The difficulty men have in making judgements is highlighted by Isaiah’s description of Messiah with the implicit contrast to human judgement. This shows how careful we need to be when making decisions about human behaviour. A corollary of this is the need to take time to judge because of the influences of the natural man.
He shall not judge after the sight of his eyes, neither reprove after the hearing of his ears: But with righteousness shall he judge the poor, and reprove with equity for the meek of the earth. Isaiah 11:3
This is not some lovely and ethereal set of words but something we need to struggle to do if we are to take on and understand the character of The Father and The Lord Jesus Christ.
Paul gives advice to Timothy about the need to think carefully when considering those appointed to ecclesial offices. While he acknowledges that in some cases a man's true character is obvious, in others, character is only fully revealed over time:
“Some men's sins are open beforehand, going before to judgment; and some men they follow after. Likewise also the good works of some are manifest beforehand; and they that are otherwise cannot be hid.” 1 Timothy 5:24
In handling abuse cases brothers consistently express to me their surprise at the lies they are told even when an abuser is confessing and claiming repentance. We should not be surprised - abuse is a practiced deceit and abusers are experts at it. Their first confessions will often be only a small subset of the extent of their abusive behaviours, and only recent incidents.
Confessions will be laced with excuses and justification. When the spiritual counsellors working with them realise this they may be disheartened and disappointed. But they need to anticipate this, and patiently work through the process that we hope and pray will lead to full confession and wholehearted repentance.
If this article raises concerns you have about domestic violence in your own life or those around you can call 1800RESPECT (If in Australia) or similar services in other countries. There is also a list of support services on this website including Christadelphian Support Services.
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