Tuesday, July 10, 2007

How Not To Judge Not


Huh?

OK , let me explain. Everybody knows we're not supposed to judge others. Something about God holding us to the same standard as we're dishing out. But I've come to view that a little differently, lately, and I thought I'd share that.

If you drive much at all, you're going to see folks doing stupid stuff, like clipping a red light, cutting in and out, boulevard stopping, tailgating, driving with their fog lights on when there's no fog just because it looks cool (which would be my absolute PET PEEVE if I thought it was even OK to have a pet peeve), and on and on. When I got serious about Jesus, I started hearing from Him about the thoughts I was having toward all them malefactors.

Eventually, God has evolved that in my spirit to a real understanding that I really, really HAVE done all those things, and God has forgiven me. He's protected me from what could have been unpleasant, or even fatal, consequences of my actions. So when others do the things in my sight, that God convicts me of, and nothing happens (no cops around, for example), the thought in my mind is now one of gratitude for what He's done in me, not one of obedient (and gritted-teeth) forbearance.

But then another thought swept over me about judging others. I know the original word in the passage about that means to declare guilty. But how can we avoid doing that if we're going to make any sort of judgments about the behavior of others? When I start assessing the actions of someone else, I really see only two possible verdicts: innocent, or guilty. If I want to avoid declaring them guilty, I have to stop it before it starts. More about that in a minute.

This latest round of soul-searching started at the convention in San Antonio. In one of the workshops, I saw a mixed-race couple walk in, hand-in-hand. My old nature popped up and some thoughts ran through my mind, which I immediately cast out and reflected that they were a result of having been raised in an all-white-community in the North. For the record, let me state I have no problem with mixed-race couples. That's their business, not mine, in every respect I can think of. More about THAT in a minute, too.

A while later, I was talking to a reporter. He asked my opinion of the Resolution about the Dred Scott case, and we talked a while. I told him, among other things, I was less concerned about a 150-year-old Supreme Court case, than I was about a person's reaction to their waitress in a restaurant varying by race, or how we reacted to the mixed race couple in the workshop. He asked what I thought of that couple, and my answer was simply "judge not".

Here's where the light went on in my mind (doesn't make any difference to me if anyone else sees it, I did). If I do not have the right to "judge" others, that is, to declare them guilty, then neither do I have the right to judge them innocent!

I do not have the right to say it's not OK how you dress, nor do I have the right to say it's OK with me. Nor can I say it's OK or not OK for you to have a glass of wine with dinner. And I resolved, when I saw this little (perhaps invisible) light, that I would simply give it up. No more judgments, even if what I'm looking at is OK.

Let me add one more thought. If I am in a position of spiritual responsibility, as is the case with my family, I will be held accountable for certain things, before God. So I must judge certain things. And I will be responsible for my judgments. That may not be comfortable for me, but I must, nonetheless. And where God has given me any sort of format which carries responsibility, such as SBC activities, I must set aside personal preferences for non-involvement, and follow His leading. But you and I know that 99.9% of life, and 99.9% of the problems brought about by my judging others, don't happen on the convention floor, or while standing in front of my Sunday School class.

And, in the event that you struggle with this judgment thing, I dare say yours don't, either.


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