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Innocent or Guilty?

Blameless, in the clear and not responsible are words associated with innocent.  Growing up in the Roman Catholic Church, I was taught to let God be the ultimate judge.  At some point during the catechism process, I was introduced to the passage below.  First century religious leaders began to serve as the judge and jury, publicly criticizing and condemning less spiritual people.  Overhearing what these men were doing, Jesus provides an important lesson about being innocent or guilty.

Do not judge and criticize and condemn [others unfairly with an attitude of self-righteous superiority as though assuming the office of a judge], so that you will not be judged [unfairly]. For just as you [hypocritically] judge others [when you are sinful and unrepentant], so will you be judged; and in accordance with your standard of measure [used to pass out judgment], judgment will be measured to you, Matthew 7:1-2.

The metaphor opening up a can of worms was coined sometime during the 1950’s.  The expression refers to inadvertently creating numerous new problems while trying to solve a current issue.  Just as newly exposed worms begin to freak out, judging others without looking inwardly at your own life first infuriates those people being called out.  The person doing the finger pointing often alienates everyone else in the room regardless if a rule has been broken or violated.

Why do you look at the [insignificant] speck that is in your brother’s eye, but do not notice and acknowledge the [egregious] log that is in your own eye? Or how can you say to your brother, ‘Let me get the speck out of your eye,’ when there is a log in your own eye?  You hypocrite (play-actor, pretender), first get the log out of your own eye, and then you will see clearly to take the speck out of your brother’s eye, Matthew 7:3-5.

According to Jesus, outward guilt or innocence shouldn’t be your main concern.  Rather, everyone should examine their own life first, removing any hints or traces of hypocrisy.  Once you have gotten your own life in order, then your own credibility can be used as a resource to help others.  Unfortunately, modern times have revealed new religious leaders, the mainstream media.  With one article, blog or video clip, lives can be ruined without any concern for innocence or the truth.  Perhaps, members of the media need to read the passage above so that their hypocrisy, play acting and pretending will cease in the near future.

by Jay Mankus

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