Wednesday, March 07, 2007

Jeremiah 3:6-18; Psalm 72; Romans 1:28-2:11; John 5:1-18

Have you ever watched someone be punished for something, then do the same thing yourself? How about those who drive under the influence? Stories of the horrors that can happen when people commit this act circulate around the news frequently, and yet people still commit the crime.

Judah is that drunken driver, in this respect. In Jeremiah 3:8, the Lord says, “I gave faithless Israel her certificate of divorce and sent her away because of all her adulteries. Yet I saw that her unfaithful sister Judah had no fear; she also went out and committed adultery.” Both Judah and Israel were moving away from God. But the Lord makes it very clear who was worse in Jeremiah 3:11, in which the Lord says, “Faithless Israel is more righteous than unfaithful Judah.” Observe that the Lord thinks Judah is worse because it had a chance to observe what happened to Israel, even though it can be assumed that Israel’s actions were the root of Judah’s.

Note that the little brother who copies your behavior is not as bad as you, despite what I’ve said above, because that child is not of equal maturity. If he were, then his actions would be worse. Therefore, when you observe the actions of others, you need to judge whether those actions are good or bad and act accordingly.

However, this seems to lead to a blatant contradiction. Throughout the Bible, it is stated explicitly several times that we should not judge. Romans 2:1 states, “You, therefore, have no excuse, you who pass judgment on someone else, for at whatever point you judge the other, you are condemning yourself, because you who pass judgment do the same things.” How do you resolve such a contradiction? Look at the entire statement. The Lord doesn’t just say “Don’t judge,” he says “Don’t judge because it makes you a hypocrite.” When Judah judged Israel – which it did because all humans do judge to some degree – its acts were even worse than before, because they committed those same acts. If they had been perfect, that is, if they had been God, then the judgment would have been appropriate. However, nobody is perfect, and everybody judges.

So what can we do? First, try not to think of others as less than yourself, for we all our equally imperfect in the eyes of God. Second, if we are going to judge, use that judgment to better the world. The key is this. When you observe the act of another which you judge to be unrighteous, do not be arrogant or haughty, but rather don’t copy what they are doing. Therefore, if you are wrong, your actions will be less egregious, and if you are right, the world will be a better place for it.

Jared Hallett

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