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Sunday, September 9, 2012

Judgment – The Poisoned Apple

What is the worst [best] investment (of time, money, etc.) you ever made? Why? (Serendipity Bible 10th Anniversary Edition, page 942).

Why do you look at the speck of sawdust in your brother’s eye and pay no attention to the plank in your own eye? How can you say to your brother, ‘Let me take the speck out of your eye,’ when all the time there is a plank in your own eye? You hypocrite, first take the plank out of your own eye, and then you will see clearly to remove the speck from your brother’s eye (Matthew 7:3-5 NIV).

Jesus warns us about judging others. We should be doubly cautious about judging ourselves. As a rule, we should leave any conclusive judgment regarding ourselves or others up to God. This is due primarily not because of our tendencies towards unfairness, but most basically due to our lack of complete knowledge. It is generally true that the more complete our knowledge, the greater our leanings towards mercy.

From this point of view, determining our worst or best investments is problematic. I think of people sitting in jail because of legal infractions. Surely they are rightly to condemn themselves for doing deeds representing bad investments. Certainly some remorse is due. Yet if they are willing to learn from their mistakes, who can say how invaluable this admittedly costly education may be. (Even under ideal conditions, education is never free.) Whenever we make a bad investment, we need to appreciate that good things can come from it and can represent a “wake up call” that simply would not be available by any other means. Conversely, our best investments can be an invitation for the incitement of greed and overweening pride. Thus, best investments can lead to degradations far worse than bad investments.

Those of us who are Americans have great pride in our country's Constitution. Certainly it represents a nearly perfect investment of creative skills. Yet it could prove negative if in times of stress and turmoil we bow down to the letter of the law, and forget its spirit and the Constitution's unabashed confrontation of the truths of human nature. Our focus should emphasize simplicity and humility and leave in abeyance any final judgment as to the uniform rectitude of our investments.

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