Updated: Jul 4, 2018
The legendary American business leader and motivational speaker W. Clement Stone once said, “Big doors swing on little hinges.” In this article I want to introduce you to a little hinge that will open a big door into the realm of the miraculous.
In the gospel of Matthew chapter four, we read about the commencement of Jesus’ ministry: how he went about all Galilee, teaching in their synagogues, preaching the gospel of the kingdom, and healing all kinds of sickness and all kinds of disease among the people.
Then his fame went throughout all Syria; and they brought to him all sick people who were afflicted with various diseases and torments, and those who were demon-possessed, epileptics, and paralytics; and he healed them. Great multitudes followed him – from Galilee, and from Decapolis, Jerusalem, Judea, and beyond the Jordan (Matt. 4:24-25).
Interestingly enough, the next verse says, “And seeing the multitudes, he went up on a mountain, and when he was seated his disciples came to him and he taught them.” Rather than capitalising on his popularity as most marketing experts would advise, Jesus did the exact opposite: He withdrew from the enthusiastic crowds and called his close followers into a closed teaching session. Why? Because he knew that the expansion of his ministry depended on his ability to reproduce himself in the lives of his most committed disciples.
And in the next three chapters of Matthew, often referred to as ‘The sermon on the mount’, Jesus unfolds the mysteries of the kingdom of heaven to his chosen ones. In essence, it is a revelation of the nature and character of God, and how the Divine nature and character can be expressed through human behaviour. Jesus canvasses such subjects as forgiveness, generosity, sincerity and humility. He alludes to the unconditional and indiscriminate love of God, who “sends rain on the just and on the unjust” and then urges his followers to “be perfect just as your Father in heaven is perfect” (Matt. 5:48).
All the while he peppers his teaching with glimpses of a miraculous life in which every need is supplied and every prayer is answered! (Matt. 6:33; 7:7-11). But the door to the supernatural life swings on the hinges of faith and love. In Matthew 7:1-5 Jesus said,
“Judge not, that you be not judged. For with what judgement you judge, you will be judged; and with the measure you use, it will be measured back to you. And why do you look at the speck in your brother’s eye, but do not consider the plank in your own eye? Or how can you say to your brother, ‘Let me remove the speck from your eye’; and look, a plank is in your own eye? Hypocrite! First remove the plank from your own eye, and then you will see clearly to remove the speck from your brother’s eye.”
It is only from a place of non-judgment that grace and mercy can be extended to those in need. For example, if I am praying for someone who is sick, but at the same time I am harbouring thoughts, albeit unspoken, that he or she has brought this condition on themselves, that they deserve to suffer, and that they are not a worthy recipient of God’s grace, those very thoughts of judgment will block the flow of God’s Spirit through me.
To the degree that we live in a place of non-judgment, to that same degree God will manifest his Spirit through us in signs, wonders and miracles. When we reach the place where we judge nothing and no one that comes across our path, we will have stepped into the realm of infinite possibilities where miracles are a way of life and healing flows like a river.
And yet it’s amazing how humans are so prone to judgement and condemnation. We reject and denounce anything that we don’t understand; anything that challenges our paradigms of thinking and believing. The apostle Paul warned, “Knowledge makes people arrogant” (1 Cor. 8:1). As the Scribes and Pharisees demonstrated, a little knowledge is dangerous: it makes us feel like an expert and thus, qualified to judge others.
The truth is: only God sees all and knows all. At best, we know in part and see in a mirror dimly (1 Cor. 13:12). Paul indicated that he didn’t even have enough confidence to judge his own heart. And he admonished the Corinthians, “Therefore judge nothing before the time, until the Lord comes, who will both bring to light the hidden things of darkness and reveal the motives of the hearts. Then each one’s praise will come from God” (1 Cor. 4:3-5).
The miracle working power of non-judgment
Jesus illustrated the power of non-judgement and its capacity to work miracles in the much loved story of the Good Samaritan. We know this story from Sunday School, but I wonder if we have really grasped the dynamics of human behaviour contained therein.
“A certain man went down from Jerusalem to Jericho, and fell among thieves, who stripped him of his clothing, wounded him, and departed, leaving him half dead. Now by chance a certain priest came down that road. And when he saw him, he passed by on the other side. Likewise a Levite, when he arrived at the place, came and looked, and passed by on the other side. But a certain Samaritan, as he journeyed, came where he was. And when he saw him, he had compassion.
“So he went to him and bandaged his wounds, pouring on oil and wine; and he set him on his own animal, brought him to an inn, and took care of him. On the next day, when he departed, he took out two denarii, gave them to the innkeeper, and said to him, ‘Take care of him; and whatever more you spend, when I come again, I will repay you.’ So which of these three do you think was neighbour to him who fell among thieves?”
And he said, “He who showed mercy on him.” Then Jesus said to him, “Go and do likewise” (Luke 10:30-37).
“A certain man went down from Jerusalem to Jericho.” We don’t know if he was black or white, fat or thin, rich or poor, Jew or Gentile, slave or free. In fact, we know as much about him as the three men who saw him lying on the side of the road. In other words, there was no antecedent knowledge of the victim to prejudice these men’s opinions, apart from his appearance. And it was on the basis of his appearance that the first two men, the priest and the Levite, passed judgement on this pitiful wretch.
Jesus said that “when they saw him” they passed by on the other side of the road. Something happened “when they saw him” – a thought entered their minds, perhaps, “he’s a sinner, he’s unclean, he deserves what he’s got ….” Or, “if I get close to him I might get contaminated …” An opinion was formed; judgement was passed. Their attitudes were hardened, their hearts were closed, and there was absolutely no possibility of grace and mercy flowing through them to the wounded man.
In stark contrast to the two religious leaders, the Good Samaritan was in a place of non-judgement. “When he saw him,” Jesus said, “he had compassion on him.” The Samaritan didn’t ask how or why, whether the victim had sinned, or if it was a case of reaping what you sow. He was only concerned with one thing – the victim’s welfare – and to that end he opened his heart and his purse.
He went to the victim, bandaged his wounds, and poured on oil and wine, symbolising the presence and power of the Holy Spirit. The message is clear: God’s Spirit can only flow through you and effect healing and restoration if you have an open heart – a heart that is free of prejudice and judgement.
Jesus said to the Jews, “Do not judge according to appearance” (John 7:24). Likewise, the apostle Paul warned of those who “boast in appearance and not in heart” (2 Cor. 5:12) and urged the believers not to evaluate people on the basis of outward appearance (2 Cor. 10:7). Let us remember the words of the Lord Jesus who said, “Inasmuch as you do it to the least (most unlikely and improbable) of my brothers, you do it unto me.”
In conclusion, I would like to quote that diminutive Albanian nun and giant of the faith, Mother Theresa of Calcutta, who perhaps more than anyone else in our generation exemplified the miracle working power of non-judgement:
“It is very important that right from the beginning, we simply live the Gospel. Live the Gospel in prayer; live the Gospel in words. Don’t be discouraged if you don’t reach the height right away …
“The fullness of our heart comes in our actions: how I treat the leper, how I treat the dying person, how I treat the homeless. Sometimes it is more difficult to work with street people than with the people in our homes for the dying because the dying are peaceful and waiting; they are ready to go to God. You can touch the sick and believe, or you can touch the leper and believe, that is the body of Christ you are touching, but it is more difficult when these people are drunk or shouting to think that this is Jesus in that distressing disguise. How clean and loving our hands must be to be able to bring compassion to them!”