[Note in 2013: In this old article, I used the term "proud" and "pride" not as a term for gratitude (as I do more recently), but closer to how I now use the term "arrogance," as in a form of self-conscious, terrified, angry envy.]
What have I been proud of condemning?
It is possible to discontinue any momentum of condemning anything. Such a possibility can involve a long series of recognitions of my own acts of condemning.
I have condemned governments for governing. I have condemned liars for lying. Further, I have also lied (and governed).
So, I could give a long list of things that I have condemned, at least a few of which I have also done. Making a list may be useful. However, I am thinking not so much of making a comprehensive list as of keeping the general question in mind, like with the expectation that I might in the future condemn something (proudly) without that behavior really working for me practically. I’d like to have the question available in case it is ever in the future useful to explore that inquiry: “what have I been proudly condemning?” If I were to experience distress, I might ask, “what have I been proudly condemning?”
Here is how I got to that question, which I “just made up.” I trust that you may find the following also useful.
Last night, I had been talking with someone about the term “heaven.” I had mentioned heaven as an eternally available “realm” (or “kingdom” or “world”) of experience. In a song of mine, which I could also share with you (from Youtube), I distinguish that heaven is a realm in which “all sins are already forgiven,” that is, in which one does not experience blame or guilt, but such things as peace.
Forgiveness Mandala by Wayne Stratz (Photo credit: Nutmeg Designs)
Not practicing blame is perhaps under-emphasized in many churches. However, Jesus preached forgiveness with particular emphasis (as in these verses of Luke 17).
“If your brother sins, rebuke him, and if he repents, forgive him. 4If he sins against you seven times in a day, and seven times comes back to you and says, ‘I repent,’ [then] forgive him.”
He went on to add, a few verses later:
20Once, having been asked by the Pharisees when the kingdom of God would come, Jesus replied, “The kingdom of God does not come with your careful observation, 21nor will people say, ‘Here it is,’ or ‘There it is,’ because the kingdom of God is within you.”
So, how is forgiving others related to “the kingdom of god” or “the kingdom of heaven?” Isn’t it?
Other famous sayings of Jesus include “condemn not” and “resist not evil” and “turn away from evil” and “I did not to come to judge the world” and (paraphrasing) “if you perceive sin in another, remove the obstacle to your own perception first, rather than focusing on removing or fixing the misperception of another,” which is popularly translated like this:
3“Why do you look at the speck of sawdust in your brother’s eye and pay no attention to the plank in your own eye? 4How can you say to your brother, ‘Let me take the speck out of your eye,’ when all the time there is a plank in your own eye? 5You hypocrite, first take the plank out of your own eye, and then you will see clearly to remove the speck from your brother’s eye.
Given that many of the sayings of Jesus are parables, but with commentaries and summaries, like “condemn not,” we can learn from the examples in the parables about the meaning of the words translated into English in the summaries and commentaries. When Jesus says condemn not, he also says “rebuke sins, but forgive those who repent,” and perhaps all three statements go together.
In “baby talk,” condemn simply means to stay mad or “upset” (and, generally, to say so). It is related to hate and contempt and shaming and pride. I have condemned or hated many things, many people, and many actions. (There is the background of the question “what have I proudly condemned?”) Condemning and hate are related to fear.
So, Jesus rebuked condemning. He criticized it in the sense of pointing it out and calling attention to it as a behavior and behavioral habit.
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20For I tell you that unless your righteousness surpasses that of the Pharisees and the teachers of the law [the mainstream religious leaders of Jesus' time], you will certainly not enter the kingdom of heaven.
21“You have heard that it was said to the people long ago, ‘Do not murder,a and anyone who murders will be subject to judgment.’ 22But I tell you that anyone who is angry with his brotherb will be subject to judgment. Again, anyone who says to his brother, ‘[scoundrel],c’ is answerable to the Sanhedrin. But anyone who says, ‘You fool!’ will be in danger of the fire of hell.
Again, that is Jesus rebuking condemning (rebuking the sin of condemning). So, we could say that condemning is sinful. Condemning is certainly a distressing experience- like resenting- which can be a “persistent complaint,” and thus a behavior that we might be grateful to complete and do no more.
4Then said the LORD, Doest thou well to be angry?
(i.e. “So, how is that working for you?”)
What many people, even who call themselves Christians, may not understand is how Jesus connected condemning to vanity or pride. We may condemn others to glorify ourselves (by comparison). We may even resent others to justify our own ongoing suffering. That could be called folly/foolishness/silly/sin.
So, condemning and resenting (and justifying those behaviors) could all be sinful. For example, “I know how my sister/mother/son/boss is, so that is why our relationship sucks and they really need to do the Landmark Forum to fix them so that they can be more like me, going on and on about how the quality of their relationships (or lack thereof) is justified by the shortcomings of the other people.” That is what I mean by pride.
Condemning someone for their shortcomings implies pride, like justification. You may have said things like that and I might have too and we might have a lot of company.
Now, one can rebuke the “sin” (ineffective behavior) of another without any antagonism or pride. One just distinguishes the pattern of behavior, including a questioning of the effectiveness of that pattern (questioning the products of that behavioral pattern).
Remember: “be humble as an innocent child, condemn not, rebuke sin, and forgive those who repent.” I just now added that first one to the sequence, and here is a saying of Jesus about it. Note that being humble is related to what I was saying about pride before.
1At that time the disciples came to Jesus and asked, “Who is the greatest in the kingdom of heaven?”
2He called a little child and had him stand among them. 3And he said: “I tell you the truth, unless you change and become like little children, you will never enter the kingdom of heaven. 4Therefore, whoever humbles himself like this child is the greatest in the kingdom of heaven.”
Jesus did not teach that the humble one WILL BE the greatest in heaven, but IS. When is heaven? (Hint: it’s eternal, right, so when is it?) Also, where is the kingdom of heaven/of God (at least according to Jesus)? Again, he said not to look for it coming from “out there,” for it is “within!”
So, there is the teaching of Jesus, and I do not know how many churches teach it or how well, but many churches may emphasize other things. He simply and clearly instructed his followers to be humble, to discontinue the practice of condemning and antagonism, to rebuke sin, and to forgive those who repent. Let’s review the last one as our concluding step.
Here is someone else’s commentary on repenting:
Corcovado jesus (Photo credit: @Doug88888)
Repentance is more than a sorrow for sin; it is a determination to abandon it and live a new life. It means a change of heart, of the will, new purposes, a determination to leave off sinning. Sorrow is not repentance, but godly sorrow worketh repentance (2Co 7:10).
So, repentance is not to be confused with guilt or shame. However, repentance could be related to a brand new context for language and behavior, a new declaration, one that might even redeem or re-frame the past.
The new declaration could be “I have been condemning you for ______, and I now recognize it and I am open to new results and new ways of interacting.” Beyond just “opening one’s heart,” there can even be a commitment or promise.
However, many people, including Landmark Education graduates, may think of making a new commitment as a “fix.” A fix implies that something was or ever could be “fundamentally wrong,” like making one’s self wrong for condemning. That indicates to me an absence of repenting!
Repenting is not turning condemnation from someone else toward one’s self. Repenting is turning away from condemning itself, turning away from the whole realm of shaming and justifying and self-glorifying (pride).
Repenting is not “I was wrong and you were right and thank you so much for enduring a horrible person like me.” Repenting is more like this: “I acknowledge that what I have been doing has not been working lately, at least not for me- and has not been fulfilling my own inspirations.” Repenting thus does not require saying anything to anyone, but that may be relevant often.
What to me indicates repenting is the giving of a blessing. If I previously condemned someone (silently or verbally) and then I can bless them- like simply acknowledging them, like even for enduring my antagonistic condemnations- that could create a new pattern of relationship right there.
That is not a promise of a future new way of interacting, but a new way of action now. It could include an expression of gratitude or a compliment or anything else inspired. Again, it may not even be communicated to them, though that is again often relevant.
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Repenting may not be based on a particular model. It’s not just “filling in the blank” of a statement: “I was a jerk by ____. Now I create _______.”
Is that authentic? It could be. However, what matters most may not be the content, but the spirit. “I have been proudly condemning ________.” That itself can be enough.
One simple thing that Landmark Education has not emphasized (to my knowledge) is that model: “I have been proudly condemning _______.” That is perhaps too simple of an access to freedom and power for a commercial operation to publicize: “what have you been proudly condemning?”
Would people think “oh, now I have THE secret” and yet still keep coming back and paying to take more programs? (Of course, if it keeps fulfilling on what is valuable to them, why not?)
To review: “be humble as an innocent child, condemn not, rebuke sin, and forgive those who repent.” Jesus also taught: bless even those who curse you and call you their enemy. He was a radical, a revolutionary.
He emphasized the foundations of questions like “what have you been proud of condemning?” In other words, he set a foundation of what works (a very practical spirituality).
As a final comment, note that I am not saying to maintain a relationship that does not work for you. To stop reacting to someone with condemnation may involve being compassionate with one’s self (and the other/others) by withdrawing. If something does not work for you, why pretend that it does?
Just as we can ask, as an access to fulfillment and inspiration, “what have I been proudly condemning,” we can reverse part of the question: “what have I been proudly glorifying?” In other words, what have I been pretending is working well, perhaps just to seem good enough to “earn my way into a future heaven?”
What have I been struggling to fix, like because I pretend that it SHOULD be working better than it actually does? Condemning is just an act of repulsion (causing two things to move apart), but with an attachment lingering! Condemning is not simply moving back or pushing something away, either of which can work well, but it’s a form of suffering.
Idolizing (idealizing, glorifying something PROUDLY) can also be an expression of suffering (or cause of suffering). When I glorify something proudly, it could actually be a naive attempt to associate myself with something, perhaps something that I pretend is working better than it does. Pretending without knowing it… is naivete, foolishness, folly, ineffective, sinful.
published July 15, 2010
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