At Phoenix Seminary, we are required to meet twice monthly with a mentor. It’s a wonderful program, and something I’ve benefited from already, even though I’ve only met with my mentor four times thus far. We’ve made up a personal development plan with a list of six things for me to concentrate on improving in my life. The first one is as follows: “Learn to be more compassionate, understanding, and forgiving of others, especially those who don’t believe as I do.”

I have vacillated a lot on this point. I grew up legalistic, hypocritical, and extremely judgmental of almost everyone. I harbored attitudes I have now come to abhor, though I’m not surprised by them, as I was not a Christian until I was almost 22. My opinions and theology have changed greatly since becoming a Christian, but I am sad to admit that now my hypocrisy and legalism have turned on the opposite spectrum. Now, I am more inclined to judge those I see as legalistic, hypocritical, and judgmental. Silly, isn’t it? I’m almost legalistically against legalism, and hypocritically judging of hypocrites! Things get convoluted really fast in this area.

It’s a path I’m familiar with. I have always been a “dive in” sort of woman, meaning I jump headlong into whatever I happen to be passionate about. If I want to write a book, I write it. If I decide I want to study quantum physics, I hook myself up with whatever resources I can find on the topic. I dive in spontaneously, and sometimes impulsively. I want to be right. I want to have perfect theology and a perfect apprehension of everything. I am a perfectionist, and since I have never done anything truly perfect, I am also a hypocrite.

I look at people who have wrongly apprehended me or wounded me in some way, and while I convince myself that all is forgiven, there is sometimes some residual resentment and bitterness on my part. Friends, this should not be. Maybe what those people did really was wrong. But I am a wrongdoer myself. If I step out of myself and look through someone else’s eyes, I come up with a whole set of nuances and idiosyncrasies that inform opinions and judgments. My life experiences are far different from those of others. Everyone’s judgments and misapprehensions come from somewhere, and I am no different.

Others struggle with different issues and sins from me, but that evil impulse is the same.  However, that evil manifests itself differently in all of us. I can be judged wrongly, but I can also judge wrongly. So, who is in the wrong?  Who is in bondage?

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