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It is, some would say, all very well banging on about love, but what about condemning the sin? My answer to that is fine, and of course, and whoever said we shouldn’t? But that is not the same as condemning the sinner, and far too often Christians who talk about judgment condemn the sinner whilst condemning the sin – and if you think they don’t, ask yourself why it is so many non-Christians think otherwise? Who are we sinners to condemn other sinners? We have, Scripture tells us, eaten of the tree of the knowledge of good and evil, but that was our first parents’ sin and in doing that they sought to put themselves in God’s place – but He, and He alone, is the only Just Judge. He is the only one who knows our nature, what is in our hearts and what it is which influences us – we don’t, and when we judge other sinners we are in fact compounding the original sin of Adam and Eve. We are told to love even those who hate us, we are not given a pass because those people are evil, we’re not told that their sin exempts them from our obligation to love them; so do we really love the sinner, or are we just mouthing platitudes? Ask yourself and answer honestly, do you find it easier to judge the sinner than to love them? Maybe it’s just me then? I confess I do, but perhaps you are all more spiritually evolved? I hope so. When we judge we fall into sin, and I confess I am a sinner – and how about you?

If God alone is qualified to judge between good and evil, what gives us the idea we are? -nothing more than the original sin of eating of the fruit of tree of the knowledge of good and evil. We might claim that Jesus’ teaching allows us access to this knowledge, but he tells us not to judge. He knows the inner recesses of our hearts, and whatever we say – for example that it is good for the people whose sins were are condemning to know they are sinners (and why are we assuming they don’t?) – Jesus reads our hearts and asks why we concentrate on the speck in the other person’s eye and ignore the mote in our own? When we judge, we often flatter our own self esteem at the expense of others – the sin of the Pharisees. Jesus reminds us that the eye can be evil, it judges from what it sees, and it does not, and cannot see as God sees – but thinking ourselves as wise as God, we judge.

When I write in this way, it seems to raise some angry comments, but it seldom, if ever, produces a reasoned case against following what Jesus says. Paul says the same think in Romans 14:13:

Therefore let us not judge one another anymore, but rather resolve this, not to put a stumbling block or a cause to fall in our brother’s way

None of this says we should not make judgements about what is sin and what isn’t, but it does say that in making such cases, we have to assure the sinner we love them – and we should ask whether we do that as effectively and as loudly as we judge the sinner? Are we judging in the spirit of love, as God does, or as the Pharisees did, on the basis of the letter of the Law? Being poor judges in our own case, we might ponder why the world considers we do the latter, and wonder whether it isn’t onto something about the witness we bear?

 

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