself a victim and laying judgment on others.”

Pastor Ron has given Fran a whole new perspective of this situation. Now she must decide what move to make next.