In our first 12 Steps for the Recovering Pharisee video, I talked about a women I have a tendency to judge as a pay back for an unfair judgment I think she made of me. At the end of the video, I expressed the conflict that even though I knew how to get out of judging her, the big question was whether I wanted to stop judging her, and at the moment, I had to admit I did not.
That has been haunting me ever since. Why do I want to hold on so tightly to judging someone? What is keeping me from extending the forgiveness and grace that has been extended to me by God? And even worse: why do I find pleasure in this? What kind of twisted joy is this that has me rejoicing over finding out things about this person that I can skewer her with? And isn’t this what gossip is all about, and why it’s so much “fun?” When we find someone who genuinely dislikes the same person we can feed off each other’s fires of judgment until we have a good old commiserated bonfire going! And isn’t this fun? We are definitely in the right now. We have someone who agrees with us. Yes, this really is a rotten person, and yes, they really do deserved to have something bad happen to them.
So are we having fun now? Of course we are. You’re having fun hearing me merely talk about this and you don’t even have anyone in mind. You’ve just done so much of this that you know the drill and you can get a good feeling off of merely thinking about it. This is the “unmitigated pleasure” we talk about in Step 1, and it’s sick. We like it because it makes us feel better. However messed up we know we are, there’s always someone more messed up than us.
Now compare that perverted, warped joy, with the deeply satisfying delight of being loved unconditionally, forgiven of all your sins and having had all charges against you dropped. Believe me, once you’ve had this happen to you, you want no more piece of anyone else’s sin. No more putting anyone down, because, for you, everything’s changed. You are playing this whole thing by a different set of rules — what Paul calls the law of love. You’ve just been forgiven a huge debt; are you going to go out now and exact payment from the first person you see? No. You’re not going to even care what anyone else gets, because you can’t believe what you just got. Your sin is gone. You don’t want to bring up anyone’s sin anymore lest God suddenly changes His mind about yours.
Now this is what I want you to do, and I’ll do it with you. I want you to take that person you are judging, and put them on the receiving end of the same unconditional love, forgiveness and mercy you’ve received, and look at them now. And I bet, if you truly do this in your heart, you will see them differently. You will see them forgiven of the thing you were trying to hold against them. You will see them as set free, like you. And it’s only a matter of time before you can go over and hug that person. They are your brother or sister in Christ. They are recipients of the same grace and mercy as you whether they acknowledge it or not.
So get in the receiving line, and stay there. This is the only thing that gets us beyond Step 1.