Wrapping up a deep week of judgment. I wanted to add that where I think we’ve gotten "judgment" wrong, I think we’ve also sold short on repentance, making it more "I’m sorry for being so bad" than what I think God wants: "I really want to change the way I’m living this out". We want to focus more on the punishment – it’s like we’re hard-coded to find the bad spot, rub it in, and point it out for everyone to gawk and stare at.
We point out our own sin – I don’t know why, but we revel in spilling our guts. Maybe it’s for pity and simpathy. Maybe it’s a contest where the worst sinner wins. Paul writes that he’s the chief of sinners, but it doesn’t look like he revels in it they way we do sometimes. Or sometimes we point out our own sins not to build ourselves up, but to self-destruct on our own bitterness and defeat. We revel in that somehow, too, self-deprecating as that can be. We turn every negative into a worse negative, and we tear ourselves down to gain attention, to grab penance to our own detriment.
We point out others’ sin for much the same thing, to make ourselves look good in them looking bad. But that’s too easy, and I don’t think most of us make a point of being so blatantly superior that way. Our subtle way might be to talk about politics and put down the other side. Or maybe it’s talking about other churches, or other schools, or any opposing views, or the folks who are a bit different from us. We drop our voices an octave, or a few decibels – we whisper about "those people" and we point out very true faults and problems with who they are and what they do. We can’t get past an Us vs. Them mentality, and in that we are more judgmental than we’d like to admit.
But that’s the rub: in our judgment, it’s not about "setting things to right". It’s more about "I’m right, and you’re wrong". Our idea of repentance is when someone stops their bad thing and starts doing our good thing. Our idea of discipline is to make sure the justice of a situation trumps the grace and mercy, unless it’s me/myself/I that needs that mercy, that really hopes there’s such a thing as grace. We have trouble extending mercy and grace because we’re not really sure what they are, not really sure it’s out there to be lived out.
Ultimately, we don’t trust God.
Because, I think He judges differently than we do. We judge on Karma – you get what you deserve; you reap what you sow. But He judges based on some other standard that’s more about ultimate good and ultimate right than retribution. On our best days, we get a glimpse of that, and we treat others the right way. But mostly, I fall short and judge wrongly again.