Guilty As Charged

“Let he who is without sin cast the first stone”  – John 8:7.   This scripture is John’s account of the adulterous woman facing death by stoning by self-appointed judges (Pharisee’s) intent on carrying out the sentence their law required.

gavel

This is one of the things I struggle with in life, and one I clearly stand guilty as charged with.  I am quick to judge, and it is not my place to judge.  The requirements to be a judge of other people starts with being appointed to the office.  In our country’s judicial system, judges are not self-appointed.  Thank goodness for that.

In reading the above account from the Gospel of John (in context, versus 1-11 of chapter 8), I recognize myself in the role of the Pharisee.  I often find myself wanting to judge others of the sin they have committed, but think little of my own.  Christ tells me otherwise.  He tells me I am not qualified to judge sinners if I myself am a sinner.  Truly, only He meets the qualifications necessary to judge sinners.

Proverbs 14:21 tells us “He who despises his neighbor sins”.  We are called to be in community with one another and to love one another and to reject that is a sin.   Jesus also teaches us in Luke 17:1  “Temptations to sin are sure to come, but woe to the one through whom they come!”  This certainly presents us with a paradox – how do we NOT reject the sinner, but at the same time reject sin?

Usually I find myself letting the second half of this paradox rule, and that is the trap of sin.  While I am passionate about seeing God’s laws being kept, I forget that I am to be forgiving and loving of others just as Christ was even when they are committing sin.  I also tend to forget one other rather important point…  I am a sinner as well (no better than anyone else), and it is not my place to judge others.

When this person is someone we know personally, we are expected to talk with them about the issue and (with love) hold them accountable, and take our (now mutual) issue to others for help if it remains unresolved.  But when this is someone we don’t know personally, we don’t have that option and we can only pray for their forgiveness (and certainly not for their condemnation).

Jesus wasn’t afraid to get into the mess of relationships with people, and He certainly did not back down from His Father’s law.  He expects us to do the same.  It won’t be easy.  If you are like me, guilty as charged of being judgmental –AND- being a sinner as well, you will need His help in overcoming this sin.  Join me in praying that God will forgive us of our transgressions and to help us to forgive others.

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10 Responses to Guilty As Charged

  1. “Yes, I could have been a judge. But I never had the Latin for the judging. … So I became a miner instead.” (from “Beyond the Fringe”)

    I think we’re all pretty much taught to judge. Any child who has been disciplined will become a judge, if only to judge his own behavior and avoid future embarrassment.

    But the good parent will also redeem us, by correcting us and by teaching appropriate behavior. And we must be willing to offer similar redemption to those we judge.

    The idea of redemption is probably one of the greatest gifts of Christianity to the world. We are taught that even our enemies might be redeemed if we care about them like we care about ourselves. A number of parables point to the worst examples of bad behavior being offered redemption and welcome back into the caring community (as in the lost sheep and the prodigal son).

    Guilt is like a bookmark. It reminds us that we did something wrong and that we need to take steps to repair the harm we caused and to correct our own behavior. When we’ve done this, the guilt has done its work and may be dismissed.

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  2. Doyle says:

    I see the issue of redemption a bit differently. I was not taught that others might be redeemed if I cared about them as much as I care about myself. I was taught that if I forgive others in the same way that God has forgiven me, then I can begin to understand the redemption God offers through His son Jesus Christ. He chose to die for my sin knowing that I don’t deserve and may never understand his mercy. He gives me a second chance knowing that I haven’t earned and may never understand the bounty of his grace.

    This is what I believe many don’t understand about Christians; our only intercessor with God is God himself. We don’t believe that dispensations from others, well meaning as they might be, can right our wrongs. Praying for others is of course a good thing, but it all comes down to one’s direct and personal relationship with God. Christ died for us, and we must be willing to die to ourselves for Him. We accept that the dismissal of our transgressions are His and only His to grant. Personally, when I do this, I then feel the weight of my guilt lifted.

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  3. I’m a Humanist, so I generally reject the efficacy of prayer. Loving “my enemy”, like loving my child, may involve correction prior to forgiveness. But more important, treating my enemy like an enemy who must be conquered and subjected is less likely to make the world a better place than treating him as a brother. Mediating a solution that meets the real needs of each is better than one winning at the expense of the other losing.

    I’m pretty sure Jesus would go along with that.

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  4. Doyle says:

    Yes, I agree with you almost completely that Jesus would go along with your commentary… except for the part about rejecting the efficacy of prayer. Jesus was all about prayer. See Matt 6:6, Matt 21:22, Mark 11:24-26 and especially Luke 11:1-12.

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    • I try not to believe in the supernatural. If God were to answer all prayers, I fear the result would be a lot of unintended consequences. Even at the risk of suffering and death, Jesus said, “Not my will, but Thine be done”. Presumably, God is good, and anything consistent with the best possible good for everyone (God’s will) could not be objectionable. Any other prayer is a bit scary.

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  5. Doyle says:

    Marvin, I very much appreciate you hanging in here with me on this topic. Most people would probably have bailed on me my now! My kids would’ve been long gone by now I’m sure (Dad! Give it a rest, please!)

    It’s also nice to converse with someone who truly values the greater good in life. We might be on different sides of the fence on some issues, but in many ways I feel we think alike.

    In your last reply, you mentioned you don’t believe in the supernatural. I do believe in the supernatural, but not in the “Hollywood” sense (ghosts, goblins, zombies and the like). I believe there are realms of existance beyond that which we can know or observe, which is super-natural to us. I have another page in my blog where I explain this more, entitled An Arrogant Bent. Please understand I don’t mean to suggest I think you are arrogant (not at all!) – this page is about a more general arrogance in mankind.

    With respect to God answering all prayers, I’m not entirely sure that He does… at least not in the sense that we think He should. Our children may petition us to grant a request of theirs, but we may not always grant it in a way that seems to them in their best interest. We know what their desires are and if we deem their request in some way beneficial, we generally do what we can to grant it. My 13 year old son wants a real cool car when he becomes 16. I don’t mind the car being “cool”, but it won’t likely be a new muscle car, either!

    Our children’s supplication to our authority is important to us – we are happy that they are not defiant and willful, so naturally we want to please. I think Jesus’ use of the withered fig tree was to teach us that our faith in Him can move mountains, if moving the mountain is consistent with His plan. He knows the greater good in ways we cannot.

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  6. Tammi Kale says:

    I so enjoyed the conversation between you guys that I totally forgot my comment to the original post! — Ok , I had to reread……my stance is this: Rather than beating myself up for judging others, I lean more towards I cringe when I know that “I” am BEING judged by others……We are given the mind of discernment, but that is so that we can prevent putting ourselves in situations a Christian shouldn’t be in and also to open our eyes to the times that we are a potential stumbling block to someone else. I know there are other times we put discernment to use, but some use it as a tool TO judge. I am one of the world’s greatest proponents that I follow no man but Christ and am judged of no man but God. This does not give me license to be arrogant (I haven’t read your arrogant post you mentioned but I know how some make comments that reek of arrogance much like what I’m saying in this post)……I answer to God on a day by day, even moment by moment basis….and if arrogance enters in, I have to answer for that as well. It feels like jabs of needles when I am being judged, God brings me so close to Him as I struggle not to let the needles prick me. And then he has to cool my anger so the flames don’t burn me as I get angry at the one doing the judging, especially since that is usually a professing Christian. Bottom line, it’s all just impossible without Christ. And I believe even the impossibleness of the many battles Christians fight within themselves was part of His plan. God Bless You.

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    • I like being right, because being wrong is often embarrassing. But the only way to be right more often is to accept a valid criticism and do better next time. It is a spiritual challenge!

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    • Doyle says:

      I was just reviewing comments to my posts and I ran across this comment of yours and I noticed I had not responded. Land o’ Goshen! How did I miss this? 🙂

      I really appreciate your perspective on this topic. I know what you mean by God cooling our anger at times when we feel convicted of our own shortcomings. I also agree that there is a bit of a lesson God wants us to learn about the “impossibleness” of the battles we fight within, and for me that lesson is usually God reminding me He loves me regardless of my imperfection.

      Thanks for your comments!

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