When the days were approaching for His ascension, He was determined to go to Jerusalem; and He sent messengers on ahead of Him, and they went and entered a village of the Samaritans to make arrangements for Him. But they did not receive Him, because He was traveling toward Jerusalem. When His disciples James and John saw this, they said, "Lord, do You want us to command fire to come down from heaven and consume them?" But He turned and rebuked them, and said, "You do not know what kind of spirit you are of; for the Son of Man did not come to destroy men's lives, but to save them." And they went on to another village. (Luke 9:51-56)
I wonder what it is in us that causes us to rush to judgment ... even if it involves death by fire from heaven. It is interesting to note that these folks believed they were in the right ... they believed that a village was worthy of fire just because they did not welcome their leader. Jesus seems to get to the heart of the issue when He rebukes the disciples and confronts the issue on a spiritual level. He says that they are in the dark about the kind of spirit they were operating out of. In some sense this kind of judgment gets it's power from a revengeful murderous spirit ... it is pretty scary.
A month or so ago I had lunch with some very old friends ... I had worked with both of these gentlemen for over 25 years ... they are sweet and precious men. As I sat there enjoying barbeque I became aware of something and began to tear up ... I really worked hard to hide the emotions I began to feel. As these men sat speaking of their devotion to Jesus I started to dial back about 20 years ... emotions come forth as I am thinking about this ... and remembered how I judged these men to be heathens because they did not believe the same way that I did ... I thought of them as cult members and not Christians. My heart breaks when I think about how, for a season of my life, I judged people on a wholesale basis ... denominational believers ... Roman Catholics ... others I deemed as cultic and not true believers.
Jesus comes down hard on judging others. He speaks to us today about judging others:
"Do not judge so that you will not be judged. "For in the way you judge, you will be judged; and by your standard of measure, it will be measured to you. "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? "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? "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."(Matthew 7:1-5)
Interesting that Jesus uses the word hypocrite ... I don't like that word ... speaks to motive ... I don't want to be called a hypocrite just because I judge someone. This is hard to hear but truly needed - we all judge each other ... every day we play the hypocrite. So, in light of this text, I'd like to confess my sins of judgment ... at least the ones that I am aware of ... I confess that I still judge people:
- that are overweight and struggle with dietary issues;
- in governmental positions - both political and religious;
- with tattoos and body piercings;
- that have been incarcerated;
- that don't know Jesus the way that I do.
Jesus, please forgive me for judging others ... cleanse me of the need to call down fire on the people who you came to rescue ... I renounce my desire to judge ... fill me up with your love and compassion for people ... especially those who are different from me.