Again today the Letter of James stops me at the first line. Do not complain, brothers and sisters, he says, that you may not be judged. (JAS 5:9). I actually didn’t even need the second half of that dictum to know the importance of the message. I hope I’m past the “God’s gonna get you” motivation and onto the example of Jesus as the model for my speech and actions. But as I think again I realize how automatic judging others is if I see everything from my own perspective, my own frame of reference in looking at the world. It’s hard to get out of our own mind to see through the eyes of others.
Examples abound in society, the clearest one at the moment being the national political campaign in the United States this year. What comes to mind when I hear the name Donald Trump…or Hillary Clinton…or Bernie Sanders? How convinced am I that my ideas on the matter are the correct ones? More to the point, am I willing to allow the ideas of others who do not hold the same point of view? Am I willing to entertain that point of view by really listening to another or am I totally dismissive, convinced that I am correct in my judgment?
More important, perhaps, in my everyday living are the judgments I make about the people I encounter. Am I willing to look beyond words or actions to the depths of the persons about whom I am complaining? Do I know what might be motivating behaviors that I find unacceptable? The rush to judgment is sometimes so automatic that I haven’t even given the person a chance! We judge on looks and manner of speech and level of education and what people do to earn a living instead of what we don’t know of their lives. We complain about the person at home or at work who isn’t as productive as we consider ourselves to be, without having the slightest inkling of the thoughts of their hearts or the depth of their relationship with God.
I sound as if I’m ranting – and, actually, as if I’m complaining about everyone who isn’t like me! Not so! I just find it sad that we miss so much goodness because we are programmed somehow to see things without really seeing them. Today is a day to try looking with the eyes of God – both looking in and looking out in love. A worthy project indeed.