Exercising Good Judgment

| 02-25-AD2013 | [3]

Debi Vinnedge - Judgment

If we listen to the world which tells us that in order to be good Christians we must be “tolerant” of others no matter what their sin may be, we are not being Christian at all. Because what the world defines as Christian is not what God teaches us. The world tells us to not “judge” others – to be tolerant of sin – to water down the truth or to not speak at all.

But this is a sharp contrast to what Our Lord has to say. In Matthew 5:17 Jesus tells the apostles, “You are the salt of the earth; but if the salt has become tasteless, how can it be made salty again? It is no longer good for anything, except to be thrown out and trampled under foot by men. You are the light of the world. A city set on a hill cannot be hidden; nor does anyone light a lamp and put it under a basket, but on the lamp stand, and it gives light to all who are in the house. Let your light shine before men in such a way that they may see your good works, and glorify your Father who is in heaven.”

They took prayer out of schools and we “tolerated” it, just like we tolerate contraception, co-habitation, abortion, euthanasia, homosexuality and a host of other transgressions against God, so as not to “offend” anyone. Heaven forbid we should just speak the truth and impose our moral values on anybody!

Those who have the courage to do so are many times ridiculed and branded as “extremists”, “religious zealots”, “self-righteous”, “bible-thumpers”, “bigots” and “hate-mongers”. These labels are intended to discourage, intimidate and silence those who voice a moral opinion. Unfortunately, such tactics more often than not, work! And as a result, many keep silent, meaning many souls and lives are lost.

Let’s use the abortion issue as an example here.

A large number of those who say they are “pro-choice” actually mean, “Well, I personally would not have an abortion but I think a woman should have the right to choose.” How many times have we heard that one?

Yet we assume these same people realize that abortion is murder. We assume that they know what happens in an abortion. We assume that they know that a fetus is actually a human being. We assume that they know God has a purpose in all He creates. We assume all these things and then think, who are we to tell them what they already know?

And what of the woman who is thinking of having an abortion? Those who work in pregnancy crisis centers and have told them the truth may have not only saved the lives of countless innocent babies, but they also may have very well saved those mothers’ souls.

What if the nurse or doctor had never told them? What if they just assumed the person already knew what was going on with that tiny life inside them? What if they never showed them it was not just a blob of tissue, but a human being? What if they had just kept silent? Shouldn’t all people have the opportunity to be gently guided to the truth by word and example and then let God take control?

And we say to ourselves, “Oh but abortion is different – I would never keep silent about that!” But what makes one sin greater than another? God numbered the 10 Commandments but the only one Jesus emphasized as most important was love of God and neighbor. Because He knew that once that was mastered, everything else would fall easily into place. And in order to fully obey this command to love God and one another, we must be willing to speak His Truth to those who do not know it. This in itself is an act of love.

It is important to realize that when one is living in the state of sin, it may not be obvious to that person. We see the sin, shrug our shoulders and think there is nothing we can do or say that would change them. We assume everyone has been taught right from wrong and therefore everyone should know better. Yet to make such an assumption is to expect that all people have a deep abiding love of God in their hearts and a dedicated desire to live according to His will. If that were the case, we would be living in paradise on earth.

Now to be certain, Jesus never forced anyone to listen to him. In fact, He warned us about casting our pearls before swine: some people will never change their mind no matter what we say. But when presented with the opportunity to extend Christ’s teaching to others, it is our duty to open our mouths and speak with great compassion and gentleness.

If we simply keep quiet, we are choosing the easy way, not Christ’s way. Jesus told us to take up our cross and follow Him. No one ever said it would be painless or popular. And our cross is the same cross the apostles, martyrs and saints have carried for centuries. They were not afraid to speak the truth, even if it cost them their lives.

While we may not have to worry about being put to death for upholding Christ’s teaching, at least not yet in this country, we do need to decide whether we care more about what others may think of us, or what God thinks of us, because when we fail to help those who live in darkness, we are essentially denying them – and possibly ourselves — the right to gain entrance into heaven.

In the Book of Leviticus, God instructs Moses to tell the people, “Nor shall you stand by idly when your neighbor’s life is at stake….Though you may have to reprove him, do not incur sin because of him.” And in Matthew 10:33, Jesus warns that whoever denies Him, He too shall deny before His heavenly Father.

Are we not then denying Christ when we deny His love, His teachings and the opportunity for eternal happiness to others by our silence? In fact, are we not already judging that person when we decide he simply will never listen to what we have to say, so why bother?

So what about where the Bible says, “Do not judge, or you too will be judged”? (Matthew 7:1) Well, anytime someone takes a single line of Scripture out of context, using it for his own convenience, trouble is sure to follow. Here is what one biblical commentary says about that particular passage:

“Jesus warns us not to assume God’s prerogative to condemn the guilty, but he is not warning us not to discern truth from error. Further, Jesus does not oppose offering correction, but only offering correction in the wrong spirit, as in Galatians 6:1-2: ‘Brothers, if someone is caught in a sin, you who are spiritual should restore him gently…Carry each other’s burdens, and in this way you will fulfill the law of Christ.”

By speaking the truth we are not passing judgment. We are not telling others we are better than them especially when we voice our compassion. By telling people who are in error that we care deeply about them and we want to ensure their eternal happiness in heaven, we are being honest and loving – not condescending or judgmental.

And while Jesus made it quite clear that all judgment would be left to his heavenly Father that did not stop him from repeatedly warning and correcting the Pharisees. They were in a position to teach God’s word, yet they failed to do so, worrying more about their position, their politics and their own social status. They judged others harshly according to the laws of man, not according to the laws of God. And Jesus had no problem telling them they were wrong.

“…For I say to you that unless your righteousness surpasses that of the scribes and Pharisees, you will not enter the kingdom of heaven.” (Matthew 5:25)

So are we going to selfishly allow others to live in darkness, when we possess the light? For certain, some of the seed we scatter will fall on rocky ground, but some will also fall on the rich soil where God will water it with His loving grace and make it grow and multiply. God does not demand success in our efforts, but only that we try. But unless we take that first step, we can never know how the smallest act of kindness or the right word at the right time could change a person forever. And while we may never see it in our lifetime, we can be assured of knowing the fruits and rewards of our labors – or lack thereof, in eternity.

We would all do well to remember that we only have to answer to God in the end – and He will certainly judge righteously!

About the Author:

Debi Vinnedge is the Executive Director of Children of God for Life, a non-profit, pro-life organization focused on the bioethics issues of human cloning, embryonic and fetal tissue research. In addition she serves as a member of the Board at Sound Choice Pharmaceutical Institute and her organization is an official member of the American Life League Associates program. Ms Vinnedge has been a guest speaker on major national television and radio broadcasts, including Fox News’ Hannity & Colmes,Vatican Radio, Ave Maria Radio, EWTN, Human Life International and Living His Life Abundantly. Her work has been featured in leading Catholic publications such as Our Sunday Visitor, New Covenant Magazine, EWTN Question and Answers, EWTN’s Ethics in Healthcare, American Life League's Celebrate Life, the National Catholic Register, Human Life International Reports and numerous diocesan newsletters and periodicals, including the Vatican’s Medicini e Morale. She resides in Largo, FL and has been married 38 years with 2 children and 6 grandchildren.
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