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David Otten: 'Judge not, that you be not judged'

By David Otten
Contributing writer
updated: 1/31/2019 4:44 PM

Greetings from Faith Lutheran Church in Eldorado.

By now most of us have seen or read coverage of the encounter of a group of boys from Covington Catholic High School and the Native American activist Nathan Phillips.

One of the boys, Nick Sandmann, drew scathing attacks from a broad spectrum of people. Nick came face to face with Philips as he chanted and beat his drum but did not speak or make any threatening jesters. He did sport a smile some called a "smirk."

My concern is not to attempt to determine the thoughts of Nick Sandmann or the intent of Nathan Philips, but to point out the audacity of individuals who have made threats and other verbal attacks against Nick Sandmann or Nathan Philips.

I have always been amazed at people who make threats against someone they don't know, or have ideological, religious or philosophical differences with.

It makes more sense when an unprovoked attack occurs as in the case of the attack on Pearl Harbor by the Japanese, but this is not even close to that. There is no justification for threats being made and these threats are morally worse than anything that might have been happening between Sandmann and Philips.

Why do people engage in such sinful and stupid activities as making threats? This is a form of judging which Christ in Matthew 7:1-5 warns us against.

"Judge not, that you be not judged. 2 For with the judgment you pronounce you will be judged, and with the measure you use it will be measured to you. 3 Why do you see the speck that is in your brother's eye, but do not notice the log that is in your own eye? 4 Or how can you say to your brother, 'Let me take the speck out of your eye,' when there is the log in your own eye? 5 You hypocrite, first take the log out of your own eye, and then you will see clearly to take the speck out of your brother's eye."

When we judge we put ourselves in the place of God. We make ourselves into demigods or feel we have divine authority to judge. We are special and above others.

When we judge we claim authority we have not received. There are vocations that grant limited authorization to make judgment calls. Some of these vocations are judges, law enforcement officers, those who hire and fire, ministers who preach Law and Gospel, parents and guardians who correct the actions of their children and the list goes on.

Each vocation carries with it a limited authorization to judge specific people in specific areas. Very few vocations are given the authority to use deadly force.

In this situation people were judging without knowing the facts. As more became know many removed their tweets or revised their stories.

James tells us to be "slow to speak" and "slow to anger." May God grant us the wisdom on how to speak and not exceed our authority.

• David Otten is pastor of Faith Lutheran Church in Eldorado.