Thursday, July 16, 2009

P4E.114 Judge Not Redux

Jesus said to her, "Woman, where are they? Did no one condemn you?" She said, "No one, Lord." And Jesus said, "I do not condemn you, either. Go. From now on sin no more."
John 8:10-11

The distinction needs to be made between "judging" and "practicing good judgement." As a Believer, I have not always done well in making the distinction. I have not always done a good job of "hating the sin, but loving the sinner."

I do not believe that God expects me to leave myself in physical, emotional or spiritual danger. If I find myself in dangerous circumstances, I practice good judgement and remove myself from them.

In Matthew 18, Peter asks Jesus, "Lord, how often shall my brother sin against me and I forgive him? Up to seven times?" Jesus said to him, "I do not say to you, up to seven times, but up to seventy times seven." Jesus then tells a parable about a slave who owed his master money. "So the slave fell to the ground and prostrated himself before him, saying, `Have patience with me and I will repay you everything.'" It is clear that the slave was fearful of his debt and its consequences and made a heartfelt plea for mercy. The heartfelt plea moved the master to have compassion. These are the circumstances that Jesus is talking about when it comes to extending compassion and mercy. Heartfelt pleas for mercy provide an opportunity for heartfelt forgiveness. As many times as necessary. Christ did not advise what to do after the other cheek is slapped, but one only has two cheeks. Removing oneself from the source of offense is practicing good judgement.

When Christ sent His disciples out on their own He advised them "Whoever does not receive you, nor heed your words, as you go out of that house or that city, shake the dust off your feet." I interpret that to mean, "You have rejected me. I am removing myself from you. I am not taking anything from you with me." The shaking the dust off the feet is not necessarily a condemnation, but an acknowledgement of a parting of ways.

So, when I'm in physical, emotional or spiritual danger, I can remove it by forgiving the perpetrator or removing myself from his presence OR BOTH. In neither case do I judge or condemn the one who puts me in danger. I'm simply removing myself from the source of danger.

In this way, I believe we can be like Christ. He did not condemn, but encouraged the adulterous woman to accept His salvation by turning away from self-destructive behavior, "...sin no more."

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