There seems to be something of a cottage industry about what to eat nowadays. I keep hearing about going “gluten free,” or “no white foods.” Friends tell me that “processed” foods are poison. And to make sure my fruits and vegetables are “organic.” I am also warned about “antibiotics” in my poultry and meat produces and to look for “free range” chicken.
It seems like a full time job just keeping up on what’s good and bad for you today!
And what’s more, I’m equally sure we need to pay better attention to what goes into our bodies! The truth is there is very little progress to be made on a life set on “automatic pilot” and, as one great philosopher said, “the unexamined life is not worth living.”
The real truth is we need to live more simply. We need to abandon the “convenience” lifestyle that seems to do nothing but euthanize our bodies and souls! But what we don’t need to do is fall into the trap of insisting everyone around us do the same. Have you ever heard the old saying “Lead by example.” Well, we’ve never actually been able to improve on that simple wisdom.
Listen to what the Apostle Paul teaches us today! Now, I need to warn you, this isn’t going to be easy to hear. He says: “BRETHREN, if we judged ourselves truly, we should not be judged. But when we are judged by the Lord, we are chastened so that we may not be condemned along with the world.” 1 Corinthians 11:31-32 (By way of explanation, when you see the word “BRETHREN” at the front of an Epistle reading, this is the traditional way to begin a public reading of the Epistle Lesson. It isn’t in the scriptures this way, but it is a hint that this passage is meant to be read publicly for the whole community. This is why I prefer to use the Daily Readings from goarch.org.)
If we would judge ourselves truly then there would be no need for any outside judgement to wake us up to our own poverty; our own spiritual needs!
No wonder I am to love my enemies! No wonder I am to be harsh with myself and gentle with others! No wonder I need to explore my own soul before I try to correct all around me! No wonder I have to remove the “beam” in my own eye so that I will see clearly to remove the “splinter” from my brother’s eye!
How much trouble and heartache could we save ourselves if we simply expended our energies correcting ourselves first before we attempted to “save the world?” Over and over the fathers encourage us to ignore the sins of those around us and focus on being healed from our own sins. St. Seraphim was right “Acquire the Spirit of Peace, and a Thousand Souls Around you will be Saved!”
If you get the chance, read the entire chapter of 1 Corinthians 11. You will see this bit of wisdom from St. Paul comes as he teaches the Corinthian Church about the holy Eucharist and how we are to approach taking the Lord into us at the Eucharistic Meal. So, in the middle of teaching us how we should “eat,” the Apostle says for us to examine ourselves first and foremost and we would not need to be judged by either the poor consequences of bad decisions, or at the “awesome judgement seat of Christ.”
Today, save yourself from yourself! Spend your best energies examining your motives, your actions, and your attitudes and behaviors. Judge yourself truly and you won’t be so easily offended when you sense others are “judging” you! Be free by leading by example. Today, judge yourself (By the way, that doesn’t mean “condemn yourself”), and then pray “Lord, have mercy.”