Br’er Abbot’s Briarpatch

No One Knows Another’s Heart

I have seen over the course of the last couple of days various reactions from folks on social media in regards to President Obama’s tears while addressing gun violence at a press conference on January 5th.

The responses have ranged from praise both faint and genuine to responses of suspicion, cynicism, revulsion, and anger. It’s the latter that I would like to address.

“Therefore you have no excuse, O man, whoever you are, when you judge another; for in passing judgment upon him you condemn yourself, because you, the judge, are doing the very same things.” -Romans 2:1

We can never know another’s heart, only God can truly know that. Sadly I think we do indeed often tend to project onto others, our own frailties and realities. That which we hate in others can often be found within ourselves if only we look for it and truly we should be more concerned with our own heart than with our neighbor’s.

What perhaps is even more sad is the cynicism that infects our heart and sickens our soul. For those who know me, know well that I suffer from this particular spiritual malady. Cynicism, in my humble opinion, can find its roots in one of the seven deadly sins, pride. Pride would suggest we, in our exalted and omniscient state, know better the motives of another and our cynicism is therefore justified. When in reality we’re often groping in the dark ascribing motives to others which, if truth be known, haunt our own hearts.

We need to be mindful of our own hearts and let God tend to the hearts of our neighbors. We will never change another’s heart by offering our judgement and condemnation. We can only do that by offering our love.

I also wanted to take a moment and address the name calling that President Obama has endured by those who would dare to call themselves Christian in the same breath.

“But I tell you, don’t be angry with anyone. If you are angry with others, you will be judged. And if you insult someone, you will be judged by the high court. And if you call someone a fool, you will be in danger of the fire of hell.” -Matthew 5:22

Name calling serves nothing but evil and that which separate us from one another and from God. It certainly in no way helps dialog, problem solving, or relationship building. Name calling can also be traced back to the sin of pride. When we insult another we do so from a false sense of superiority, from the sickness of pride. We set ourselves up as more worthy or better than those whom we denigrate through name calling. In putting others down we seek to elevate ourselves by stepping on our brother or sister to climb a little higher in our own mind but the sad reality is that we climb no higher to God when we do this, we simply sink deeper into our selves and further from God.

For those who would claim to follow Christ, scripture is clear time and time again. Tend to your own sins before you tend to your neighbor’s. I believe you will find, as I have, that you have your hands full as is.

+Br’er Abbot