Right now is the season of repentance as we're heading into the fall Biblical holidays. One issue (of several!) that I am trying to work on in my life is the issue of passing judgment too quickly. It is so easy sometimes to just make a quick judgement, isn't it? We look at a situation and so often, it's a "what you see is what you get" mentality. I think this is one of the hardest parts of marriage and parenting! When the kids are bickering, who do you believe when you weren't there to witness it? Lately, my kids have taken to the "he/she started it first!" reasoning. Drives me nuts! As a parent, I want to punish appropriately and fairly, but sometimes it's hard to know what that is, isn't it?
My solution these days is to remove them both from the situation until they can both tell me their version of the story without the other one their to jump in and say "no...that's not how it happened!" Most of the time, they feel like they are the only ones who've been wronged and somehow it was most certainly the other person's fault. Usually, they were both at fault in some way. How often do we grown-ups find ourselves doing the same childish things in our marriages and other relationships? I know I do, far too often.
The Bible has a few things to say about this topic of passing judgement without having concrete evidence. Deut 17:6 says, "The death sentence is to be carried out only if there was testimony from two or three witnesses; he may not be sentenced to death on the testimony of only one witness." We read in Deut 19:15, "One witness alone will not be sufficient to convict a person of any offense or sin of any kind; the matter will be established only if there are two or three witnesses testifying against him." Matt 18:15 also has something to say on the topic, "Moreover, if your brother commits a sin against you, go and show him his fault — but privately, just between the two of you. If he listens to you, you have won back your brother. If he doesn't listen, take one or two others with you so that every accusation can be supported by the testimony of two or three witnesses." We see the concept reiterated several times, so it's definitely something worth considering...even in minor situations. When we go around judging one another on even the small matters, it blossoms in to bigger problems and then we have a vicious cycle of the blame game on our hands. We can kill (figuratively speaking) each other with our assuming and judgmental words, so we have got to watch how we're accusing each other.
It's an act of love to overlook the wrongs that have been done against us, especially considering that so often, the other person wasn't trying to offend. "People with good sense are slow to anger, and it is their glory to overlook an offense," Prov 19:11. In home life, there often aren't two witnesses to every wrong doing. That's probably to our benefit...if we don't have two witnesses we have no right to carry out "punishment" against them. We have no right to vengeance. I think of all people, it's hardest to forgive our loved ones, but they are the ones that we should be forgiving the quickest. After all, there are two sides to every story.
Every truth has two sides;
it is as well to look at both,
before we commit ourselves to either.