2006-06-09 - Circumstantial Evidence
Matthew 7:1-5 NASB (Jesus said) Do not judge, so that you will not be judged. 2 For in the way you judge, you will be judged; and by your standard of measure, it will be measured to you. 3 Why do you look at the speck that is in your brother's eye, but do not notice the log that is in your own eye? 4 Or how can you say to your brother, 'Let me take the speck out of your eye,' and behold, the log is in your own eye?' 5 You hypocrite, first take the log out of your own eye, and then you will see clearly to take the speck out of your brother's eye.
Last night on the way home from choir practice, I drove home through an unsafe area of town - because of the delicious seafood offered at a nearby restaurant (I'll do anything for a good crabcake dinner!). As I drove by a beer outlet, my normally dependable vehicle suddenly shuddered and "gave up the ghost!" Going on sheer momentum, I was able to steer the car halfway off the busy road and into the driveway of the store, where it refused to budge. While I awaited a wrecker, because of the incident location, I called a male friend from choir - to help ensure safety (Even the burly wrecker driver told me he sometimes had to fight his way out the neighborhood) - and to help me move the vehicle off the busy roadway.
Now I enjoy an occasional glass of wine with a meal, but I didn't normally patronize liquor stores! So waiting (and waiting and waiting) with a good friend, it was quite a humorous and fun adventure, never to be forgotten and looked upon fondly! But this man's wife happened to be out of town on church business. Now if someone who didn't know us well, or someone gossipy, saw us shanging out at a liquor store after choir practice, they could easily get the wrong idea--and tongues could have begun wagging!
Don't we too often leap to conclusions, when we only see a brief glimpse of a picture? Perhaps we notice that someone is missing from church. We might hear comments about that person being lazy or just not being committed. But perhaps they have a hurt that needs attention. Maybe they are working on Sundays, or it could be as simple as an illness.
Conversely, sometimes people get bent out of shape because they claim someone - and often a church - doesn't care about them. But I can't tell you how many times I have seen this happen: The pastor and others find out by accident that a member is in the hospital or bed bound at home, or in the midst of some kind of struggle. People can't fill our needs, if we don't tell them the needs. Mind-reading is not a requirement of being Christian family. But sharing information about our lives is. According to Paul, we are to "rejoice with those who rejoice and weep with those who weep." If we don't share with others, we can't - nor can they - fulfill all of our mission. Christianity isn't a Lone Ranger religion. Sometime you might want to check out how many "one another" verses there are in the Bible. God intended this to be done in community, not in isolation "just between me and God." God's hands, feet, heart and eyes often come in the form of a Christian family member fleshing out Christ's love.
Or perhaps we see an ill-clothed child out and about with its mother. We may jump to the conclusion she is neglecting that child, when in reality she doesn't have the money to clothe him properly. I'm sure we could all think of examples. So what's a better response than assuming? If we won't see those people again, we should simply offer up a prayer for them. If we will, if we are in the position to do so, we should diplomatically see if there's anything we can do for them. We can offer our friendship and perhaps make a way to assist them.
I'm sure at one time or another, most of us have been misjudged. I know I have, and it was very frustrating. While the hurt is gone, and forgiveness happened a long time ago, I still remember the sense of unfairness and the desire to defend myself. Next time when you start jumping to conclusions about someone, apply the Golden Rule. What would you want someone to do if you were that person? Find out as much info as you can - and see if you need to help.
To be continued.