As I reflected on this week, I had decided to ‘go off script’ from the readings of the week. God has been hitting me over the head the past couple weeks with a specific topic I felt needed addressed – we say we should provide assistance without judgement. But what does that mean? Did not Jesus teach us “Stop judging that you may not be judged.” (Matt 7:1) What he is saying to us with this though is do not judge the person’s soul. That role belongs to God alone. That does not mean that we shouldn’t judge individual acts though. We judge them against the ‘laws’ (Ten Commandments) and teachings of the church that come from His teachings on how to live. Even though Jesus does not condemn the prostitute he still tells her “go and sin no more.”
Then what does this mean for us as Vincentians, particularly as we deal with more challenging circumstances? We should never condemn people or refuse them help off hand or because of who they are or how they live. Our default position must always be to offer assistance and even to err on the side of ‘giving too much.’ Our discernment should be around what our ‘help’ is actually doing for them. Are we enabling behavior which is actually detrimental to person? Creating dependency which shuts down accountability, self-esteem and motivation is a failure on our part to provide hope and encouragement. Judging our actions and their true impact on another should always be a part of our discernment. This is why prayer must be wrapped throughout every aspect of what we do. Do I simply provide assistance, or do I discern the true needs of those I minister to? Do I judge others, or do I evaluate the intent and value of my help? Am I helping others to find more hope, or simply helping myself to feel better? The answers are never easy. Discernment through prayer leads us to God’s intent and increased holiness.
Lord Jesus, give me the patience to discern your intent in all things. Allow me to understand the true impact of my actions on others. Allow me to avoid judgment of individuals. Allow me to see the difference between assistance that is helpful and hopeful, and that which enables despair. Hear my prayers that your voice be my guide in all my actions. We pray all of this in your name. Amen
Deacon Mike Lyman