“Who are you to judge someone else’s servant? To their own master, servants stand or fall. And they will stand, for the Lord is able to make them stand” (Romans 14:4).
“By judging others we blind ourselves to our own evil and to the grace which others are just as entitled to as we are.”
― Dietrich Bonhoeffer, The Cost of Discipleship
“It is the Holy Spirit’s job to convict, God’s job to judge and my job to love.”
― Billy Graham
“We shall, as we ripen in grace, have greater sweetness towards our fellow Christians. Bitter-spirited Christians may know a great deal, but they are immature. Those who are quick to censure may be very acute in judgment, but they are as yet very immature in heart. He who grows in grace remembers that he is but dust, and he therefore does not expect his fellow Christians to be anything more; he overlooks ten thousand of their faults, because he knows his God overlooks twenty thousand in his own case. He does not expect perfection in the creature, and, therefore, he is not disappointed when he does not find it. … I know we who are young beginners in grace think ourselves qualified to reform the whole Christian church. We drag her before us, and condemn her straightway; but when our virtues become more mature, I trust we shall not be more tolerant of evil, but we shall be more tolerant of infirmity, more hopeful for the people of God, and certainly less arrogant in our criticisms.”
― Charles H. Spurgeon, Spurgeon’s Sermons Vol. 1-10
As I reflected in a previous post, the problem we face is that the desire to see evil judged is made more complicated by they fact that we are often the ones in the wrong…. I need to humbly reconise that the bad things we see in the world and wish God would prevent or punish in others is right there inside of me.1
I want both God’s justice (exposing the truth about our wrong) and mercy (forgoing the negative consequences we deserve). Sometimes God saves by judging2 – but I’m with Billy Graham and the Bible. Our job is to do the loving.
- A bit of an adaptation of: “The evil we so much wish God would prevent or punish in others is right there inside ourselves” (Christopher Wright, God I don’t understand p. 34). ↩
- By judging our evil, by naming it for what it is, by penetrating our denial and self-delusion, God begins saving us. (McLaren, A Generous Orthodoxy, p 95) ↩
Yesterday Jonathan Sacks gave his last Thought for the Day he’ll be giving in his present role as Chief Rabbi in Britain. Stepping down from his role, at the end of this month, he shows a keen eye for the role of faith in society. Thank you Lord Sacks for your contribution to the clarion call to love others with the love that God has for each one of us:
This is the last thought for the day I’ll be giving in my role as Chief Rabbi. On Sunday I induct my successor, Chief Rabbi Ephraim Mirvis, and before then I wanted to say thank you for the privilege of serving as a religious leader in a society where there’s genuine respect for other people’s religious beliefs or lack of them; that understands what I call the dignity of difference. And if you were to ask me what I have cherished most these past 22 years, it’s been the chance to see the difference faith makes to people’s lives.
I’ve seen it do its work in Jewish communities throughout the Commonwealth, moving people to visit the sick, give hospitality to the lonely and help to those in need. You don’t need to be religious to be moral, but it makes a huge difference to be part of a community dedicated to being a blessing to others.
I’ve seen faith help holocaust survivors to survive and not be traumatised by their memories. I saw it help my late father survive four difficult operations in his eighties, so that he, who had come to this country as a refugee, could be there to see his son inducted as a chief rabbi. It was the faith I learned from him that kept me going through some of the worst crises of my life.
Faith brought our people into being almost forty centuries ago when Abraham and Sarah heard God’s call to leave home and begin a journey that is not yet complete and won’t be, until we learn to make peace with one another, recognising that not just us but even our enemies are in the image of God.
Faith isn’t science. It’s is not about how the world came into being but about why. I believe that God created the universe and us in love and forgiveness, asking us to love and forgive others. And though that’s often very hard, I believe faith still makes it more likely than if we think that the universe just happened, that humanity is a mere accident of biology, and that nothing is sacred.
And yes it seems as if sometimes we have just enough religion to make us hate one another, and not enough to make us love one another. But the answer to that is more faith not less. Faith in God who asks us to love others as he loves us. That’s faith’s destination and there’s still a way to go.