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It is easy to judge someone. Especially when it is on a subject that is easy on yourself. Like slim people judging fat people. Or non-smokers judging smokers, rich ones judging poor ones, smart ones judging stupid ones. If you yourself have had to put little effort into something, it is easy to think that you are the standard by which other people should be judged. I am apparently the norm, the other the weakling.
It also appears to be easy to condemn someone when you yourself have had to deal with it, but have managed to detach yourself from it. No group seems to hate smokers as much as some ex-smokers. They are its chief anti-smoking evangelists. To have been familiar with it, intimately even, and then to break with it: that must lead to intense emotions. Anything with "ex-" in front of it therefore has the potential to produce judgment.
On the other hand, there are members of this (former) group(s) who actually show more compassion and understanding, right Because they have had to deal with it themselves. Or because they have (had) trouble with something else and recognize the struggle in the other person. This is how it should be in the church, I think. And immediately have to think of that wonderful story of Jesus (Mat.18):
An important and powerful supplier decided to demand money back from everyone who had yet to pay him. When he started doing so, a shopkeeper was brought to him who still had €600,000 to pay. But the retailer did not have that much money. So the supplier instructed a bailiff to seize both private and business property of the shopkeeper, to sell it by auction for the highest price. This way he would at least sth. repaid see. But the shopkeeper begged the supplier: 'Please, just give me a little more time! Then I'll pay it all back!' The supplier took pity on the shopkeeper and told him he didn't have to pay anything more.
As the shopkeeper was leaving, he ran into a customer who still had €10 to pay him. He grabbed him by the throat and said: "Pay me immediately! Then the customer pleaded: 'Give me a little more time! Then I'll pay you back everything!' But the shopkeeper wouldn't listen. He left and sent the bailiff to force him out.
The other shopkeepers saw what happened. They became very angry and told the supplier. The supplier called the shopkeeper to him and said to him: 'Dirty rat! I received another very large sum from you. But when you begged me for patience, I told you that you didn't have to pay me anything more. Because I felt sorry for you. Then shouldn't you have felt sorry for the other servant?'
Unfortunately, among Christians it often does not appear that there is less condemnation. They (we) are more like the second group: thinking they know the norm and measuring others by that yardstick. As if that is the core of Christianity. Surely condemnation must be almost the most common sin here. And that sin is in reality: knowing yourself better than the other. Forgetting which debt has been cancelled from you. And that is where the parable of Jesus hits home.
Conviction, in reality, is knowing yourself better than the other person.
Faith, hope and love
Where does this come from? Why is it that as human beings we are so quick to judge and condemn? It seems to me to be in the way we look at ourselves: if we do not know ourselves to be loved, we cannot imagine the other being loved. If we can hardly say "Father" ourselves because we believe that God wants to be a loving father to us, then we can't imagine that of the other person with his faults at all. Could it be such a negative self-image, such a vulgar form of jealousy?
It is like the older brother looking misguided at the love that 'the prodigal son' gets. But that is a misconception of this love. Richard Rohr says somewhere about this story that it is better 'The loving father' can be called. Because that is what the story is really about. Meanwhile, I am reminded of a quote from Chesterton: “Only kindness produces friendship. And we must look much deeper into the soul of man for that which produces kindness.“
Without faith, hope and love, but especially without love, our words are just a noise, Paul said. Without these there is unbelief, despair and lovelessness, but with these, faith, hope and love will actually increase, anything is possible. It is not something you can strive for, but what you may receive. And receiving often proves more difficult than being able to earn it through something you have done "well.
So we have these three things: faith, hope and love. But the most important of these three is love (1 Cor. 13).
If we are with Chesterton then look deeper into the soul to explore what nurtures faith, hope and love, then we discover God's love for us and God's love in us. A relationship with Jesus where you get to experience his love, his love fills the depths of your soul, his love starts to flow through you. That is where healing is going to take place and through which this love will flow out through you. That is not "good works," that is not "character," it is a consequence.
Thus, knowing God's love is by no means sufficient. It must be personally and deeply experienced. This can be done by putting down your own ego. By putting Jesus on the throne of your life. By letting Him be the authority in your life. And if Jesus is allowed to use your life, he will live in you and with you. Then he will change your heart, use your hands, your mouth, your eyes. And then you will begin to see the other person through his eyes. Not moralistically, not as you want the other person to be, not as you had hoped the other person would change, but as the beloved child as Jesus looks at him or her. THAT will change everything.
And every time condemnation comes up we may bring this to Jesus and say 'I have returned to the throne, will you take over again'. Then we begin to understand how we will not forgive two, five or seventy times, but that Jesus asks us to forgive 70 x 7 times (endlessly). We can't do that at all, but we don't have to. Letting go: 'Jesus, use me'. This is also where we come to understand that no religious system is going to help us do that. No law, no rule. Only Jesus. Jesus alone.
Het is mooi oordelen los te laten en met liefde en aandacht je te verwonderen en te ontmoeten. Fijn om jou verhaal te lezen.
Leuk op deze manier van je te horen Kris! Bedankt voor je reactie, helemaal mee eens.
Mooie analyse weer. Ik moet denken aan het kinderliedje: zit je deur nog op slot (2kr) doe hem; kr kr kr, doe hem open voor God want de Heer wil bij je wonen en dan ben je nooit alleen. Voor veel volwassenen is dit nog steeds een goede boodschap want waar harten op slot zitten, wordt naar hartenlust geoordeeld.
Bedankt Anne! Je begint m’n meest trouwe (reagerende) lezer te worden! 😉 mooie zin trouwens; ‘waar harten op slot zitten, wordt naar hartenlust geoordeeld’. Mee eens!