Monday, April 16, 2012

With What Judgment

            Judging others is my besetting sin, and I do it for the worst of all possible reasons: because God has given me uncountable blessings all through my life.  This has not made me humbly as grateful as it should.  I am ashamed to say that it has made me look down on people who are less fortunate.  How crazy is that?  As if I did anything to deserve God’s goodness.  I am constantly battling this tendency in myself, constantly asking God's forgiveness for the times I fail.
But this inclination to condemnation goes far beyond my own personal journey of faith.  Nor is it just one of the countless sins wiped away by Christ’s sacrifice.  It is nothing less than a cancer in the heart of the Body of Christ.
Jesus stated the one sin that could never be forgiven: the sin against the Holy Spirit (Matthew 18:36).  Exactly what that is has been hotly debated ever since there have been Bible scholars. Now, I am no theologian or scholar, but I have read and studied the scriptures all my life, and I think that sin is the habitual judging of others.  Not the judgment that comes unbidden and which we instantly regret.  As I said above, I am one of the worst of those offenders.  I believe that  that sin becomes unforgivable when we refuse to acknowledge it as a sin, when we revel in it rather than fight against it.
There are several references in the Bible that back me up. First, when Jesus spoke of the unpardonable sin, it was in response to the Pharisees judgment of Him.  Second, Christ warned us that with what judgment we judged, we would be judged (Matthew 7: 1& 2).  Third, He told the story of the servant whose lord canceled his great debt and how that servant refused to cancel the tiny amount a fellow-servant owed him, with the result that the servant’s lord “delivered him to the tormentors till he should pay all that was due unto him”.  Then Jesus warned: ‘So shall my heavenly Father do also unto you, if ye from your hearts forgive not everyone his brother’s trespasses” (Matthew 19:23-36).  This he said to his disciples, not the crowds. This he says to us Christians.  Lastly, there is the scariest reference of all.  In the Lord’s Prayer it clearly states: "Forgive us our trespasses as we forgive".
My son is a dedicated Christian.  Being caught in his sin was all the punishment he required.  He repented and asked for God’s forgiveness.  He is forgiven.  If anyone who follows Christ now condemns him, they are setting themselves above God.  
Many people, including myself, are saddened by the great number of Christian churches closing and that those still hanging on have so few worshipers.  I would like to hazard a guess as to why.  I think the reason for the Body of Christ withering away can be found in Revelation 2:4: “because thou hast left thy first love”. We are no longer showing the love of Christ to a broken world.  We judge, shun, and exclude: we shoot our wounded.  Jesus could  just as well say: Verily I say unto you, That the felons and registered sex offenders go into the kingdom of God before you.

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