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A powerful reason not to judge

"Judge not, and you will not be judged; condemn not, and you will not be condemned; forgive and you will be forgiven."  Luke 6:37

"Do not judge by appearances, but judge with right judgement." John 7: 24

Two nights ago as I was reading, The Brothers Karamazov, by Fyodor Dostoevsky I discovered a powerful chapter about judgment and forgiveness. One day Alexei Karamazov who was walking saw a group of 6 students all teasing and bullying one of their fellow classmate.  Alexi upon seeing this disturbing scene intervened and confronted the boys. The boys explained that the boy was evil and had stabbed one of their fellow classmates. Despite these troubling allegations Alexei commanded the boys to cease their bullying at once.  The boys listened to Alexei's command and walked away. In a surprising and shocking move the boy instead of being grateful for Alexei's intervention instead screams out loud, "You are a Karamazov" and proceeded to attack Alexei by biting his finger.  Alexei shocked by this walks away, but while he was walking away the boy hurls a stone at Alexei almost striking him in the back of his head. 

In a further chapter we learn that Alexei is sent on a mission by a wealthy female friend to bring some money to a poor family.  Alexei agrees to this mission and agrees to visit the family.  Upon arriving Alexei is troubled by the squalid living conditions of the family.  Alexei learns that the father who was a soldier was recently unemployed as a result of a fight that he had with Dmitri, Alexei's older, half brother. Alexei also learns that the soldier's wife is mentally ill and that he also has two other children with special needs.  In a surprising twist Alexei also recognizes that one of the soldier's children is the boy that viciously attacked him.  The father of the boy explains that the son was just defending his name and honor.  The father threatens to discipline his son for his action, but Alexei pleads for the father not do.  Alexei forgives the child at once, and is saddened by the pain caused by the reckless actions of his drunken brother Dmitri.  Alexei promises the father that his brother will publicly apologize to him.

I could not help but realize the striking similarities of Alexei with Jesus when he forgave the woman caught in adultery. (cf. John 8: 1-11)  This passage also speaks to all of us about how we must all learn not be judgmental towards one another.  It is so easy to judge especially if one has been unjustly accused.  The natural human response is to respond with revenge, with an eye for an eye mindset.  But this response is not what Jesus wants, Jesus encourages us all instead to act like Alexei forgiving, placing ourselves in another's shoes.  Through this radical forgiveness and love the gospel suddenly comes to life, inspiring, uplifting the world with an irresistible eloquence. We must all become these poets of forgiveness and love; loving each person that we come into contact with.  It is through this exact type forgiveness, best embodied by Alexei that the love of Christ is ultimately most effectively and persuasively preached.


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