Some recent highly publicised criminal proceedings stirred up some thoughts on my own propensity towards sin. As gossips and comments went rife both online and offline, some were quick to pronounce guilt and judgement on the alleged perpetrators. Somehow, I found myself reticent to say much, but mulled over the circumstances behind the acts. At the same time, God’s word on judgement came to me in two settings during my devotional time:
“Do not judge, or you too will be judged. For in the same way you judge others, you will be judged, and with the measure you use, it will be measured to you.“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? How can you say to your brother, ‘Let me take the speck out of your eye,’ when all the time there is a plank in your own eye? 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.
Matthew 7:1-5 (NIV1984)
When Jesus instructed the original audience, the religious and the Pharisees, not to judge, he did not call them to arrest their moral discernment; instead, it was not to seek their righteousness through comparison to the less virtuous but to repent. As there was a standard they apply to others, this same standard will be applied to them. God’s word is a mirror for us to spot our own imperfections, before we can point out that of others.
And when I look at the alleged perpetrators of the various offences, somehow God struck my heart with a fear: that could be me. I too, for the love of money, could have harboured ‘foolish and harmful desires that plunge men into ruin and destruction’ (1 Tim 6:9), or to seek illicit pleasures due to lust. What makes me think that I could take confidence in my virtuosity or moral strength when I know that my heart is prone to wander and inclined to sin? Would I have stood unwavered in the face of similar temptations? If there’s any confidence, it must and could only be in the Cross of Christ and the grace of God.
The song Pieces of You by Jewel kept coming back as I thought about the criminal cases. It was a song that spoke out against the bigotry, prejudice and hatred in the hearts of men. And the ones whom we hate could be just pieces of us – acts, behaviours and thoughts unseen by others and perhaps even unknown by us.
You say he’s a faggot, does it make you want to hurt him?
You say he’s a faggot, do you want to bash in his brain?
You say he’s a faggot, does he make you sick to our stomach?
You say he’s a faggot, are you afraid you’re just the same?
Faggot, Faggot, do you hate him
‘Cause he’s pieces of you?
You, therefore, have no excuse, you who pass judgment on someone else, for at whatever point you judge another, you are condemning yourself, because you who pass judgment do the same things. Now we know that God’s judgment against those who do such things is based on truth. So when you, a mere human being, pass judgment on them and yet do the same things, do you think you will escape God’s judgment? Or do you show contempt for the riches of his kindness, forbearance and patience, not realizing that God’s kindness is intended to lead you to repentance?
What God calls all of us to is simply repentance.