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Dust Can’t Judge

Christians can be mean. We can be really mean and hurtful. We can come across smug and judgmental. We smugly sit in judgment of people that do things we disagree with.

When we do that, we are forgetting what Christians confess on Ash Wednesday.

Now, there are a lot of lessons to learn from Ash Wednesday. Last year, I wrote this post about it.

As I was reflecting yesterday, however, I was reminded of the need for us to remember the message of Ash Wednesday to keep from being judgmental.

Last night, I was reading the book of Luke. There’s a passage tucked away in there that I sometimes almost forget about. Check it out.

Jesus is intentionally provocative. He picks a Pharisee and tax collector. Let me help you make sense of what his listeners heard. It would be like him picking

A pastor and a gay prostitute.

A priest and a corrupt business executive.

A respected teacher and a pedophile.

In an incredible reversal, the pedophile is the good guy. The respected pastor is the bad guy.

Do you hear this? God wants repentant pedophiles more than he wants self-sufficient pastors. He wants contrite prostitutes over proud theologians. He wants grieved sinners over well-respected, Christian businessmen with unbroken hearts.

Wherever you think you are on the ‘sin spectrum,’ God wants you.

Why? How could this be?

“Remember that you are dust, and to dust you shall return.”

Wait. I thought God helps those who help themselves.

“Remember that you are dust, and to dust you shall return.”

This society is going downhill. Look at all the sex on TV. They have taken prayer out of the schools! Can’t we get back to the good old days? Look at those gay people are trying to get married. They are going to destroy a godly institution. Look at those evil people out there that are destroying our godly nation!

“Remember that you are dust, and to dust you shall return.”

That is the message of Ash Wednesday. Yes, people are corrupt. People are sinful. The society is sinful.

The society is sinful, though, because it is filled with people




“Remember that you are dust, and to dust you shall return.”

We are all dust. That means you and me. We are all going to the grave and depending on God to pull us out of that grave into a glorious, bodily resurrection. We are all sinful and waiting for God to pull new life right out of us.

He is birthing something new from the old. He will make you new.

I know many of you are from different traditions and don’t see the value in getting a black mark on your forehead. I get that.

We can all see the value, though, of humbly remembering our own mortality and our own sin. This protects us from smugly judging others for the sins we don’t struggle with, while engaging in all sorts of our own sins.

Remember what our Lord said?

“Remove the plank from your eye, then you’ll see to remove the speck from your brother’s.”

God hates all sin. That includes divorce, lust, insecurity, gossip, pornography, pride, and failure to take care of the poor just as much as it includes abortion, gay marriage, and sex on television. We all find ourselves on this list. We all cast ourselves on God’s mercy, waiting for him to birth new life out of us. That person you are tempted to judge is certainly sinful, just like you.

This season, reflect on your sin. Confess, repent, and trust our God to bring new life. Among other things, this will keep us from judging our neighbors.

“Remember that you are dust. And to dust you shall return.”



3 Responses

  1. Amen brother! I really enjoyed this reflection.

  2. I have been reflecting on this. The biggest issue I have is that judgment is not always a choice, it is often a feeling, especially when a hurt is involved. I can think of a few people and even groups of people whom I feel judgment toward. I don’t want to; but I do, because I am fallen. This is how I feel because of my experiences in this fallen world ; and it is not up to me.

  3. Good stuff, Pat. And that is a real struggle, not only with judgment, but with every feeling we have that quickly leads us to commit sin.

    I read a Psalm on Thursday that I thought really spoke to this question. It is Psalm 73. I may blog about how it relates to the question you posed. In a nutshell, I think the Psalmist reminds us how we should handle our true feelings when it comes to God.

    We tend to err on either lying to ourselves (I am not feeling judgmental) or glorying in our ‘honesty’ without allowing God to change and shape us (I am just being honest with God about how I am feeling judgmental).

    Neither of these seem to be the right approach. We should be like the Psalmist. He took his true feelings before God, he laid them before Him, and he waited for the true word God had for those feelings.

    When we feel feelings of judgment, we should take those before God, and wait silently for his healing word that will heal the brokenness that causes us to judge.

    Thanks for chiming in.

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