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January 31, 2018, 7:02 AM

Judge Not?

Grace and peace to you from God our Father and the Lord Jesus Christ.

Do not judge, or you too will be judged. For in the same way you judge others, you will be judged, and with the measure you use, it will be measured to you. Why do you look at the speck of sawdust in your brother’s eye and pay no attention to the plank in your own eye? How can you say to your brother, ‘Let me take the speck out of your eye,’ when all the time there is a plank in your own eye? You hypocrite, first take the plank out of your own eye, and then you will see clearly to remove the speck from your brother’s eye.” (Matthew 7:1-5)

One of the hardest spiritual tasks is to live without a critical spirit of others. Sometimes we aren’t even aware of how deeply rooted our prejudices are. We may think that we relate to people who are different from us, but in concrete circumstances our spontaneous thoughts, uncensored words, and knee-jerk reactions often reveal that our predispositions are still there. Many of us spend an enormous amount of unnecessary energy making up our minds about other people and their actions (or inaction). Not a day goes by without somebody doing or saying something that evokes in us the need to form an opinion about them. We hear a lot, see a lot, and know a lot. The feeling that we have to sort it all out in our minds and make judgments can be quite oppressive. The desert fathers said that judging others is a heavy burden. Once we can let go of our need to judge others, we will experience an immense inner freedom. Once we are free from judging, we will also be free for mercy.

William Barclay has listed three great reasons why no person should judge another. First, we never know the whole facts or the whole person. Second, it is almost impossible for any person to be strictly impartial in his or her judgement. Third, no person is good enough to judge any other person.

In Matthew 7:1-5, Jesus drew a vivid picture of a man with a plank in his own eye trying to extract a speck of dust from someone else’s eye. The clear point being that only the faultless has a right to look for faults in others. Unfortunately, every organization and every church is full of people who are prepared to criticize from the body of the hall, or even from an arm-chair, but who would never dream of taking office themselves. The world is full of people who claim the right to be extremely vocal in criticism and totally exempt from action. Yet, no person has a right to criticize another unless they are prepared at least to try do the thing they criticize better. No person has a right to criticize others unless they are prepared to venture themselves in the same situation. We have quite enough to do to rectify our own lives without seeking critically to rectify the lives of others. Therefore, we would do well to concentrate on our own faults, and to leave the faults of others to God.

Let us join in prayer: Gracious Father, thank you for loving me unconditionally. Help me to go forth and do the same for others as I interact with those whom You place in my path. Amen.

You are Loved!

Pastor Jason Stevens

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