Pastoral Ponderings 04/03/22

We are in the midst of Lent and the call to us to repent, to change our lives and behaviors, is strong for Christians. Perhaps no time during our year are we called more directly to look inward for places needing change and to take steps to make such changes integral parts of our lives. during this time of introspection let us not avoid one of the qualities of manhood that has always required our attention.

Humans, from the time of their creation until today, have a unique ability to be judgmental. We can pass judgment upon others, upon situations, or upon behaviors more quickly than a single drop of water dissipates in a hot frying pan. We see someone who looks different from us, and we instantly make assumptions and pass judgment upon that person. We hear someone speak differently and our skills of passing judgment leap into action. If someone dresses diffently, we are already there.

In Jesus’ day the same thing happened even to the Son of God. The Scribes and Phariseees saw this man from Galilee who knew scripture and recited interpretations with authority and a presence they had not witnessed before. That confounded and worried them. And what did they do? They protected their power and their personal interests and their preconceived notions of what the Messiah would look and sound like and they judged Him dangerous to their religious institution. Jesus was the greatest teacher to have ever lived and yet He was judged a danger. Eventually His critics had their way, and the Son of God was cricified.

The Lent season is the perfect time for us to take a lesson from the pages of history and to look inward to make the changes necessary to live a more Godly life. And what better place to start our “look inside” than with our patterns and practices of judging others. Imagine the type of world we might have if this one tendency could be overcome and we could truly judge people only upon their actions and behaviors, rather than our perceptions of them. Matthew 7:2 conveys the admonition to “judge not, lest ye be judged” by saying, “2 You’ll receive the same judgment you give. Whatever you deal out will be dealt out to you.”

Let us take the words in Matthew to heart and attempt this year to avoid the all-too-easy temptation to pass judgment without any thought, realizing that the ultimate judge will look upon our actions some day and we may indeed seek the compassionate gaze from Him that we are denying others all around us. It won’t solve all the ills of the world, but it would be a great start. Let us find a path where we can be slow to judgment and quick to mercy and compassion. It may be hard to overcome centuries of human tendencies in this task, but it is the path Jesus would like us to travel. And that’s good enough for me!

Minister Lance Smith