Monday, February 14, 2011

"Non-Judgment" - My Article in the Southside Messenger

Spirit & Truth # 214
By Rev. Greg Smith

            Recently, I told my church that I had discovered a hidden letter that had been tucked in a drawer by a former pastor a dozen years ago.  This note was a warning to any pastor who might come after him, naming a person in the congregation who had always been a thorn in the pastor’s side.  When I told the worshippers who the scoundrel was, they burst out laughing, for I had named one of their gentlest and most beloved deacons.  My ruse was up, and everybody knew that there had never been any such note left.  My point was simply that we tend to judge a person one way when we meet them in a neutral situation, and a very different way if we’ve been warned about them in advance.  We treat them differently still, if they have been commended to us by someone we respect.  We prejudge people based on all kinds of true or false criteria, but Jesus warned us about this kind of prejudice.
Jesus said, “Judge not, and you shall not be judged. Condemn not, and you shall not be condemned. Forgive, and you will be forgiven.  Give, and it will be given to you: good measure, pressed down, shaken together, and running over will be put into your bosom.  For with the same measure that you use, it will be measured back to you (Luke 6:37-38 NKJV).”
Jesus wasn’t saying not to discern the difference between good and evil, sin and righteousness in our lives.  He wasn’t even saying that we should avoid such discernment when it comes to other people’s lives.  He was saying that we should not cross the line from discernment to condemnation.  A person may have sin in his life, but it is wrong for someone to condemn that person because of his sin.  God is the judge and we are not.  If I stand in judgment, I assume the role of God, and that is the sin of hubris. 
            “Give, and it shall be given to you,” Jesus said in verse 38.  The context of this verse is verse 37, which talks about giving non-judgment, non-condemnation, and forgiveness.  When you give judgment, that’s what you receive.  When you give condemnation, that’s what you get back.  But forgiveness is the reward of those who give forgiveness to others.  Give whatever you want to receive. 
            In Matthew 7:12 (NLT), Jesus gives the Golden Rule:  “Do to others whatever you would like them to do to you.”  The Silver Rule is like it:  “Do not do to others as you would not have them do to you."  Who have you judged lately?  Who have you condemned lately?  Who have you forgiven?  Expect to receive from God just as you gave.

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