A Painful Lesson
Luke 6:37 Judge not, and you will not be judged; condemn not, and you will not be condemned.
I need to take care for what I ask. I read this passage yesterday, beginning my usual routine of meditating and praying for understanding. I then set out for my day which was interrupted by a lesson in being judgmental. Though I did not intend to do so, I met with a sex offender. I will not provide the details of the meeting except to say that I was judgmental. I did not particularly want this encounter and I found myself looking down most of the time, literally and figuratively.
I may be guilty of mistakes in life, but there are those who have failed in ways that even I look down on. In my comparison, I find myself to be better than. This is the essence of being judgmental, elevating myself to the point where I am justified in condemning those I consider to be inferior to me. Then, I can feel confident in my disdain and mistreatment of the one on which I look down.
Judging is appropriate in certain settings, such as that of an actual judge. We do delegate power to certain people and institutions to maintain law and peace. The individual I met with yesterday would agree that he had met with judgement appropriate for his crimes.
Jesus however, said that I am not my brother’s judge. Being a Christian does not mean I have the power and responsibility to condemn another. It is not my place to hate this man for his sin, though I certainly do hate his sin.
I will not pretend that this individual’s offenses are not horrific, nor would this individual. Not being judgmental does not mean we lose the ability to say that destructive behavior is destructive. It does not mean that this individual should not be incarcerated. Nor does it mean that victims of destructive behavior are unable to maintain appropriate boundaries and defenses against those who would victimize them.
We may well need to confront destructive behavior in those around us. Not being judgmental does not mean that we ignore sin. As a Christians though, we so often divide the world into good and bad people. We are good and those who commit horrific crimes are bad. The fact that we have done and thought awful things does not matter if the line we draw is beyond our bad behavior. We can judge others because they sin differently (or worse) than us.
I am not suggesting that one’s pride, lust, greed or anger is as destructive as my drug addiction or that my drug addiction is as destructive as a sex offence. I am saying that God is our judge and that we make ourselves out to be a god when we look down on others, hating them for different sin.
I thought myself to be nonjudgmental but God used this extreme case to show me that I still harbor pride and a sense of superiority over others. When I am honest, I can see that I tend to judge those I see as still struggling with addiction or other defects. I’ve dealt with my problem. Why can’t they? How stupid…
Jesus said I am to love to my neighbor regardless of how they sin. He did not say this would be easy.
The Seeds of the Spirit is a daily blog based on a walk through the New Testament. Written from the perspective of my own addiction, it explores the common defects of our flesh nature and the solution, our spirit life. If you find it helpful, sign up for the blog as a daily email, tell your friends and like/share it on Facebook.