Without a Word

I had occasion, during my former career as a sound engineer for concerts, to hang out with rock and roll bands backstage.  One extraordinary incident sticks in my mind but not something you might guess.  It had to do with one man’s silent example.  The musicians (who you might recognize) were sitting around between sets, relaxing, when the conversation turned ugly.  It began with a critical remark about someone they all knew.  Then one person after another piled on, and their insults quickly became more vicious.  Each new jibe was received with raucous laughter and backslapping. But one guy, the bass player in the band, did not join in. He never said a word, but quietly stood up and walked out.  I remember the look of sadness on his face to this day.

I don’t know anything about his beliefs except for what I witnessed that night and on one other occasion when I saw him gently and respectfully refuse an offer by a female fan.  But that guy influenced me with his silent example of kindness.  I suspect he may have been familiar with these words, written by Jesus’ brother, James:

“Brothers, do not slander one another. Anyone who speaks against his brother or judges him speaks against the law and judges it. When you judge the law, you are not keeping it, but sitting in judgment on it. There is only one Lawgiver and Judge, the one who is able to save and destroy. But you—who are you to judge your neighbor?” (James 4:11-12)

When kids slander, they call it bullying and it makes headlines.  When adults do it, it’s business as usual on Facebook.  But God is the only One with enough information and insight to judge.  And He, the only Lawgiver, tells us humans, don’t do it.  It’s one thing to take exception to what someone else does, but it’s not our place to judge or condemn the person.

By the way, when this talks of “judging the law,” that’s Bible-speak for the attitude that says, “I know better than God what is acceptable in this situation, so I’m going to do it my way.”  Not a good policy.

That bass player was one of the stepping stones God laid out for me as I drew close to Jesus.  He probably wouldn’t remember what he did.  But I do and I’m grateful.

Quotes: The Holy Bible : New International Version. 1996, c1984 (electronic ed.). Grand Rapids: Zondervan.

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