It was a terrible rumor....too terrible to repeat. Of course that didn't keep it from being repeated. The way people were talking about it, you just didn't even think to question whether it was true. After all, if someone said it, it must be true.
In this rare case, however at least one person decided to challenge the grapevine. After a little investigation and going to the accused individual with the hear-say, to the relief of many the dreaded rumor was found to be untrue. Not everyone was so happy to discover the man's innocence. In fact, one person was downright disappointed.
"Oh no! Are you sure it's not true? I've told so many people, and if it's not true...."
You get the point. This guy was actually hoping a false rumor was true. He regretted the fact that an accused man was found innocent. Those to whom he had whispered the report would find out that he had passed on a false charge. The man he already despised would be justified in their eyes. A little plaque in a friend's bathroom seems applicable: "Keep your words sweet. Some day you may have to eat them."
In this particular situation the rumor was false and the accused party was innocent. This is not always the case, however. Sometimes people do actually do wrong. In fact, it seems to be a regular occurrence for sinners to sin. Even within the household of faith, brothers and sisters frequently err. And though we find it convenient to forget we too misbehave on occasion. We find it easier, however to overlook our own faults and magnify the failings of others. The Bible points out a few possible reasons why we may do this.
1. We condemn in others what we are not willing to face in ourselves.
Paul warns that condemning others may arise out of a sense of self-condemnation: "You are inexcusable, O man, whoever you are who judge, for in whatever you judge another you condemn yourself; for you who judge practice the same things." Romans 2:1. Then Paul probed deeper into the psychology of this problem. He asked, "Do you think this, O man, you who judge those who practicing such things, and doing the same, that you will escape the judgment of God?" Romans 2:3.
"God have you noticed what that person is doing? How low, how sad how terrible! It's wrong, Lord, but be assured, I would never do anything like that."
By heaping judgment on others we feel we are more righteous than they and attempt to lessen our own sense of responsibility to deal faithfully with ourselves. I don't mean to be childish, but I'm reminded of something I once heard a five year old say: "It takes one to know one." Sometimes wisdom proceeds from the mouth of babes.
2. We condemn others when we fail to understand the power of God's goodness to break the grip of sin.
After confronting us with the fact that we may condemn others in a effort to escape God's judgment against our own sins, Paul offers another possible reason why we might do this: "Or do you despise the riches of His goodness, forbearance, and long-suffering, not knowing that the goodness of God leads you to repentance" Romans 2:4.
Did you grasp what Paul says here? If we're not careful we may attempt to employ condemnation as a means to arouse repentance in those who do wrong. By failing to realize that genuine repentance is a heart-level turning from sin in response to God's love, we may naively suppose that can effect reform in those around us by simply pointing out their sins.
(I guess from reading this and the scriptures he used that we had better leave the judging to God. Don't you agree? I am happy to do that. Grandma Joan)