a Way to Bless
Rather than
a Reason to Judge

by H. Wallace Goddard
Meridian Magazine

Humans have a tendency to categorize. When we confront a new person, we promptly (and often unconsciously) start a process of sorting that person into categories. Educated or not? Religious or not? Nice or not? Attractive or not? Articulate or not? Your filtering criteria may be different from mine, but it seems that we all sort people into categories based on whether they meet the qualifications that we judge to be important.

Jesus was often criticized for His failure to use appropriate filters. "Behold a man gluttonous, and a winebibber, a friend of publicans and sinners" (Matthew 11:19). Had He no standards? Jesus was gracious and supportive of adulterers, tax collectors, the blind, and lepers. We might wonder why the holiest among us was so undiscerning.

Hope for Human Understanding

The psychologist, Roy Baumeister has studied the human tendency to cultivate what he calls "the myth of pure evil." We imagine that people who do bad things do them with relish, without regret, and without regard for others.

Of course since the beginning of time, people on the other side of that judgment are looking back through that same dirty lens and seeing us as the first offenders rather than themselves. The cycle of recrimination never ends. There is no hope for human understanding. There is no hope for peace.

No hope except One. "For the natural man is an enemy to God, and has been from the fall of Adam, and will be, forever and ever, unless he yields to the enticings of the Holy Spirit" (Mosiah 3:19). The only hope for ending millennia of misunderstanding is to allow the Divine to remove the judging and categorizing that divide us.

We need to break the cycle. We need to overcome our automatic reactions and answer with heavenly balm.

Learning well when loved well

Humans do not learn well until they are loved well.

The natural man will respond, "So we just ignore right and wrong? We just have a big love-fest and fail to teach rightness?"

Nope. I'm saying that I must not launch into correction until I have my guidance system in order. When I have filled my soul with love and compassion, then I can say some inspired combination of hopeful truths.

We can only heal others when we love them rather than lacerate them.

We can never properly correct others unless we, filled with the Holy Spirit, feel love and respect for those we hope to help.

When the Holy Spirit fills us, we discover the same big category that all of us are in: the category of struggling and imperfect human beings.

(edited by David Van Alstyne)
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