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Saturday, October 4, 2014

Caring's Little Unpleasantries

When is it more loving to confront someone with their sin than to ignore it? What attitudes are needed to keep loving confrontation from becoming judgmental?  How do you see those attitudes in Paul? (Serendipity Bible Fourth Edition, page 1611).

There is a saying that doctors are to: "Do no harm." Certainly it is more commendable to be helpful rather than hurtful. Even when we must inflict pain, we are to have a ready rationale that our actions do not violate fundamental respect for the other party (a quality notably lacking from intentional torture). To use the example of a doctor once again, it not unusual for a doctor performing some procedure or other to cause pain.  When Jesus (the great physician) confronted the scribes and Pharisees, he often inflicted pain. No one likes to be criticized, and he forthrightly criticized the scribes and Pharisees. But on inflicting this pain, Jesus's was arguably attempting to be helpful and, if possible, unveil to them their own shortcomings. This was a pretty tall order in any case because who in this world likes to have their shortcomings highlighted in bold relief. Thus there is a dilemma. We can assert that we wish to always be helpful rather than hurtful, but in some cases in order to be helpful we must be hurtful.

Now there is the distinction between judgment and discernment. Unfortunately to someone who is being evaluated, especially negatively, there isn't a dime worth of difference between them. I think we cannot escape the fact that sometimes we must be judgmental. I know my doctor has been very judgmental (perhaps he would say discerning) about my being overweight. Yet, he obviously has an obligation to his profession and to me to point out an obvious detriment to my health. Even so, Dr. Brady has never disrespected me one iota while pointing out that I needed to watch my weight. In other words, he made it plain that it was not me that he detested, but an aspect of my behavior which he saw as changeable and correctable.  Jesus as the great physician healed the blind and lepers, but also he was physician to the scribes and Pharisees. That the scribes and Pharisees did not respond well to his care cannot be blamed upon the physician.

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