Wednesday, January 30, 2008

Put Away the Gavel

I was thinking the other day (while in church) that I hadn't heard a sermon on judging people for a while. It was one of those random thoughts I get quite frequently which cause me to pause for a moment and consider the subject.

A few weeks ago I had a friend tell me that they were turned off by Christianity, because the last time they went to a church service the preacher declared that gays and drunks would be the first ones to go to hell. My friend had several friends that are homosexual and took it personally that the preacher was condemning her friends to hell.

Just to clarify: I am not saying the preacher was wrong. I am saying that he went about it the wrong way. What I mean is, the Bible preaches against homosexuality and drunkenness. Nowhere, however, does it say that such offenders will be automatically sent to hell. We are all sinners, and ALL sin is EQUAL in God's eyes. I am just as guilty as any alcoholic, druggie, prostitute, or gay. And I try not to forget that, because I could just as easily be in any one of those positions. However, because of my parents, my family, my friends, my choices, and most of all my God, I am not. I know why. I'm not strong enough. I couldn't handle being any one of those people, and God knows it. There are people who can go through such things, and come out stronger in their faith - should they become Christians. I cannot claim to have the capacity to be one of those people. I have gone through much less and wanted to give up living just to escape the pain.

It infuriates me when people judge someone by the way they look or speak. I am not presumptuous enough to say that I don't do the same thing; it makes me angry with myself when I do. You cannot assume you know a person by just looking at them and making your own assessment. That is what we do when we make an assumption of someone without bothering to talk to them or give them the benefit of the doubt. No one can immediately tell if someone is gay just by looking at them. I do understand that some people are flamboyant and have every intention of you knowing what they're about with one glance. But most are not, and we should respect them enough to stay out of their business until invited.

Nevertheless, this judging thing does not stop with first impressions. We have no right to condemn anyone for what they may or may not have done. We are not judges of God; God is the one and only judge. Do you not think you will be judged yourself for handing down convictions that were never yours to give? No one but God is worthy of condemning sinners, for He alone is sinless.

"How can you say to your brother, 'Brother, let me take the speck out of your eye,' when you yourself fail to see the plank in your own eye? You hypocrite, first take the plank out of your eye, and then you will see clearly to remove the speck from your brother's eye." - Luke 6:42

1 Corinthians 6:1-6
1If any of you has a dispute with another, dare he take it before the ungodly for judgment instead of before the saints? 2Do you not know that the saints will judge the world? And if you are to judge the world, are you not competent to judge trivial cases? 3Do you not know that we will judge angels? How much more the things of this life! 4Therefore, if you have disputes about such matters, appoint as judges even men of little account in the church! 5I say this to shame you. Is it possible that there is nobody among you wise enough to judge a dispute between believers? 6But instead, one brother goes to law against another—and this in front of unbelievers!

I know I probably sound quite self-righteous with this tirade, but I felt it needed to be addressed. I admit that I can be self-righteous at times. It is a minor fault out of my many.

We hear it in movies all the time, and it sounds corny but is quite true: "We're not that different, you and me." It goes back to the Golden Rule, "Treat others as you would like to be treated." Don't judge others when you would hate to be judged yourself.

We ALL fall short.

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