For what have I to do with judging those outside? Is it not those who are inside that you are to judge? God will judge those outside. “Drive out the wicked person from among you.”
In this reading from his first letter to the church in Corinth, it appears as if Paul is asking the church members to judge their fellow members, who are not doing the right thing; on the surface of it, this doesn’t quite fit with the message of forgiveness we hear from Jesus does it? However, I believe that Paul was actually asking the members of the Corinthian church to simply watch out for each other…keep each other in line, and on the right track. He knew that it was important to make sure that everyone behaved, and did not make the new Christian religion look bad, or worse, go off course.
So, looking at it this way, we could argue that Paul was kind of acting like a caring parent to the young church, feeling that he was called to lead and guide the growing church, just as we are called to lead and guide our growing children.
As single parents, some of us may have been subject to unfair or unrealistic judgments from some who did not understand what it is like to be a single parent. I have had people praise me for what I was doing for my daughter, and have had others put me down for raising her without her mother, indicating that a man cannot raise a daughter alone. I have also had family members and friends say they envied me because I did not have a spouse to have to check everything out with, or to get in the way; there are some people who actually told me they thought it was easier to be a single rather than a married parent. None of these judgments were accurate or true, and not all of these comments were meant to be hurtful or be insensitive… maybe…just maybe…a few were said out of concern, to help me stay on a good path in terms of raising my daughter.
And maybe these few were not judgments at all, but more like guidance and support, as those who really care, wanted the best for myself and my daughter…and I got upset simply because I was overly sensitive, and feeling just a bit insecure about my role as single father.
Sometimes what I first took as judgment was actually advice, and once I got over myself I could see that, and even on occasion I took the advice that was offered, and it worked out well.
This experience reminds me of dealing with my own daughter, who does not always want to hear what I have to say, and is sometimes resistant to my advice; this can make me frustrated with her, but maybe…just maybe, she is reluctant to listen because she sees my words as criticism rather than advice (and sometimes she is right); if I look at it this way, then I can be more open minded about her reactions, and not get quite so frustrated when I feel she is rejecting my words of wisdom.
As parents it can help us to remember that our kids are people too (sounds like a song) and prone to hurt feelings and making misjudgments just like we are, and hence we can be more forgiving of them, when it seems like they are not listening to us. Our job after all is to love them, lead them, guide them and support them…even if they do not always react the way we would hope for them too…
Then again, neither do we; but we are all still loved by our perfect parent, who has endless patience with us…God!
Let us Pray
God, thank for your guidance and love as we move through our lives. Thank you for the support and advice of others. Please help us to see the advice from the judgment, and to not be judgmental ourselves…of other parents or of our children. Help us to learn patience from you, and to be good examples to our children, as Christ is a good guide for us.