Have you not made distinctions among yourselves and become judges...James 2:4
I wonder what I would read if someone were able to compile a list of the “top ten most confessed sins”. I wonder how my personal sinfulness would “measure up” against the list…would mine be bigger, smaller, spicier or dull in comparison. The truth is, sin is sin and because of Adam and Eve, we are all born to sin, classifying and comparing it doesn’t do us any good. I’m sure God isn’t going to cross check my sins against the top ten list and give me extra credit for committing only the most commonly recognized sins.
In the second chapter of the book of James, he writes about what I would imagine just might be on that top ten sin list; Judgmental Thinking! As a society, I think we tend to put things into categories and create levels and comparisons. That’s fine if you’re sorting nuts and bolts, organizing your kitchen pantry or sorting your sock drawer but when we start letting that comparison thinking bleed into our interactions with people, then we need to give these words from St. James a careful read. When we begin to “size each other up” based on appearance, possessions or position and align ourselves with those who seem “desirable” according to societies standards, we will always come up short! Unless we look through God’s eyes we’ll miss the parts that really matter.
My Grandma told me once that when you choose a husband; make sure you pick a man that will help you get to heaven. (I followed her advice to a T and just so happen to be married to one of the two greatest men on earth ...my Dad being the other!) That’s sound advice in any relationship. Just because we might judge someone to be wealthy, successful or powerful doesn’t mean they are faithful or Godly. If our goal during our time on earth is to get to heaven, someone’s fancy shoes, flashy car or impressive resume isn’t an accurate indicator of their ability to help guide us to our ultimate destination.
As humans our vision is narrow. St. James cautioned against judgment and condemnation because only God can see us as a whole. Judging others using society’s standards and human eyes is about as useful as picking out a new car by looking only at the door handles! On Friday, Catholics will celebrate the Exaltation of the Cross and the Gospel reading that day will remind us that God did not send his Son into the world to condemn the world. John 3:17. If the ruler of the universe doesn’t condemn even the most sinful of us, that’s a pretty solid indication that it’s not a task that should occupy a spot on our to-do list.
As we let the words from St. James sink into our souls and re-shape our thinking, let’s remember to look at others through God’s eyes and each time we see a cross, recognize it as a symbol of our need to love and not judge or condemn. Maybe if we let the vision of the cross change our judgmental thinking that top ten sin list might drop to nine!
A seed to plant: Purposely put yourself in the company of someone this week you would not be in the habit of spending time with and share a kind and friendly conversation. It could be as brief as someone in the line at the grocery store of as significant as a trip to the soup kitchen...take down the walls of judgment and social classification and reach out! I'm willing to bet the blessing will be big!
Blessings on your day!
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