Then neither do I condemn you.
Some of Jesus words are hard to understand. Others are easy to understand but just very difficult to obey. ‘Do not judge and you will not be judged. Do not condemn and you will not condemn.’
Have you ever been judged? Do you know what that feels like? If not, then next time you are in town, sit down with a homeless man or women, ask them their name and then ask them what it feels like to be judged. You will receive a highly insightful answer.
Why? Because they feel judged the whole time.
When Jesus was confronted by a woman caught in the act of adultery, he left us with a template for us to follow as we minister to vulnerable men and women:
- Firstly, he ministered to her through silence. Non-judgemental silence in fact. Silence brings healing, it allows people to be valued, listened to, heard. It has such power.
- Then He showed how much he cared: he put himself in the line of fire. He was prepared to be associated with her. John tells us they were trying to ‘trap’ him. By putting himself into a vulnerable sitting position, he risked his own life – earning her trust.
- He met her support needs, skilfully diffusing the situation and saving her life. He was literally prepared to risk his life to save hers. (That is a challenge to remember next time you are doing outreach).
- Then he gave her the Good News: The son of God does not condemn you. WOW!
- Finally, he offered her some empowering advice.
So often we invert this order – we jump straight to offering advice, well before we have earned the right to do so. When we are reaching out to the poor, homeless and the hurt, we need to first minister to them in non-judgemental silence, showing them how much we care, helping them with their immediate needs. Only then, do we begin to open our mouths and then to re-assure them of God’s acceptance and love.
Questions for Discussion and Reflection
- The extravagant grace of God welcomes everyone. Does your church reflect that? If not, what steps can you take to change it?
- When was the last time you risked losing something for someone the world condemned? How good are you at staying silent and non-judgemental when you listen to people?
- When working in outreach, try asking them people you’re working with: ‘Have I done anything to you to make you feel judged or condescended to?’ It is a question that requires humility and requires you to listen. If their answer is ‘Yes’, reflect on how you can change that.