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Judging People

The Princess Bride is one of my favorite movies. I drive my wife nuts because I insist on watching it once a year, and I quote half of the movie while it plays. One of my favorite quotes is when Miracle Max says, “Whoo-hoo-hoo, look who knows so much!” The Almighty’s rebuke of Job’s friends carries the same kind of sentiment. In Job 38:2, he asks, “Who is this that darkens my counsel with words without knowledge?”

The commentary Job gets from his friends has a depressingly common theme: Job, it’s all your fault. In Job 8:6, Bildad the Shuhite tells his suffering friend, “If you are pure and upright, even now he will rouse himself on your behalf and restore you to your rightful place.” Bildad is sure he has Job and his situation nailed, and he has a Bible verse to prove it. Jesus’s disciples make a similar call when they spot a blind man in John 9:2 and ask, “Rabbi, who sinned, this man or his parents that he was born blind?”

Most of us aren’t too different from Job’s friends. We have a religious streak that causes us to believe our circumstances are good because we’re doing the right things. We believe we’ve manipulated the Almighty into blessing us because we’re going to church, we haven’t killed anyone, we don’t drink (too much), and we don’t smoke or chew or run with those who do. The corollary to this thought is that folks whose circumstances are bad have crossed one of the lines we believe keeps us safe.

How freeing it is to simply take Jesus at his word when he says, “Do not judge.” How much better are our relationships when we’re more interested in loving people than stacking up religious acts. Perhaps this is what Paul was driving at when he observed that “Knowledge puffs up, but love builds up” (I Corinthians 8:1). Father, make us all less like Job’s friends and more like Jesus.

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