I'm far more judgmental than I'd like to believe.
Ask a random person to give you a verse of the bible, and often you’ll receive this answer:
Judge not, that you be not judged. For with the judgment you pronounce you will be judged, and with the measure you use it will be measured to you. (Matthew 7:1-2, ESV)
I can easily wield this verse like a weapon.
“Don’t try to force your opinion on me!”
“You can’t tell me what to do and what not to do! Don’t judge me!”
“Who are you to tell me what I’m doing is wrong, just look at all the things you do wrong!”
It’s funny how I can take a statement directed toward me, and direct it toward others. But it’s so easy for me to judge. I weaponize the scriptures and use them to condemn others while justifying myself. I take God’s written words of life and wield them as an instrument of death. (The Tempter does the same thing to Jesus in Matthew 4 - uh oh…)
Jesus’ words here aren’t a weapon for me to use to defend myself. They are a mirror, reflecting back to me the reality of who I am. When I get defensive for myself against perceived judgment from others, I’m falling right into the trap that Jesus described as he continued teaching:
Why do you see the speck that is in your brother’s eye, but do not notice the log that is in your own eye? Or how can you say to your brother, ‘Let me take the speck out of your eye,’ when there is the log in your own eye? You hypocrite, first take the log out of your own eye, and then you will see clearly to take the speck out of your brother’s eye. (Matthew 7:3–5, ESV)
It’s easy to see all the hypocrites out there. What I need to see is the hypocrite right here (points at self).
When I see ugliness and depravity in others, how do I respond? In judgment and condemnation? Or with sympathy and mercy? If I’m honest, it’s often the former rather than the latter. But when the ugliness and depravity is revealed in me, it’s easy to respond, “Judge not!”
I am learning when I see sin and depravity in others that there is really only one healthy first response: for me to stop and recognize that the same depravity I see in them exists in me. I am capable of terrible thoughts and actions. There but for the grace of God, go I.
Oh, my sin may not manifest in exactly the same ways as theirs. My depravity may have different consequences and ramifications. Theirs may be more or less socially acceptable than mine. Their issues may cause far greater harm to others than any of my wrongdoings.
But Jesus says, “Judge Not.” And he says it to me. This doesn’t mean checking discernment at the door. This doesn’t mean avoiding calling sin, sin. There’s a time to help a brother or sister remove a speck. That can happen once we realize that when Jesus says “Judge not,” he isn’t giving us law, but revealing his grace.
Jesus sets us free from judging one another.
I’m learning to recognize that what I think needs to change in your life may not line up with what God thinks (imagine that!). I hear Jesus saying again, “Judge not, that you not be judged.” By what measure am I judging you when I think I know the most important issue that needs to be addressed in your life? And how will I react if I am judged by that same measure?
I want to learn to love people where they are at, and to accept them as those who bear the image of the Eternal God. I want to pray less for what I think needs to change in their life, and more for God to reveal to them what he wants to do in their life, whatever that may be.
You see, God’s judgment didn’t lead me to repentance. Wrath and condemnation didn’t overcome my opposition to him. It was his kindness that led me to repentance (Romans 2:4).
I want to extend grace to the most difficult of people, because that’s a measure I’d hope to be measured by.
Looking for more?