Our verse for today comes from John 7:51, ” Does our law judge a man before it hears him and knows what he is doing? “
In one of the many hilarious scenes from the 1972 movie, ” What’s Up, Doc ” , starring Ryan O’Neal and Barbra Streisand, the cast of characters is in a courtroom, standing before a judge, having been fished out of the San Francisco Bay after chasing one another all throughout the city. Each is yelling at the judge, and whoever else will listen, accusing one of the others for some illegal act, while the judge can make neither heads nor tales of the truth. Finally, the judge quiets the room and asks the police officer for the charges against the individuals. Not quite sure where to begin, the officer then begins to explain how they ended up in the Bay, and the judge itemizes the charges as he sees fit. Driving into the Bay? Unauthorized use of public waters. Mostly in stolen cars? Grand larceny. A shooting? Assault with a deadly weapon. Breaking into one’s home? That’s breaking and entering. Forced someone to come with them? Kidnapping. And so it went, charge after charge, all because of misunderstandings and confusions, and a whole bunch of innocent victims. Fortunately, our legal system, at least in most cases, is designed to operate somewhat better than a Hollywood script. And as the officers of the temple argued with the Pharisees over Jesus and His message, Nicodemus reminded them that their way is supposed to be one of fairness and due process.
It’s not easy to always give the benefit of the doubt. Quick is our tendency to judge first, listen later. We’ve seen enough junk, encountered enough poor behavior, or however the reasoning goes, to condition ourselves to expect the worst or tolerate the least. But grace shouldn’t look like that. And patience isn’t just for waiting in lines. People are messed up, and their guilty consciences and unfortunate circumstances heap more on them than we could know. So we aren’t called to be their judge. No condemnation from us will ever turn one towards Jesus. Our calling is love. Our role is as ambassadors, representing the Savior who longs to save.
As we seek Him today, cast love out to all who might offend, and leave the judging to Someone else.