Sentenced to Mercy
Bible Excerpt from Romans 2:1-11
You have no excuse, whoever you are, when you judge others; for in passing judgment on another you condemn yourself.
Reflection by William C. Green
Paul echoes Jesus’ words, “Do not judge, so that you may not be judged.” Like Jesus, he did not mean don’t be critical, but don’t be hypocritical–or presumptuous.
We easily project onto others troubling aspects of our own lives we refuse to address. Perhaps the Golden Rule also means, “Do ONTO others as you would have them do ONTO you”! It may be the log in our own eye we react to, in Jesus’ image, when it’s a speck in another’s. At least we should remember that there is always one fact more in every life of which we know nothing, and that might temper our judgment.
But the main concern here is about God’s judgment. Frederick Buechner says, God’s love “so wishes our joy that it is ruthless against everything in us that diminishes our joy. The worst sentence God’s love can pass is that we behold the suffering which it has endured for our sake, and that is also our acquittal. The justice and mercy of the judge are ultimately one.”
Mercy is a life sentence. It’s judgment when we forget that. It’s repentance when we accept it, because we see then how different life can be given this love. We’re spared having to earn or deserve it–which takes a lot of pressure off ourselves, and others. It’s no longer really about how good or bad we are, but whether we know what it means to accept being happy.
Merciful God, may we know the joy of your judgment. Amen.
About the Author
William C. Green has served in the local, Conference, and national settings of the United Church of Christ.
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