SCRIPTURE: Matthew 7:1-5 (TM)
"Don't pick on people, jump on their failures, criticize their faults - unless, of course, you want the same treatment. That critical spirit has a way of boomeranging. It's easy to see a smudge on your neighbor's face and be oblivious to the ugly sneer on your own. Do you have the nerve to say, 'Let me wash your face for you,' when your own face is distorted by contempt? It's this whole traveling road-show mentality all over again, playing a holier-than-thou part instead of just living your part. Wipe that ugly sneer off your own face, and you might be fit to offer a washcloth to your neighbor.
STORY by J. Stowell:
Heart is used in Scripture as the most comprehensive term for the authentic person. It is the part of our being where we desire, deliberate, and decide. It has been described as "the place of conscious and decisive spiritual activity," "the comprehensive term for a person as a whole; his feelings, desires, passions, thought, understanding and will," and "the center of a person. The place to which God turns."
In a recent exchange of observations concerning those recently elected to public office I became deeply and profoundly disturbed by an attitude of judgment. An individual passed judgment on the “heart” of the president based solely on the fact that his thinking did not square with her particular biblical interpretations on several social issues. I didn’t response to her comments because I didn’t feel at the time nor do I do now, that anything I would share would be received in the spirit with which it would be shared. I have found myself waking up during the night with her judgment against the president working on my heart.
From this old preacher’s perspective none of us have the right nor the ability nor the privilege to pass judgment on the heart of another. Simply put, we cannot know what is the heart of anyone. Should we pray for him? Yes … but pass judgment on him because he might believe something different than we believe? Absolutely not. That belongs only to God … and in that regards, I think God might have some surprises for us because of our arrogance in our “biblical” stances on certain social issues.
Life and faith are more complicated than we make them out to be. We cannot fit everyone into the theological pigeonholes that we have made for ourselves. If that is what you believe, fine, but do not expect others to squeeze themselves into the same hole and then feel, since they cannot … well, then their heart is not right with Lord and … well, I think you know where that line of thinking goes.
It was one of the dangers I recognized back in the early 80’s as the conservative religious right began to take over the party of my father and mother, a party that I left with a heavy heart. A refresher course in the role played by the conservative religious right advocates might be helpful. Look into the Spanish Inquisition or Germany at the beginning of the Hitler era or the Salem Witch hunts as well as the role that self-righteous religious right thinkers played in non-Christian movements and I believe that you will be amazed at the destructive force behind such thinking.
I might be wrong in my thinking … I am often wrong or at least, I fail to communicate adequately what I am thinking … but passing judgment on the heart of the president or on anyone else simply because their thinking does not line up with ours is wrong … absolutely and totally wrong.
I’m leaving that up to God. I don’t want his job. Wouldn’t take it if it was given to me. My job is to work on the splinters and blanks and boards sticking out of my eyes, ears, heart and soul. God alone can determine the authentic nature of another person’s heart. Thank God for his grace and mercy in the process.
Thank you for being there so I don’t have to be. Thank you for granting me your grace and mercy even when I’m not always willing to show others the same.