Tag Archives: judging

God doesn’t discriminate

In the world we live in there’s so much proclivity for physical beauty. In an average girl’s eyes, a cute guy is one who is tall, and bears a six pack. In an average guy’s eyes on the other hand, a beautiful woman is one who has voluptuous boobs, an endowed bum and basically has an hour glass shape. That is how we measure beauty. But does God judge the same way?

In 1 Samuel 16: 1-13, The Lord said to Samuel, “How long will you continue grieving over Saul? I have rejected him as king of Israel. But now get some olive oil and go to Bethlehem, to a man named Jesse, because I have chosen one of His sons to be king.”

“How can I do that?” Samuel asked. “If Saul hears about it he will kill me!”

The Lord answered, “Take a calf with you and say that you are there to offer a sacrifice to the Lord. Invite Jesse to the sacrifice, and I will tell you what to do. You will anoint as king, the man I tell you to.”

Samuel did what the Lord told him to do and went to Bethlehem, where the city leaders came trembling to meet him and asked, “Is this a peaceful visit, seer?”

“Yes,” he answered. “I have come to offer a sacrifice to the Lord. Purify yourselves and come with me.” He also told Jesse and his sons to purify themselves and he invited them to the sacrifice. When they arrived, Samuel saw Jesse’s son Eliab and said to himself, “This man standing here in the Lord’s presence is surely the one He has chosen.”

But the Lord said to him, “Pay no attention to how tall and handsome he is. I have rejected him, because I do not judge as man judges. Man looks at the outward appearance, but I look at the heart.”

Then Jesse called his son Abinadab and brought him to Samuel. But Samuel said, “No, the Lord hasn’t chosen him either.” Jesse then brought Shammah. “No, the Lord hasn’t chosen him either,” Samuel said. In this way Jesse brought seven of his sons to Samuel. And Samuel said to him, “No, the Lord hasn’t chosen any of these.” Then he asked him, “Do you have any more sons?”

Jesse answered, “There is still the youngest, but he is out taking care of the sheep.”

“Tell him to come,” Samuel said. “We won’t offer the sacrifice until he comes.” So Jesse sent for him. He was a handsome, healthy young man, and his eyes sparkled. The lord said to Samuel, “This is the one-anoint him!” Samuel took the olive oil and anointed David in front of his brothers. Immediately the Spirit of the Lord took control of David and was with him from that day on. Then Samuel returned to Ramah.

Naturally, if it was just some random human being looking to choose a king, they would have picked Eliab; he was tall and handsome. Even Samuel thought he would be anointed as king. And after God rejected him, one would expect one of his other brothers- except David- would be chosen. But God surprised them all when He picked David, who was the youngest and smallest of Jesse’s sons. No one saw it coming.

God made it evidently clear; He, unlike human beings, doesn’t look at the outward appearance; He looks at the heart. Sometimes when one is feeling so downcast, they feel God wouldn’t look their way either because they have committed something they feel guilty about or because they suffer from a certain disease.

The readings above make one thing irrefutably certain; He doesn’t see the blemishes; He doesn’t see the crime committed; He only looks at the heart. If one feels God wouldn’t consider them for a favour, they shouldn’t look at their physical appearance, but their heart. Therefore, in my opinion, we should not judge people by their appearances but by their hearts, just as God, whom we serve does.

‘Don’t judge a book by its cover’; that is an adage I heard when I was very small. It doesn’t apply to books only. If one decided to judge a book’s contents based on its cover, there are numerous books that would be gathering dust on bookshelves, unread. I speak from experience; if the books I’ve read are anything to go by, some of the books with the most unattractive covers turn out to be the most interesting.

love thy neighbour

That said, next time don’t disregard someone just because they don’t match your expectations. They could surprise you-in a good way of course. Give people a chance; let them show you who they are. If you end up dismissing them, let it not be because you assumed them, but because you have interacted with them and don’t like them. Whatever the case, don’t judge; don’t discriminate.

Judging ‘men of the cloth’

men of cloth

Everytime I’m dealing with other people, I always remind myself, that just like me, they’re also human. It doesn’t matter if one’s a priest or a renowned celebrity; we’re all human. And to be human is to err. A few years ago, when I was in my last year of high school, I came across a friend’s prayer book. While perusing through the pages I saw an interesting piece. It wasn’t exactly a prayer, but the words changed my entire perspective on how I deal with religious people.

It was written that everytime one sees/hears a priest doing/saying wrong things, one shouldn’t go about discussing them but they should pray for them. At the time, I remembered all the weird things I’d heard about priests… Just because they’re ordained to lead God’s flock doesn’t stop them from being human. I remembered all the rumours I’d heard about some priests having affairs with women when they were sworn to celibacy; I remembered of a particular priest, who always came to celebrate mass with his eyes red as cherries because he’d been drinking. I remembered of a certain priest, who was alleged to have fathered a girl I schooled with.

Before that day I had freely taken part in talking about those ordained men of God; criticizing them for their misdemeanours. Normally, when we see/hear wrong things about others, even when we can’t quite do anything about it, we discuss it with others. That piece opened my eyes though. Priests and other men of God are representatives of Christ, but at the end of the day, it still doesn’t change the fact that these same people are only human. They are prone to temptations just like any person.

It’s like teachers; they fall in love with their students even when they know it’s against school policy. We don’t will for these things to happen; they just happen. As I read that book I realized we also had a responsibility to pray for our shepherds. It takes more than enough will to walk on a straight path. I know it’s not as easy.

A few months ago, I was following three telenovelas. Naturally a large part of the Spanish population is Catholic. As I watched the three soaps at different times, something happened; in all the three soaps, three priests had been made privy to life-changing confessions, and none of them could reveal any of the information as they had received it under the secrecy of confession. I couldn’t help pitying them.

Priests know so many things but they can’t reveal any of it as they’re bound by the confession oath-the seal of the confessional-which prohibits them from repeating anything revealed to them during the sacrament of penance. I imagined what strength it took walking around, carrying such heavy loads on their shoulders and I came to one conclusion; it’s not easy being a man of God-the real anointed ones, not the fake ones. It takes strength to defy all temptations, especially knowing that they are under public scrutiny, and that above all they made a solemn vow to God; to be priests forever.

In some unfortunate instances, unscrupulous men hide behind the cloth and commit preposterous obscenities, but there are those genuine men/women of God, who in their human weaknesses falter and make wrong choices. The best thing to do is not to sit and judge, but to pray for them.

In my opinion, being an anointed servant of God shouldn’t stop one from being subjected to the law of man; don’t do the crime if you can’t do the time… but I believe prayers help put things into perspective. In the wake of all the atrocities committed by the servants of God, who we put so much faith in but who many detest now, I feel that it’s our duty as their flock to pray for them.

In Colossians 4: 2-4, Paul says, “Be persistent in prayer, and keep alert as you pray, giving thanks to God. At the same time, pray also for us, so that God will give us a good opportunity to preach His message about the secret of Christ…”

We may not be able to help the choices they make, but we can intercede for them, so that God guides them as they spread His word.

 

 

‘Choir girl’ pregnancies

This past Sunday in church I saw this girl who had been M.I.A for a few Sundays because she’d taken a maternity break. She came back with a baby swaddled in pink, so I’m assuming she got herself a lovely baby girl. She’s an active member of the choir.

I’ve never talked to her really, but seeing her got me all excited. I guess it’s because I knew her as a young petite girl and now I was seeing her with her very own child. I guess part of me couldn’t believe it yet. Funny thing is I saw her throughout the period she was expectant.

In my excitement I shared the news with my family after church. I don’t know her name, so I call her ‘choir girl’. So I said, “Guess who showed up in church today with a baby.” My small sister was quick to say my cousin’s name. I said, “No, the choir girl.”

My sister was thrilled. “Wow,” she exclaimed.

Mom asked, “Is she married?” And seeing as I don’t know the first thing about the girl I just replied honestly, “I don’t know if she’s married, but I doubt it.”

“That’s a very bad example they are giving,” mom complained.

“Why? Because she’s a choir girl?” I asked.

“They make it seem okay. Kids will start getting the wrong impression.” Mom didn’t really expound on her statement, because in a way it was self-explanatory. The said girl got pregnant and still showed up in church, regardless of there being high chances that she wasn’t married. In a way, that would be like validating premarital sex.

“But don’t you see mom, she still came back to church,” my big sister argued.

“She took the baby to the priest to have her blessed,” I added.

“See mom?” my big sister said.

“She did?” Mom asked, apparently awed. Her earlier stance on the matter seemed to soften.

I’m thinking, from mom’s and many parents’ perspective, young kids would translate that as a green light to engaging in premarital sex. I don’t support the whole idea of kids ‘playing house’ with each other but nowadays with all the digital evolution where any porn material is just a click away, it would be foolish to ignore the serious fact that babies are having sex, and many girls are ending up pregnant.

It might not be possible to prevent young kids from having sex, but one thing I know is that we can act responsibly when babies are conceived in the process. For starters, I don’t support abortion one bit. Naturally this is a very controversial issue but the principal reason I take that stand is because life is precious and sacred. Any life, be it a day old embryo or a fully grown human being deserves to be treated as such.

That brings me back to the choir girl. When young girls end up pregnant, whether their parents are church leaders or not, whether the girls themselves hold important positions in the church, I feel that no one should be ostracized from the church and other social gatherings or even treated like sinners simply because they conceived out of wedlock. I’d love to believe those days are long gone.

Sometimes I feel the society is responsible for many wrong things that happen. If we can’t prevent young unmarried girls from getting pregnant, we can atleast point them to the right directions. Help them make the right decisions post-conception. Personally, I admired the ‘choir girl’ for  her bold step to find her way back into the church when there was a high possibility many people would be looking at her situation from mom’s perspective; judging and all.

I didn’t say this to mom, lest she started thinking that’s what I was contemplating; but I imagined, maybe the girl wanted a baby but she still wasn’t ready to get tied down to anyone. We can’t pretend that’s not happening nowadays. In the wake of many failed marriages, it would appear people are not so enthusiastic about getting hitched.

Speaking from a Christian’s perspective, I feel condemning people because of the choices they make is just unChristlike. A Christian’s work is not to watch from the sidelines, judging people, but to do what Jesus would have done; embracing all. He never turned anyone away; it didn’t matter to Him if one had a litany of transgressions. So really, who are we to judge?

Love changes people

love changes

The term ‘Christian’ is so common. Basically it refers to someone who is a follower of Christ; someone who is Christ-like; but it so happens that many call themselves Christians, yet they hardly act like it. Personally I’m a Christian and I feel that sometimes we are so quick to condemn others; we judge them, take them to hell before they’re even dead. We shun people who we deem sinners; we refuse to mingle with them:

“She’s a prostitute,” one says. “I can’t be associated with her.”

“He’s gay,” another one says. “I can’t let people see us together.”

“She goes partying in clubs,” another one says, “That’s a sin.” These are some of the conversations I’ve heard. Once there’s this friend who posted on his fb page how he had felt extremely shaken when a guy he’d been hanging out with confessed he was gay. He was seeking public opinion via his page, if he should continue his association with the said gay guy. Out of curiosity, I read the comments, and I must say the things people said were awful. In my head I was like, “Christianity preaches against gayism, but this ain’t right.”

Then in another instance, which was more personal, I was chatting with a guy. The conversation got to a point where he asked if I ‘drink’. I didn’t think there was anything to lie about so I told him, “Yeah, sometimes I do.” Before I knew it he was calling me a sinner; saying how much I was shaming the church…by the time I decided to end that conversation he had told me some pretty nasty stuff. I felt offended that he would presume to judge me, but I laughed so hard, he got offended.

He thought I was mocking him, but I explained to him why I found his criticism hilarious: to start with, I rarely drink, and when I do, I keep it to a maximum of two glasses of wine (except for this one time I took more, but I only got tipsy; by the time my friends and I left the club, after lots of dancing and taking plenty of water, my head was clear). So I wouldn’t be lying if I said I’ve never been drunk my entire life… with that in mind, I found it hilarious when he called me a sinner…and not to mention that I know very many Christians who take alcohol and are wonderful people.

I did a little ‘digging’ about partaking in alcohol being considered a sin; I asked a priest to shed light on the matter. He told me the mere act of drinking isn’t really a sin; what comes out is what matters; you know people acting crazy and stuff because they’re inebriated…

I found it unbelievable that he would blatantly call me a sinner; last I checked, we’re all sinners, but somehow some people end up feeling like they’re lesser sinners than others. Nowadays I choose not to take alcohol, but for me it’s a personal choice; it has nothing to do with being branded a sinner.

Such instances leave me wondering why someone would want to judge others when they call themselves a Christian. The term is derived from ‘Christ’; those who follow Him. If I was to refer to bible verses where Jesus mingles with ‘sinners’, I would be basically making reference to the larger part of the New Testament.

Jesus taught us to love our neighbours without judging: when people wanted to stone the woman who had been accused of prostitution (John 8:7), He said, “Let he who is without sin cast the first stone.”

In another instance He condemned judging, talking about people seeing specks in other people’s eyes when they had logs in their own eyes (Matthew 7). With respect to this, I know I’ve got huge logs in my eyes, so I prefer to let God be the judge in everything.

Hypothetically, these people we call sinners are indeed sinners; but question is, if we treat them like outcasts, who will change them? Jesus loved everyone; He didn’t look at their occupations, at their sexual orientation…He just loved them. When He visited Zacchaeus (Luke 19:1-10) for instance, He didn’t condemn him because he was a thief. He said, “The Son of Man came to seek and to save the lost.” That’s how we as Christians are called to act; without discrimination. He set the precedent; to love others. I don’t recall verses where He shooed someone off because they were sinners; if we call ourselves His followers, why would we judge? Why would we discriminate?

It’s not our place to judge. We should love even those we feel are straying; because it’s only by showing them love that we can pull them back on track. In my opinion, the only time a person should stay away from someone they consider ‘a sinner’ (pardon the choice of word), would be if one is afraid they’re not strong enough; that they could be negatively influenced by the other person into straying, because it makes no sense if one ends up stealing because they were trying to get a thief to ‘see the light’…

Speaking from experience, it’s easier to change a person by showing them love as opposed to criticizing and condemning them. Personally, I feel more inclined to take someone’s advice if they seem compassionate; if they come off as harsh I get all defensive, and I have reason to believe that’s how a vast majority ‘functions’. No one likes to be judged.

‘What would Jesus do?’ That’s a question I use as my reference when faced with a situation where I’m not sure what I should do…and based on the scriptures, the answer would revolve around love; it’s the greatest of all virtues.

love