Human beings love to judge, not always audibly or so that it’s obvious to others, but often in our thought life. We can do it all the time without even realising it. Many times we judge others for the simple reason that we want to feel better than them. We are very good at noticing the faults of others but completely incapable of seeing those same faults within ourselves.
Judging others is one of the most basic of human sins, it produces all sorts of evil within us including; hate, pride and jealousy.
In this part of His sermon, Jesus is very keen that we should view ourselves honestly. He wants to expose the sins of the Scribes and Pharisee’s who couldn’t see the wrong they were doing. The bible talks elsewhere about our ability to perceive ourselves honestly as ‘sober judgement’. That is a very good description. If you can imagine the opposite as ‘inebriated judgement’ when people have had a few drinks they start to lose their ability to see clearly, to maybe over exaggerate and view things in a distorted way.
The Scribes and Pharisee’s were very prone to making harsh judgements on other people and being a lot more lenient on themselves. They were so proud, self-righteous and smug. So convinced about their own superiority that they found it very easy to be condemning and judgemental. They would even go as far as adding to God’s law, lots of extra regulations and rules, as if to say “God, you haven’t quite covered all the bases, your laws aren’t quite good enough. Here, let’s give you a hand!” No wonder Jesus got so angry and came after them.
Do you see anything of yourself in the Scribes and Pharisee’s? Perhaps if you don’t you are more like them than you think!
Today’s passage is very sobering. God says that He will use the standard we use to judge others to judge us. Think about it, unchecked we can be very harsh in our judgements. God is going to be just as harsh with us.
As we saw last week, this verse doesn’t mean that we don’t judge at all. It also doesn’t mean we are blind to others’ faults and pretend that everything is alright when it isn’t. It also doesn’t mean we are not critical sometimes. We need to confront sin when it presents itself.
What we are not to do is judge motives and intentions, second guessing why people are like they are and do what they do. Only God knows the motives of people’s hearts and it is extremely dangerous to try to muscle in on His territory.
We can make these sorts of judgements very easily, almost subconsciously. When I was analysing my own attitudes, I was thinking how easily I can make judgements about people because I perceive they are not committed to the church as I think they should be or don’t serve or attend prayer meetings or many other reasons that I consider important. I have to constantly check myself now and repent of any wrong attitudes. When we are in tune with the Holy Spirit, this becomes a lot easier. We need to be sensitive to His leading and not ‘sear’ our conscience by ignoring his promptings. The Holy Spirit is the most precious guide to help us maintain good relationships and attitudes.
In today’s verse, Jesus is giving us a choice. Choose to forgive and you will be forgiven, choose to show mercy and you will receive mercy. God will judge you in the same way you judge others. It will be far better for you if you show grace, mercy, kindness and forgiveness because guess what? That is what you will get!
If you don’t show mercy and kindness, know that you will be judged as harshly as you judge others, because God is very fair. Judgement may not happen instantly, but know that it will surely come. It can be very dangerous to think you are getting away with something when in fact Judgement is being stored up against you. It would be much better for us if it did happen sooner so that we can deal with it immediately. I for one would much rather get things sorted now and be in good relationship with God and others than to wait for stored up judgement, wouldn’t you?
Next week we will continue in this theme and look at what Jesus said about fixing a speck in someone’s eye when we’ve got a plank in our own.