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In the medical field, there are two radically different focuses. One is to treat, the other is to cure. Treatment involves mitigation of symptoms, management of pain. Curing involves removal of the root cause of the affliction, eradication of the disease. When we are diseased, most of us settle for treatment. We learn to live with our disease. Look at that statement. “Live with…”: It’s like a welcome houseguest. “…our disease…”: We take ownership of the disease and it becomes our own. We do not easily give up the things that we own.
In the paradigm of spirituality, forgiveness is merely a treatment, a treatment for the disease of judgmentalism. If you have judged, you are already sick. If you forgive, perhaps the damage of your current bout of judgment has been arrested. Maybe the pain has been ended or at least lessened. But you are still living with the disease of judgmentalism. Another bout can flair up at any time. Yes, you can take your “prescription” of forgiveness and the treatment will succeed again — until your next episode of judgmentalism.
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Forgiveness is indeed powerful medicine. The Lord’s Prayer invokes forgiveness both as a request to receive and as a promise to deliver. But really it is just a concession, just as divorce on every sort of ground was a concession of Moses (according to Jesus) to treat but not cure the treacherous behavior to which Israelite men were prone.
If you are willing, if you are willing to give something up, you can be healed. The only way to heal is to stop judging. When you stop judging, something remarkable happens: you no longer have any need for your prescription called forgiveness. You can only forgive that which you have previously judged. Without judgment, there is nothing to forgive. What follows is that there is no need for forgiveness for yourself since, as Jesus said, you will be judged as you have judged. If you have not judged, you will not be judged, it is that simple. Simple but not so easy. We are judging machines in judging families in judging societies.
It takes a real force of will to stop judging. When Jesus said, “Stop judging” he wasn’t asking the impossible. He didn’t say, “Stop eating” or “Stop breathing” although sometimes that might sound easier. So become aware. Notice your judgments, forgive quickly and do not stop there. Take note that you judged and recall that you have no such right. Finally, forgive yourself for judging. With practice you will judge less and less and forgiveness will become rarer and rarer until its necessity ceases to exist.
Have you put this into practice? Share your experiences by commenting below.
Photo credit: Nina Matthews Photography