Staff & Sling

Joseph E. Hébert, Ph.D.

98119 N 3745 Rd
Okemah, OK  74859
918 623 3078

Judge Not

I had a dream a some days ago. I was somewhere in public and next to me was a twenty-something year old girl who was what I usually refer to as a PETA-freak vegan. As you might guess, I don’t harbor a great deal of respect for animal rights activists. In my mind they, and vicariously she in this dream, epitomize and symbolize all of those people who subject God to their own morality, who fancy themselves fit to judge God by their own sense of right and wrong. Anyway, in this dream there came to where we were a mean and vicious dog. It wasn’t actually threatening us yet, but it was plain that it had both the inclination and ability to do so at will. And just then a dog-catcher came along and killed the vicious dog.

The twenty-something year old PETA-freak vegan immediately began to rail against the dog-catcher. She called him "cruel" and "inhumane," and she berated him mercilessly. I wasted no time lighting into her with a barrage of righteous indignation to rival Jonah at Nineveh. I told her, in no uncertain terms, that the dog-catcher was a member of the government, ordained by God with the power of the sword to protect us, and that we, not the animals, had been created in God's image. I demanded "How dare you presume to condemn anyone for doing what God has decreed?!" I lit into her with both barrels, telling her both as bluntly and as pointedly as I could, that she had no business saying that it was wrong to eat animals when God had given them to us for food, and that she was wrong to say it is evil to use animal skins for clothing when it was God who showed us how. I demanded she tell me just who she thought she was!

Then, as can only happen in a dream, she suddenly and in slow motion changed from a twenty-something year old PETA-freak vegan know-it-all into a small five year old girl, transformed by the power of that two-edged sword which is God's Word, and traumatized by having witnessed the killing of that dog before her very eyes. And as quickly as my perception of her changed, so to my righteous indignation changed into compassion and a heartfelt desire to comfort her. As tenderly as I could I explained to her that the dog-catcher was only doing what God had ordained, protecting us. I explained to her that even though it was sad to see an animal killed, that it was okay because animals were not created in God's image. I went on to explain that God had given them to us for food, and had shown us how to use their skins for clothing.

Then God showed me that I told the little girl exactly the same thing that I had told her before. The only difference was my heart, my attitude, and that changed because of how I saw her.

Indeed, we are to be salt and light to the world around us. Light is the illumination that allows us to see things as they are. So of course we are supposed to shine into the darkened corners and shadows, revealing the sin and iniquity of this world for the unrighteousness it is. But we are to do so in a spirit of love, not spite. And that means we should take care that we see the lost as God sees them.

Have you ever seen people come out of a darkened theater into the bright afternoon sun? How do they react? They turn their faces away from the sun and shield their eyes with their hands. The recoil from the brightness of the light. We should expect no less from the lost as they are exposed to the light of righteousness.

Think of someone lost in a cave for days, maybe even weeks. Now imagine that you find that lost person. And when you make your way into the chamber where they are, with your headlamp shining brightly, how do you think they will react? They will turn their face away, and shield their eyes with their hands. They will, after weeks in darkness, recoil from the light.

Now consider how you might react. Will you lash out at them? Will you be offended?

"Well, if that's the way you feel then stay here and die! See if I care!"

Or will you perhaps take a more reasoned response?

"Well, if you're more comfortable in the dark I will respect your choice and leave you to it. After all, what's right for me may not be what's right for you."

Or will your heart go out to the lost person? Will you try to reassure them that everything's going to be fine, and that you know the way out? Will you seek to comfort them and help them adjust to the light? Will you even help their weakened legs to support their own weight, helping them to stand and move, or perhaps even carry them if necessary?

This is the essence of the scripture "Judge not, that ye be not judged," (Matthew 7: 1). We may see a twenty-something year old PETA-freak vegan snot-nosed know-it-all punk, but God sees a little child, frightened, confused and in need of comfort. Let’s try to remember that the next time we deal with a lost soul. Oh, to be sure, we should never be accepting of sin. And God forbid we should ever compromise His Word. But even though the unrepentant sinner deserves God’s judgment, His wrath, we should never forget that so do we. Moreover, the lost are no less deserving than we of His mercy. They sin no worse, and we sin no better. Unlike Jonah at Nineveh, we should never seek to find satisfaction in their destruction. Instead we should hope to find joy in their reconciliation to God.

If sinners be damned, at least let them leap to Hell over our bodies. If they will perish, let them perish with our arms about their knees. Let no one go there unwarned and unprayed for. Charles Spurgeon