You know, when service has let out, you finally left all the after-church chatting, and you are enjoying that delicious Sunday afternoon food and everyone is ready to spill all their thoughts about the events leading up to that moment? The conversation that takes place here is something I personally remember well from when I was younger. It could run from one end of the spectrum to the other. "Wow, God really moved in praise and worship!" to "Did you see Sally Sue's dress? Why did she think that was appropriate?"
"Grudge not one against another, brethren, lest ye be condemned: behold, the judge standeth before the door." James 5:9 (KJV)
I think we've all been guilty at one point or another of dishing out all our issues and complaints with a group of people. I remember clearly partaking in this type of conversation more than once. James 5:9 seems kind of harsh to apply to a family conversation, right? We all have our thoughts and are able to recount something that happens. But when does it cross the line? When does it go from recounting the story or venting to "grudging" against each other?
I think it's important to stop for a moment and evaluate. Has the conversation become an all-out complaining fest about how the preacher said this and that and shouldn't be dressed like such and such or is outright boring? When your after-service meal conversation is plagued with judgments of every person in service, of the sound, the temperature, the message, the guests, the leadership, etc., you are setting yourself up for condemnation. If you have a night service, it gets difficult to get into the Spirit when you have all these judgments and complaints hanging in your heart toward everyone and everything, planted just a few hours ago. The rest of your week can be greatly affected by this, too.
Yes, sometimes people are insufferable. That doesn't mean we have to talk about how insufferable and horrible they are for an hour at the dinner table. It's even worse when you've invited a guest along or a new member and all they hear about the new church body they've joined is how someone next to you really needed to apply some deodorant this morning and that the ushers don't know what they're doing.
"Let us therefore follow after the things which make for peace, and things wherewith one may edify another." Romans 14:19 (KJV)
This Sunday, or whatever your next service is, when you go to eat, pay attention to the way the conversation is going. If you and your family and friends tend to get into talking about how awful everything and everyone is, start adding positive things about what they're saying or try changing the subject. Try to give grace. Imagine if it were you instead of Sally Sue wearing the dress. Maybe she didn't know. Maybe she's new and that was the only dress she had or didn't realize it looked that way. Give people a break and edify one another. Mention what God did in the service. Talk about what impacted you the most through the Scripture. Let's encourage each other toward unity in the Holy Spirit, not a continuous cycle of judgments.