Wednesday, April 15, 2009

The danger in passing judgment

Today’s Reading: John 21:23 (NIV)

23 Because of this, the rumor spread among the brothers that this disciple would not die. But Jesus did not say that he would not die; he only said, “If I want him to remain alive until I return, what is that to you?”

Good morning!

Rumors have a way of spreading quickly, like a wildfire out of control! Have you ever said something that was taken out of context or misconstrued? Do you sometimes misunderstand the words of another?

I’ve been thinking specifically about one of John and Charles Wesley’s Holy Club questions and how I might answer: Is there anyone whom I fear, dislike, disown, criticize, hold resentment toward or disregard? If so, what am I doing about it? Every time I make a predetermination about someone without fully trying to understand their behavior, words or intent, I am guilty of passing judgment. Christ teaches us that if we judge one another, we will be judged by the same measure.

If you are anything at all like me, then you probably hold some pretty strong opinions – maybe you believe in a certain social issue or principle that resonates throughout your life. You may hold others to a higher standard (like a spouse or child) because of your strong beliefs. When someone doesn’t live up to your personal expectations, or if they choose to walk down a different path, it is easy to become judgmental and even fearful. Rumors spark where judgment begins. If you ask yourself the hard question today, look behind the reasons why you are uncomfortable with someone else, and see if you can uncover and define the judgment you have placed on them. Would you want to be judged by the same standard?

In the movie, Home Alone, young Kevin McAllister is frightened by his next-door neighbor, Marley, an older gentleman who is somewhat reclusive appears callous and cold. Older brother Buzz perpetuates an untrue rumor about Marley, and as a result, Kevin begins to fear his neighbor. It is only after Kevin makes time to get to know Marley that he makes a true friend and proves the rumors false.

Early church history reports that John, the disciple who would not die according to the rumor mill, spent several years exiled for his belief in Christ on the island of Patmos. It is thought that at some point, John returned to the city of Ephesus, where he died an old man. Can you imagine the pain this preconceived notion brought upon John, as a result of others misconstruing Christ’s words?

I invite you today to let go of the judgments and presumptions you hold against others. Take your predispositions and lay them down at the foot of the cross. Ask Jesus to reveal His Truth to you. He can help you love someone who, for whatever reason, has become unlovable in your eyes. Jesus will help you separate the heart from the human, so that you can begin to love others as He loves you.

Grace and peace,

Deb Spaulding

Faith UMC - St. Charles, MO


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