There is breaking news. What do you think? What do I think? Let’s all say something, quickly, without a moment of reflection. Since heated language gets more attention, let’s make those opinions as hot and hateful as possible.
The virtue of prudence suggests waiting, saying nothing, until we have something good to say. If we have nothing original, good, true, or beautiful, then we can proceed to say nothing.
It contains some good advice when one is about to do something hateful:
- Think about it.
- Don’t do it.
The Lord Jesus reminds us that we are to love even our enemies and pray for those who despitefully abuse us. When bad things happen to people, we are reminded by the prophets not to gloat. God handed the Jewish people over for their injustice, idolatry, and other sins. The victors gloated as did some neighboring states over the defeat of Judah. God’s chosen people had not been good, but the gloating was unseemly, hateful, and eventually the victors took their destruction too far. They ran up the cultural score and lost all moral authority and divine approbation.
Consider any one of us. We are all broken in some way or another. Each one of us will die and face the Almighty in the Day of Doom. None of us can look at our lives and say that we have done what we should have done. Humility is the natural conclusion of these facts. When we see death, our first response must be: “Lord have mercy.”
We pray for mercy as we would have mercy. That too is a divine command. We can rejoice in the abstract end of evil. If abortion is ever made illegal, Christians will rejoice. If racial injustice is ever driven out of society, Christians will shout for joy. If the poor receive equal justice before the law, then Christians will see a sign of the beloved community becoming a reality.
Good news! That is far different than the immediate temptation to see some other person and see ourselves as righteous and that person as unrighteous. Life is complex and people have many qualities. Who is sure that they are better in total than some other person? They can point to one aspect, perhaps, but life is complicated.
Why judge? Why be sure? At the very least, we must not be hasty.
When we are tempted to rejoice in the death of someone we decide is unrighteous, or even to declare that someone suffering is unrighteous, then we should stop. Think about. Do not do it.
Nobody needs our quick take.
Nobody is rushing our judgment. God will judge, surely, carefully, perfectly.
Instead, everyone created in the image of God deserves our pity, our compassion, our pause to pray. When we are tempted to opine, and say quickly what we think, then we can stop and think what Divine Love would say. One elder who spoke into my life said of all the dead: “We know some are wicked, but we hope none are.” We hope that all find mercy, even if we think some will not.
Our call is not to judge once we reach the final judgment.
Don’t do it.
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