On Friday “Morning Story and Dilbert” reblogged an article from “Walking the talk.” The theme was about not judging others and the writer makes some good points. You can find this article at http://francesgabriel75.wordpress.com/2013/05/30/judgement-and-walking-in-anothers-shoes/
“Judge not that ye be not judged.” Matthew 7:1
This oft-quoted verse is the tip of a profound subject: how do we relate to others when they do things we disapprove of? Various angles came to mind as I read the post, now I want to spread out some of my thoughts here to see what you think. Maybe you’ll be inspired to share your thinking, too. (I’ve had so many musings on this topic, I’m dividing them into two posts!)
GUILT: The Word We Love To Hate
A burglar always has one ear listening for the sound of a footstep behind him, one eye watching for the flash of blue uniform.
When I do something I know is wrong, I start to feel the conviction of the Holy Spirit. That’s His job here in this world. With my Spirit-pricked conscience already nagging, I’m super-sensitive to any comment or gesture indicating disapproval. Like my ancestors, Adam & Eve, I’m defensive and ready to cast the blame on something or someone else.
If I get a whiff of censure from someone I may slap back with, “You have no business judging me.” You’ll find it hard to avoid this accusation if you really don’t approve. But it’s hard to watch someone heading for the brink of disaster and not yell, “Look out! Don’t go there.”
A Christian can never condone something God forbids. We know God loves sinners; we can feel sympathy for the position they are in; we want to offer hope; we want to point folks to the One Who can pardon them. But we can’t offer them the acquittal they often long for.
One mother I read about “rented” her two-year old to perverts to pay for her drug habit. She felt horribly guilty for what she was doing – and well she should! She allowed her daughter to be tormented rather than facing the pain of coming clean herself. I can’t wipe her guilt away with a “God loves you anyway.” Yes, He does, but at some point a “This is wrong. Stop!” must be said.
My sister told me how her ex-husband would come home drunk and beat her. The next morning when he’d sobered up he’d feel so bad about what he’d done, he’d sit there and cry. God could indeed forgive him; Jesus could accept him. But this wasn’t enough to make her stay with him when he made no effort to stop drinking. When he started choking her until she passed out, she finally fled for her life.
Most of us lament the consequences of our actions at times, but not necessarily the act itself. If put in the same circumstances, we may well do the same thing again. Then if someone gives us a frown of disapproval we’re quick to say, “You’re judging me! You just don’t understand.” (Which makes you, not me, responsible for the guilt I’m feeling.)
Humanism, the religion of our present age, is trying hard to reverse the order of things. There is no God, they say, and there’s no such thing as sin. There are only feelings, good and bad. If you feel good about yourself, you’ll do good things. If you feel bad about yourself, you’ll do bad things. So, rather than our sin causing us to feel guilty, they are telling us that guilt causes us to do wrong. Thus if you make me feel guilty for what I’ve done, then it’s your fault if I feel bad and consequently make bad choices.
So we should rather say, “It’s not really your fault. You just couldn’t help yourself.” (Which may be true at times, but what decisions have I made in the past that brought me to this point of helplessness and what keeps me there?)
Jesus will never give us this line. Humanism is a false gospel; Jesus is Truth. He’s big on accepting responsibility. He doesn’t condemn without warning, but makes us an offer:
“Come unto me all ye that labour and are heavy-laden and I will give you rest. Take my yoke upon you and learn of me and you shall find rest unto your souls.” See Matthew 12:28-30
Feeling bad about myself or what I’ve done isn’t enough, but neither is feeling good about myself when I’ve done wrong. Guilt is not a question of whether you’re judging me or not; it’s a question of standing before an Almighty God with all my transgressions laid open for Him to see.
His forgiveness is not about how I feel, either; it’s about facing my wrongs, accepting responsibility, committing to change, then living my commitment. It’s about taking up my cross and following Christ. And his yoke is a power source; when we slip it on, it gives us the strength power to say NO, to resist temptations that formerly swept us away.
I’m sure if the saints would admit they really aren’t so saintly by nature and sinners would admit they have sinned, judging one another wouldn’t be a big issue. But only Jesus can free us from the guilt of sin.
Part B tomorrow: Jesus meets a wicked woman.