Epiphany VI - February 16, 2020
St. Martin in the Field Episcopal Church, Selbyville, DE
Let me be the first to say that I have failed on all four counts. I’ve been angry and thrown around a few insults. I have lusted in my heart. I have been divorced and remarried. And, I have not always kept my word.
I think it has to do with “Judge not, lest ye be judged.” And, “Judgment belongs to God.”
Put differently, when people were lead to believe they had a negative trait, they were more likely to see this negative trait in others. In doing so, they were less likely to think they had the trait themselves.
In other words, by seeing the other person negatively on a trait, people came to have a higher regard for themselves on that trait.
Earlier studies had shown that when our self-esteem is threatened (like when we are told we are unattractive) we are more likely to degrade others.
If you tell a person – especially a young person or a child – enough times that they are dumb or incapable, they begin to believe it.
These studies have been done for years, but I suspect Jesus knew all this about the human condition way back when, before there was even a discipline known as psychology.
It seems to me that Jesus is leveling the judgment field. Don’t judge a murderer if you have known murderous anger in your heart. And, don’t judge someone who has committed adultery if you have lusted after another.
Don’t judge someone who is divorced because they have broken a vow. And live your life so righteously that you don’t have to swear on a stack of bibles so that others will believe you.
Live your life so that people know that your ‘yes’ is yes and your ‘no’ is no.
To see in others what we hate in ourselves is very human. We do it all the time. It’s part of what we call ‘projection’.
One of my favorite authors is a woman named Anne Lamott. She takes this human trait to another level when she says, “You can be quite certain that you have created God in your own image when it turns out that God hates all the same people you do.”
“Well, that’s obvious,” said Father, his voice dripping with disdain.
As my friend, Howard, often says, "Some people use scripture to determine what love is, but Jesus uses love to determine what scripture says."
and to act faithfully is a matter of your own choice.
stretch out your hand for whichever you choose.
and whichever one chooses will be given.