Seeing the struggle before you see the choice

Think for a moment, how much of your conversations and thought life is consumed by passing judgement on others and comparing yourself to others? We discuss what he said, where she went and we silently think our ways superior to how they do things. We use this to divert attention from our own weakness and to emphasise the occasions where we come out on top by comparison. In science and business we are warned against drawing conclusions without having all the facts. According to C.S. Lewis, the affairs of others are no different.

That is why Christians are told not to judge. We see only the results which a man’s choices make out of his raw material. But God does not judge him on the raw material at all, but on what he has done with it. Most of the man’s psychological makeup is probably due to his body: when his body dies all that will fall off him, and the real central man, the thing that chose, that made the best of the worst out of this material, will stand naked.

C.S. Lewis
Mere Christianity

One of my favourite TV series characters, Reddington from The Blacklist, puts it this way: “The line between good and evil cuts through the hearts of all of us”. Think about it, if even killing someone could be self-defence in one scenario and cold blooded murder in another, how can we still think that any sin is a matter of black and white? Just as you cannot judge the act of killing someone by looking only at the dead body, you can’t judge someone by their actions alone.

Sometimes doing what is right one-dimensionally, comes at a huge cost to self and others, creating a myriad of grey areas that are difficult, and often painful, to navigate. To you declining a cigarette might be second nature; to a recovering heroine addict it might be a matter of breaking the camel’s back. Cigarettes may very well be bad for everyone’s health, but avoiding them is infinitely easier for some than it is for others. The same goes for sin. We all make our choices based on our own struggles, and although God hates all sin, he doesn’t separate the struggle from the choice. He judges with all the facts, as well as from a place of perfection.

No matter who you are, before you judge the wickedness of others, you had better remember this: you are also without excuse, for you too are guilty of the same kind of things! When you judge others, and then do the same things they do, you condemn yourself. We know that God’s judgement falls upon those who practice these things, God is always right, because he has all the facts. And no matter who you think you are, when you judge others who do these things and then do the same things yourself, what makes you think that you will escape God’s judgement?

Romans 2:1 – 3
The Passion Translation

Paul further calls us on our hypocrisy when he says in verse 18, 22 and 23: “And you claim to know the will of God, and to have the moral high ground… Why don’t you practice what you preach? You are swift to tell others.” He in fact goes as far as to say that “your actions seem to fulfill what is written: God’s precious name is cursed among the nations because of you” in verse 24. Our only hope lies in Christ and in the Holy Spirit working within us. He is the only one that can help us radiate with hope instead of reek of judgement.

Now, may God, the inspiration and fountain of hope, fill you to overflowing with uncontainable joy and perfect peace as you trust in him. and may the power of the Holy Spirit continually surround your life with his super abundance until you radiate with hope!

Romans 15:13
The Passion Translation

You see, the most beautiful part of looking at others without judgement is that it helps us look at ourselves in the same way. While looking for the good in others, we are able to see the good in ourselves and we ultimately realise that every good thing in us exists only by the grace of God. And therefore no-one really has anything of their own to be proud of.

It cures our illusions about ourselves and teaches us to depend on God. We learn, on the one hand, that we cannot trust ourselves even in our best moments, and, on the other, that we need not despair even in our worst, for our failures are forgiven. The only fatal thing is to sit down content with anything less than perfection.

C.S. Lewis
Mere Christianity

May we truly radiate the hope we find in Christ to illuminate the dark corners in the lives of those we meet, rather than cast a shadow of judgement. May our lives resound the prayer below – “Let them see, Lord, let them see.”

But knowing just how far You came for me

Gives me hope for every soul I meet

There’s no one so far gone that You can’t reach

So reach through me

Let them see, Lord, let them see

Source: LyricFind
Songwriters: Mark John Hall / Bernie Herms / Seth David Mosley / Matthew Joseph West
The Bridge lyrics © Kobalt Music Publishing Ltd., Sony/ATV Music Publishing LLC, BMG Rights Management

Photo by Michal Vrba on Unsplash

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