Judgment, Intentions and Actions
By WILLIAM PRENTISS
“Judge not that ye be not judged. For with what judgment ye judge, ye shall be judged: and with what measure ye mete, it shall be measured to you again.” — Matthew 7:1-2
I often heard in childhood that we are prone to judge others by their actions but ourselves by our intentions. Should we not judge ourselves more harshly than we judge others? I make allowances for my multitudinous shortcomings because I suppose I mean well when I don’t perform as I should, but when others fail I am quick to look only at their actions and not their intentions—height of hypocrisy!
I lie here in a supposed catatonic state unable to communicate with anyone but God, unable to make amends with those I offended, hurt or misunderstood, unable to say “I’m sorry,” and unable to hear, “I forgive you!”
God forgives me because that is what he does and wants to do when we ask him to do so. He alone can separate us from our missing-the-mark actions. I have asked him to forgive me for all my past sins and even have tried to enumerate them when possible. I believe he has done so. I am unable to wrong anyone else in the flesh as I lie in this bed and only think, yet I do wrong others and God because my mind is still a very selfish entity.
Judging others is something I am adept at, and it grieves the Lord. I think too harshly of others when I know little or nothing of their circumstances. I am thankful that they cannot hear my thoughts. I am thankful the Lord keeps my reflections between Him and me. But, if I was truly a “thankful” person, I would give to others the grace I allow myself, the very grace God gives me based on His loving nature and not on my sinful one.
Tolstoy wrote in today’s devotional, “Stop blaming other people, and you will feel what an alcoholic feels when he stops drinking, or what a smoker feels when he stops smoking. You will feel that you have brought relief to you soul.”
A soul freed from the guilt-ridden burden of past actions and present castigating pontifications is free to want the same for others. Dr. Luke quoting Jesus said, “For this reason I say to you, her sins, which are many, have been forgiven, for she loved much; but he who is forgiven little, loves little.”
I have been forgiven much for I have sinned much, so I need to love much, and love does not include me judging others for the same things I do. God help me to appropriate your forgiveness and love. Help me to think of others more highly than myself.
MORNINGS WITH TOLSTOY consists of the inner reflections of a man in a coma, the victim of a senseless beating. He can only hear, and no one knows this, but maybe his sister. Sis reads three devotional pieces daily and the internal dialogue reflects his response to them.