I wrote this 2 years ago today during the 2010 mid-term election season. I still feel the same.
I hate election season. I’m not anti-voting, anti-democracy, or anti-American. I just hate the onslaught of negative media campaigns where political opponents slam, slaughter, and condemn one another. It’s so bad that my kids have caught on. We try to out-do one another with ridiculous and hilarious fake smear ads. On the way to school the other day, Taylor and Alexis saw a billboard for one of the candidates for governor here in NM and began spouting off funny smear ads that made me laugh so hard I nearly wrecked the van. Unfortunately, condemnation of one another is nothing new. Jesus told His followers to knock it off nearly 2000 years ago. He said…
“Judge (condemn) not, that you be not judged (condemned). 2 For with the judgment you pronounce you will be judged, and with the measure you use it will be measured to you. Why do you see the speck that is in your brother’s eye, but do not notice the log that is in your own eye? 4 Or how can you say to your brother, ‘Let me take the speck out of your eye,’ when there is the log in your own eye? 5 You hypocrite, first take the log out of your own eye, and then you will see clearly to take the speck out of your brother’s eye. Matthew 7:1-5
Judging and condemning one another is standard operating procedure for most. It’s an American pastime. So, if followers of Christ are supposed to refrain from judging and condemning one another, then we need to be told how to stop. From Jesus’ words above, I believe He gives us three very good and practical ideas on how we can stop condemning one another.
1. Recognize that to the extent we do (or don’t do) something, it will be done (or not done) to us by the Lord.
This is what I like to call the Reciprocal Principle of the Kingdom. Jesus makes it very clear in Matthew 6 that if we forgive one another, then we will be forgiven by the Lord. If we don’t, we won’t be forgiven by Him. In Luke 6, Jesus again shows how this principle works. He says, “Judge not, and you will not be judged; condemn not, and you will not be condemned; forgive, and you will be forgiven; give, and it will be given to you. For with the measure you use it will be measured back to you.” Recognizing that we will be condemned by the Lord if we condemn others ought to give us good reason to stop.
2. Recognize that we are often guilty of that which we condemn others for.
Theologian John Stott profoundly says, “Human beings unhappily possess an inbred proclivity to mix ignorance of themselves with arrogance toward others. We have a fatal tendency to exaggerate the faults of others and minimize the gravity of our own. We seem to find it impossible, when comparing ourselves with others, to be strictly impartial and objective.” Jesus may have been being a bit light-hearted when he used the log/speck analogy, but there’s nothing light about it. How can we condemn others when our sin is often so much more heinous than the sin of the one we are condemning. Recognizing this truth will go a long way in helping us to stop.
3. Recognize that our self-examination must result in mercy toward others.
Jesus says in Luke 6 that citizens of God’s Kingdom are to “be merciful even as your Father is merciful.” How can we not be merciful to others when we begin to fathom the unfathomable amount of mercy that the Lord has poured out on us? As we realize that the Lord loves and forgives us even in light of the huge log of sin we possess, then the speck of sin possessed by our brother or sister in the Lord suddenly doesn’t look so bad. We may need to address his or her sin in order to bring about their restoration before the Lord, but it should be done in a spirit of gentleness and mercy. The Apostle Paul reminds us that “if anyone is caught in any transgression, you who are spiritual should restore him in a spirit of gentleness. Keep watch on yourself, lest you too be tempted.” Understanding the mercy we have received from the Lord ought to kill any inclination to condemn others for their sin.
So…enough with the condemnation. Bring on November 3rd! (November 6th this time around.)