There is a thought-provoking poem that goes like this: “I dreamed death came the other night and heaven’s gate swung wide. With kindly grace an angel ushered me inside. And there to my astonishment stood folks I’d known on earth. Some I’d judged and labeled, unfit, of little worth. Indignant words rose to my lips but never were set free—for every face showed stunned surprise: no one expected me.” The poem reminds us of something that Jesus clearly taught us, that is, that judgement belongs to God alone. We should not judge others. Of course, in spite of what Jesus says, we do it all the time. It is important, I think, to make the distinction between judging what other people might do and judging them. There are often times when we have to judge that a certain action, like stealing, or lying, or murder is wrong. But even as we judge the wrongness of the action, we must always remember that we can never see into the heart of the one performing it. We can never see the ignorance or fear or hopelessness, or compulsion that lies behind the action. Only if we understood that, could we judge the person. Yet only God sees and understands how responsible the person is for the evil they have done. There are times when we don’t even understand ourselves, when it’s hard for us to grasp our own motivations. How then can we ever hope to understand the motivations of others?
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