Do you flinch? What do I mean by flinch? Do you recoil at others' bad news, offenses that have been done against them, or their sins? Are you appalled, confused, disgusted, judgmental or disappointed when you hear a surprising story about another person? Do you feel these things without ever even going to them to get the whole, or true story?
The point of today's column is that we are not to be judgmental of others' sins, nor the gossip we hear about them. We are to get the full story and have grace, even if they did sin.
And we are to find out the truth, because sometimes gossip is a lie and it can hurt someone else. Jesus always extended grace to people. We are to do the same.
Jesus did not flinch. When an adulteress actually caught in the act was brought to Him (in Jewish law one had to be caught with sufficient evidence provided to be accused), Jesus was able to stay present with her: â€œ'Woman, where are they? Has no one condemned you? Then neither do I condemn you,' Jesus declared. 'Go now and leave your life of sin' â€ (John 8:10b-11, Holy Bible, New International Version).
Jesus was able to sit with others' bad news â€” perhaps events that were not even their fault. And more important, He was able to endure their sins .?.?. and Jesus is supposed to be the example of what our Christian walk is to look like. Jesus did not condone the sin, but He definitely loved and supported individuals through it.
Unfortunately, I often see gossip and judgment from Christians in regard to what others are enduring, sometimes without going to the person themselves to see how they are actually doing, or even asked if it is true!
This is not how our Lord operated. He was there, asked questions, supported and forgave.
He was not shocked. He did not flinch.
I sat with another pastor in my community today. I was talking about how much I have changed and grown since I studied psychology at seminary. I was sharing that I had been a bit judgmental when my education consisted primarily of theology and I was in the pastorate. Perhaps I was even a bit pious.
As a Christian psychotherapist, I listen to people several days a week, sometimes working all day.
Some of these precious individuals are Christian; many are not. I will never reveal their stories, but I count each one an honor to listen to. My training and the life circumstances of myself and those around me have taught me not to flinch.
I am amazed at God's grace and redeeming nature.
We all struggle, we all sin, and we all have need of grace and forgiveness at times. And we all require that our story be heard, because so much judgment can come from others â€” even our brothers and sisters in Christ.
And this judgment can occur before facts have even been learned!
This is a sin itself. As Christians, we often eat our own and this was never Jesus' nature, nor His heart for us.
So I ask, â€œDo you flinch at others' bad news?â€ Ponder this question.
Enough said. I will leave the example of Jesus with you this day. It is, as He is, perfect, without further input from me.
REV. KIMBERLIE ZAKARIAN can be reached by e-mail at email@example.com or by mail at Holy House Ministries c/o the Rev. Kimberlie Zakarian M.S., La Vie Counseling Center, 650 Sierra Madre Villa, Suite 110, Pasadena, CA 91107.