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June 2024

Most Pastors are sociologists too by nature of the profession and one enduring curiosity that piques me is why some people are happier than others.  I have noticed that often wealth and living conditions, or gender or race, or even religion, has little to do with it.  I have noticed that they often seem to be accepting of others.  That’s it.  End of article.

But how?  Right?  It seems that in the big scheme of things because they accept others they themselves are accepted.  It makes me wonder if the biblical mandate Do not judge lest by the same judgment you be judged has very little to do with the afterlife and has most everything to do with now.  I remember a fringe member of our high school herd who loved to gossip.  He was always loath to leave our company, often risking being late to class.  It took me a while to realize he wanted to be the last to leave because he feared being gossiped about.  He gossiped so he feared being talked about and ridiculed in his absence.  A judgment of sorts.

One of the workers on one of my summer jobs during college was always obsessing about people stealing tools.  Turned out that one day when he had bottle flu and we needed something from his van we found all of our tools that he had pilfered from us.  He was a thief therefore he thought everyone else was one, too.  He lived in distrust of others because he himself knew he couldn’t be trusted.

Do racists, because they despise other races, think that others despise their race, and thus live in distrust of others?  Do liars constantly worry that they are being lied to?  Do schemers think everyone is scamming them?  Are judgmental people constantly fearing that they are being judged by others?  In other words, do we reap what we sow?

We pray in the Lord’s Prayer forgive us our trespasses as we forgive those who trespass against us.  What if that means that we expect God to be as understanding and compassionate with our sins as we are understanding and compassionate with the sins people have done to us?  For how many does that mean they do not experience forgiveness because they do not practice it?  Could it be that the best way to experience the power of being forgiven is to start forgiving others?  What if we are signing a warrant there when we say forgive us just like we forgive others – it’s what we deserve.

I have noticed how often in life we put the cart before the horse, how we get things reversed. We believe that judgment comes in the end and then God will punish and fix. What if judgment comes first? Do not judge lest by the same judgment you be judged. What if Jesus is telling us that life and time are precious so why waste it being judgmental? And hateful? And distrustful? And rude? What if judgment is simply living with the present consequences of our antisocial behavior?

Those happy, accepting people I talked of in the first paragraph. What made them? Were they born that way? Were they nurtured in an accepting environment? Did they go through the school of hard knocks and learn a better way? I have never planted a pea and gotten a green bean. I have never planted sweetcorn and gotten asparagus. And I have never yelled at someone and received a hug. I wonder if those people are happier than me because they do not wait for the world to change to suit them but they create the world they want by being the world they want? I wonder if they are even aware they are doing it?

In Christ,