Keeping the Faith: Minding our business

Published: Thursday, January 17, 2013 at 12:41 PM.

To that end, there is a wonderful story from famed Rabbi Mendel Futerfas, who survived years in the Soviet Gulags of Siberia. In the Gulag, one of the many activities that was prohibited and dealt with harshly was playing cards. Still, some of the inmates managed to smuggle in a deck of cards, and they would play for hours without the guards knowing.

Finally, however, an informant sold the card-playing prisoners out. The guards would storm in with surprise inspections looking for the cards, but could never find them. They checked every inch of the barracks including strip searches of the inmates, but the result was always the same: Nothing. Yet, as soon as the guards left, the cards would reappear and the games continued.

Rabbi Mendel couldn’t understand how this happened, but eventually the card players let him in on their secret.

“You see,” they said, “we are professional pickpockets. As soon as the guards enter the barracks, we slip the cards into their pockets. Right before they leave, we slip them back out again. It never occurs to the guards to check their own pockets.”

“Judging” does not prevent us from having and sharing opinions. It doesn’t mean we can’t give a verbal witness to our faith. But it does mean we refuse — absolutely refuse — to condemn others. We leave “room in our hearts for God’s grace,” and that room is made possible by looking in and emptying our own pockets first.

Ronnie McBrayer is a syndicated columnist, speaker, and author of multiple books. You can read more and receive regular e-columns in your inbox at www.ronniemcbrayer.me.


 



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