Few people think that they judge others. As humans, however, we tend to evaluate people and phenomena, and these evaluations are like judgements made without really thinking.
Jesus makes us see that our evaluations of other people are often far from correct. We often also forget that we are ourselves in the same boat. We may realize only afterwards that in some other situation we have acted just as imprudently as the people we are criticizing.
It is good that Jesus tells us not to judge others. Some people may feel that believers judge those who believe and live differently. It is true that we cannot accept lifestyles and choices that are contradictory to God’s word and the instructions of the Holy Spirit.
But we as well as others should be able to discuss different views constructively. Quarrels, accusations and excessive bluntness do not help. We must accept the fact that each person has the right to a lifestyle of their own choice, as long as they do not break the law or hurt others.
Repentance makes us see the truth
If someone lives contrary to God’s will, we can think that he does so unknowingly in unbelief. (1 Tim. 1:13). If we are able to freely discuss with such a person, we can soberly point out the prospects opened up by living faith. However, only repentance and personal faith make an unbelieving person comprehend the truth, as we can see in what happened to Saul.
Judgement does not warm our heart, nor does it open the way to merciful God. Grace, on the other hand, teaches us to renounce ungodliness and worldly passions (Tit. 2). It also gives us the power to correct our errors.
Saul, who was later called Paul, is an example of how a self-righteous person may see many faults in believers and yet be unable to see the “log in his own eye”. It is good that God can help each of us to see our own shortcomings first.
It is happy to forgive
It is not always easy to forgive. It is especially difficult to forgive if one feels personally offended. It is not easy to let go of the feeling of offense. And we also have our human pride. But Jesus exhorts us to be readily merciful. The readiness to show mercy and compassion surely rises from the experience of having been personally forgiven much.
If a person forgets his own sinfulness and weakness, he may be demanding and merciless toward his neighbors. This was the case with the king’s servant, who was ruthless to his co-servant, although he had been himself forgiven a lot (Matt. 18).
We sometimes need time and the mind of prayer before our heart softens to forgive. It is, however, important to forgive. If we refuse to forgive someone else, it is possible that we will not be forgiven, either. It is happier to forgive and to feel free than to feed one’s heart with bitterness.
Text: Ilari Kinnunen
Source: Päivämies 24/2016
Translation: S-L. L.
Julkaistu englanninkielisessä numerossa 10.5.2017
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