The death of Trayvon Martin is a terrible tragedy, one that is mirrored by countless acts of violence throughout the world each day. Every now and then, one of these tragedies turns into a circus sideshow act that is used to polarize people against one another. Fair notice: I am not going to “take a side” on whether Zimmerman was guilty of murder or innocent because of self-defense in this article. Instead, I am going to expose a deeper truth made manifest by this whole ordeal.
Some people use tragedy to promote personal fame and make money. I will use Rev. Al Sharpton as an example for my case. He came forth, supposedly for a righteous cause, to see that justice was served. He helped make sure that Zimmerman stood trial in the death of Martin. That is fine. It is a good thing to allow a jury to examine the evidence and make a decision. That is what the legal system is for.
Well, the jury weighed the evidence and made their decision based on the evidence. A certain segment of our society seriously found fault with the decision. They do not want justice. What they really want is revenge for a supposed wrong.
A popular subplot in movies and cop shows is for a cop to arrest or shoot a criminal. Then the relative, friend or partner in crime of that criminal gets upset that the first person was caught, and vows revenge against the cop.
How does this relate to the Martin tragedy? While most of those who protested the verdict obeyed the law and kept the peace, some did not. Some chose to riot, and commit criminal acts of mischief. How is that justified? Zimmerman was found innocent, so they commit crimes themselves to express how innocent Trayvon was of attacking Zimmerman. Moreover, one group, the Black Panthers, have even offered a reward for the person who “brings justice” to Zimmerman. In most states, murder for hire and vigilantism are illegal, yet they are not “brought to justice.”
We don’t hear Al Sharpton protesting this illegal activity, the proposed murder of a man found legally innocent of wrongdoing. Nor do we see this supposed preacher of righteousness loudly calling for justice when a black person kills a white person and escapes legal prosecution. No. The only time he jumps in front of a camera is when he is defending a black person or attacking a white person for something said or done against a black. Al Sharpton loves to play the race card. Thus the whole issue for most of these protesters is not about one man killing another, and whether it was self defense. The issue is that a white man killed a black man. It is unrighteous judgment.
Don’t get me wrong. Some white people are just as quick to judge other races, too. Every race has those who judge others simply because of their ethnicity. However, if a white preacher stood up and protested a black man found innocent of killing a white man, and said the same things Sharpton did, he would be labeled a racist. Instead of a media frenzy over the supposed murder, the media frenzy would be over the racist white preacher. A black preacher plays the race card, and the media agrees with him instead of accusing him of divisiveness. If a white preacher plays the race card, he is a racist, and trying to turn blacks back into slaves.
The real issue, then, is judgment. It’s not racism – that is just a form of judgment. The Bible says that the same measuring cup we use to judge others, God is going to use to judge us. That should catch our attention, perhaps even cause a little fear. The fear of the Lord is the beginning of wisdom.
Every one of us has at least some tendency to judge others. Sometimes it is based on race, sometimes it is based on a particular sin or action we do not like. Some even use their judgmental attitude to seek fame or make money, or both. The love of money is a root of every kind of evil.
Political correctness is also judgment. It is politically correct for blacks to express racism, but not for whites. It is politically correct for homosexuals to express their views freely and openly, but Christians who call homosexuality a sin are bigots. The list goes on and on.
Christians are just as guilty. We judge the one who sins as evil, instead of just judging the sin. Every one of us has sin – if you think you do not, then the truth is not in you (1John 1). All sin stinks in the nostrils of God. We tend to categorize sin: “He is a homosexual and deserves hell, but all I did was look at my friend’s wife and think she was hot. That’s not so bad.” Or, “He murdered that man, but all I do is gossip a bit about others, maybe malign their reputation and motive. Murdering someone’s character is not nearly as evil as taking someone’s life.”
We justify our own sins, but quickly judge someone else’s. We think our own motives are good, but theirs – well, they are just plain evil. Everyone does good in his own sight. It all stinks like an open sewer to God.
The Apostle Paul said that he examined himself daily to see if he was in the faith. He would look at the things he did every day, and his motives, looking for things that did not line up with God’s ways. He first removed the plank from his own eye, so he could see clearly to remove the speck from his brother’s eye.
How many of us focus on our own selves. When a person realizes just how sinful they really are, then instead of judging others they will have compassion. When I understand that I am the worst of sinners, saved and made holy only by the Blood of Christ working in me, then I comprehend that the murderer and the homosexual is not any more evil than I am in my sin nature.
Self-defense or not, Zimmerman is going to have to live with the fact that he took another person’s life. If his actions were not justified in the circumstances, then he is going to have to face God’s righteous judgment. The Rev. Sharpton, supposedly a Christian religious leader, needs to remember that fact. Instead of seeking revenge, let God deal with it. But then, he couldn’t use this opportunity to promote his own fame. People are drawn to controversy, pain, and judgment, not to forgiveness and the righteousness of Christ.