Wednesday, June 18, 2014

A Thought

[Jesus said], “Judge not, that you be not judged.  For with what judgment you judge, you will be judged; and with what measure you use, it will be measured back to you … First remove the plank from your own eye, and then you will see clearly to remove the speck from your brother’s eye” (Matthew 7:1-2, 5).

This is probably the most misunderstood yet most often quoted passage in all the Gospel accounts.  We live in a society in which “every man for himself” seems to be the dominant mantra, and “freedom of religion” also means “freedom from religion”.  So those who set their own course and make their own decisions based strictly on what pleases themselves are demanding that religious people “judge not”; probably better translated as “butt out”.

Passing judgment is a tricky and dangerous business no matter how you slice it not only because of what Jesus points out, but also because our snap judgments can (more often than not) be hastily made based only on what we may happen to know at any given time – knowledge which will always be limited but primarily based on what we think we know.

Yet our Lord does not preclude judgment as in discerning right from wrong and holding one another accountable to the faith.  In fact a willingness to take such a risk is an act of love, just as when we set limits for our own children – to protect them, not stifle or control them.  And when we do not hold our children accountable but let them do all they wish to do when they wish to do so is neglect, pure and simple.  We do not care enough to put being “popular” or “cool” at risk.

However, discernment is not without its own tricky balance.  A willingness to risk a relationship for the sake of what is righteous must come from earnest love for the soul of another.  If we try to point out what is offensive to us personally and only use a few select Bible quotes as tools to our own ends, we are not “speaking the truth in love”.  This is a very delicate line that, once crossed, can often do much more harm than good depending on our ultimate goal.  Are we trying to save a soul, or are we simply trying to manipulate our society one life at a time to something more pleasing to ourselves?  But just as we can discern between right and wrong, others can easily discern genuine love from religious manipulation.

Make no mistake.  Jesus is very clear about we who would point a finger: “First remove the plank from your own eye”; that is, we must do some serious soul searching, confess and repent first.  After we have first been completely honest with ourselves and our Lord, then we have not only the right but the moral duty to admonish others so they may also avoid the coming Judgment.  And if even then they will not hear us, we are to move along – not dig in for a prolonged fight.

The Lord’s Word will serve The Lord’s purposes, not ours.  Let us always remember Whom we speak for.


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