Jesus told us very clearly that we are not to judge other people and Paul repeated it. So it must be really important for the living of the Christian life. Yet Christians have not made a name for themselves as people who avoid condemning each other, let alone other people. On the contrary we have, all too often, taken to ourselves the role of judge; a role that Scripture tells us belongs only to God. We have seen schisms occur and congregations split through Christians rejecting and condemning each other for holding a different opinion. It is as though we just can’t let God be God; we have to take over God’s role ourselves. But then that is at the root of sin. Those evergreen stories in the beginning of Genesis make it clear that sin arises because humans try to take over God’s role whether its over issues like deciding what is good and what is evil (Genesis 3:1-7) or trying to make a name for themselves (Genesis 11:4). It is not for us to take over God’s role; it is however for us to follow God in the way that God deals with us. A good example here is that of forgiveness. We seek forgiveness. We welcome God’s forgiveness. We find peace and security in knowing that we are forgiven and through that forgiveness reconciled to God. We bask in the generous love of God. But we are not just called to accept our forgiveness; we are called to reflect God’s ways in our relationships with other people. If a readiness to forgive lies at the heart of God then a similar readiness to forgive must lie within our own hearts. So important is this that Jesus included it in his model prayer: “Forgive us our sins as we forgive those who sin against us.” That is not only the way we are to pray; it is the way that we are to live.
- What were the issues in Romans 14: 1-12 over which Christians were condemning each other? Over what issues do Christians condemn each other today?
- What makes it hard to forgive another person whom we feel has hurt us in some way?
- If you can, share your own experience of being forgiven by someone else?
- What is the difference between reflecting in our own lives a judgmental God and reflecting a forgiving God?