A conversation with my son plus a “hit piece” in the media about a minor political figure prompted me to address, again, the dangers of hateful rhetoric.
My son has become exceptionally well educated in history and politics, and is a true source of joy, especially during our lively debates. However, during our recent conversation, I became aware by the casualness with which he passed judgment on public figures, verbally attacking them instead of disagreeing with their ideology.
I’ve tried for many decades to convince people to keep their complaints and their debates centered upon ideas and actions and to never demean or demonize a person. After all, we are all made in the image of God so we should tread lightly when we venture from the world of ideas into the world judging people.
Certainly, there are people that have said and done things so egregious as to justify their excommunication from society. Nevertheless, it’s a rare thing for God to show us His plans for that person so we can, in good conscience, elevate ourselves above them to pass judgment over them.
As a society, we have been duped by sound bites such as, “Due to the seriousness of the allegation…” I’ve had more than one attorney tell me that I can sue anybody for anything at any time. Allegations are just that, an assertion by a person or a group of people. The person(s) making the allegation is rarely, if ever held responsible if their assertion is found to be incorrect or misplaced.
A challenge for us is to, in humility, apply justice and mercy if we are called upon to judge a person. Let’s look at what Jesus said in Matthew 7:1-3,5 (NIV): “1) Do not judge, or you too will be judged. 2) For in the same way you judge others, you will be judged, and with the measure you use, it will be measured to you. 3) “Why do you look at the speck of sawdust in your brother’s eye and pay no attention to the plank in your own eye?…5) You hypocrite, first take the plank out of your own eye, and then you will see clearly to remove the speck from your brother’s eye.
The heart of Christ’s command is not a wholesale prohibition of judgment (see v.5), but rather to humbly seek the truth in a matter with fear and trembling. Condemning a person’s faults may be a failure by us to forgive, for God’s Word says in Micah 6:8: He has told you, O man, what is good; and what does the Lord require of you but to do justice, and to love kindness, and to walk humbly with your God?
In closing, please again consider the commentary on Matthew 7:1-5, from Ellicott’s Commentary for English Readers:
- Judge no man unless it is your duty to do so.
- As far as may be, judge the offense, and not the offender.
- Confine your judgment to the earthly side of faults, and leave their relation to God, to Him who sees the heart.
- Never judge at all without remembering your own sinfulness, and the ignorance and infirmities which may extenuate [make more forgivable] the sinfulness of others.
These are the concepts I communicated to my son, and now to you. I hope that all people heed this message, especially myself.