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Let’s skip over the judgment thing and just be loved

by davesandel on October 13th, 2021

Wednesday, October 13, 2021                       (today’s lectionary)

Let’s skip over the judgment thing and just be loved

You, therefore, have no excuse, you who pass judgment on someone else, for at whatever point you judge another, you are condemning yourself, because you who pass judgment do the same things!

About thirty-five years ago (1987-88) I copied all 16 chapters of the book of Romans (New International Version) onto 3 x 5 cards, laminated them, punched a hole in the corner of each card, and put them all on a ring that I could carry around in my bag. I was a district sales manager for Jacques Seed Company. I drove around all day talking to farmers in my eleven Illinois counties.

Some days I’d prop one of the cards on my steering wheel, and repeat the verses over and over. Once I memorized the first card, I started on the second. But always I’d begin back at the beginning and recite my way up to the card that was in front of me.

This was such an intensive mental experience that I still remember where I was as I worked on a particular part of Romans (although I only got through chapter three). I was learning Romans 2:1 in a demonstration corn plot at the Farm Progress Show in Decatur, Illinois. I took a break from our sales and information booth.

The sky was blue, the air was crisp and Septembery, and the corn was ready to harvest. Brown leaves brushed my face and my blue Jacques jacket as I walked, alone, down one row and then another, repeating the verses. Over and over.

You therefore, have no excuse … you who pass judgment do the same things!

The psychological clarity of this verse caught me by surprise. A few years earlier I’d completed my master’s degree in counseling, and I didn’t expect the Bible to describe Freudian projection more clearly than Freud had himself. That Paul guy was wise!

These few verses continue to help me renew my commitment to the joy of righteous confession and forgiveness.

Perhaps you show contempt for the riches of his kindness, his forbearance and patience, not realizing that God’s kindness is intended to lead you to repentance.

When I begin to “show contempt for the riches,” the first verses of Romans 2 settle me back into faithfulness and help quiet my tendency to judge others. I don’t know about you, but that ugly spirit rises up in me still. I think it’s genetic, but not limited to my own family tree. I think we learned this too effective way of avoidance back in the garden of Eden.

But Eve made me do it!

Here’s a wonderful little poem Garrison Keillor shared on his website the other day:


by Kim Stafford

At the dinner table, before the thrown

plate, but after the bitter claim,

in that one beat of silence

before the parents declare war

their child, who until now had been

invisible, but who had learned in school

a catechism, speaks: “Would you like me

to help solve the conflict?” Silence.

They can’t look at each other. A glance

would sear the soul. A wall of fire plots

this Maginot line across the butter plate,

splits salt from pepper, him from her.

So their child speaks: “Three rules, then:

One—you have to let each other finish.

Two—you have to tell the truth. Three—

you have to want to solve the conflict.

If you say yes, we will solve it.

I love you.

What do you say?”

What is causing this family crisis? Both parents are doing what Jesus called out in the Pharisees, those “unseen graves”:

You impose on others burdens hard to carry, but you yourself do not lift a single finger to help them.

And what will resolve this family crisis? The child speaks:

  1. Let each other finish.
  2. Tell the truth.
  3. You have to want to solve the problem. If you say yes, we will solve it.

Their child knows this is true. She (why am I so sure this child is a girl?) speaks from a peace within herself that surpasses understanding. I’ve participated in Ruth Haley Barton’s Transforming Communities for nearly ten years, and we sing a Taize song, “In God Alone,” usually at Vespers or Compline, about this peace. It rises out of today’s psalm, Psalm 62:

Only in God is my soul at rest, from him comes my salvation. Only in God be at rest, my soul, for from him comes my hope.

Listen to this song. Let God give you peace. Rest without judgment in the accepting, firm, unshakable arms of God, and be loved.

(Romans 2, Psalm 62, John 10, Luke 11)        

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