I ran across something I want to share in a commentary on Luke 3:7-18, the text I’m preaching on this coming Sunday. The commentator is the Rev. Wesley D. Avram, pastor of Bryn Mawr Presbyterian Church, in Bryn Mawr, Pennsylvania. His commentary is in the “Feasting on the Word” Commentary series, year C vol. 1. I’m editing the quote with the words in parentheses.
“The classic question of character comes to mind, for each preacher (Christian) must determine with others what are the particular habits of pastoral (daily) and personal life that accomplish her (or his) credibility to name sin with compassion, to proclaim God’s forgiving Spirit, and to invite others to respond to that Spirit.”
I liked Avram’s implication that we are better & wiser if we name sins with compassion, not judgment. We are living in a time when judgment has a bad reputation and many are leaving Christianity because they perceive it to be so judgmental. Yet judgment and judgmental-ism are two different things. Judgmental-ism is characterized by a critical and condemning attitude. Yet judgment is important in living right, in discerning the difference between right and wrong, between something that will harm ourselves or harm others, and something that will be good for us or others. So I guess the key is using compassion in our judgments, not judgmental-ism. Perhaps if we used the word discernment instead of judgment, we would be safer.
Here are some quotes on judgmentalism:
What have you found that helps you understand the difference between compassion and judgmentalism?
May your Advent/Christmas time be a time of deepening holiness & respect.