In his great “hymn to love” in the 13th chapter of 1st Corinthians, St. Paul wrote…”when the perfect is come….” The “perfect” is not yet come! Not in you…not in me…not in the man behind the tree.
That understanding may well have been part of the thinking of Jesus’ saying (in the Sermon on the Mount—Matthew 7) “Judge not lest you be judged; for with what judgment you judge, so shall you BE judged.”
It is not easy to withhold condemnation of others. Yet, we never have ALL the facts, nor do we ever have a complete understanding. On a more personal level, many of us can well appreciate the truth of Sir Walter Scott’s poetic declaration: “at the devil’s booth are all things sold; each ounce of dross costs its ounce of gold.”
I have become ever more strongly convicted that it is the job of the church to try to teach and show a better way. Confessing our sins to God is a starting place. God KNOWS our sins. WE know our sins. But, we also need forgiveness and to know we have been forgiven.
People tend to become what we think about. Hence, it seems to me better for the church to primarily focus on the highest ideals and the POSSIBILITIES that lie before us all. In the Bible, in Proverbs 23:7 is this line: “As one thinks in his heart, so is he.”
Cincinnati’s own famous son, the Reverend Dr. Norman Vincent Peale got it right with his emphasis on “Positive Thinking.” Since such thinking is not native to most of us, we need to cultivate it. A way to do that is to “behave your way into it.” That is, pretend you are what you want to be. Assume the role of an actor, and fill that role. If you feel hostile towards someone: then “kill them with kindness.” Overcome them with courtesy. Practice generosity and liberality whether you feel it or not. If as a child you learned to manipulate people, or lie, or deceive, or cheat, recognize that there is a better way. Recognize that those qualities ultimately lead to destruction: your own destruction. Then having so recognized this fact, work on being both truthful AND diplomatic.
We cannot justify hostility and unkindness on the base of “telling the truth.” The old aphorism is, indeed, true: “what goes around comes around.” In Rabbi Jesus’ words: “with what measure you mete, it shall be measured to you.”