7 “Don’t judge, so that you won’t be judged. 2 You’ll receive the same judgment you give. Whatever you deal out will be dealt out to you. 3 Why do you see the splinter that’s in your brother’s or sister’s eye, but don’t notice the log in your own eye? 4 How can you say to your brother or sister, ‘Let me take the splinter out of your eye,’ when there’s a log in your eye? 5 You deceive yourself! First take the log out of your eye, and then you’ll see clearly to take the splinter out of your brother’s or sister’s eye.
As I write, I am thinking about my dad who was a family court judge for most of his career. His work commanded respect, yet my dad was never an opposing figure. While some people might envy the power and judgment of what a wrap of his gavel meant, secretly my brothers and sisters and I sometimes wished that he’d move on to another profession. Dad never spoke much about the specifics, but we all knew the career was very hard on him. Although it was his calling, the long hours and the horrors of what can happen to children made the job much less glamorous than it appeared from the outside. When other judges took their turns in the family court division, all asked to be reassigned the moment that that was possible.
From the outside, judging people seems easy. We’ve all done it –made assumptions about whomever or whatever seems to be wrong with…(fill in your blank). It seems to me that it is always easier to decide what someone else should do when looking from the outside in. Perhaps it is only human nature to hear another’s plight and then to say, “I know what you should do….” Meanwhile, we continue to ignore that which we need to change within ourselves.
Even when we know a person and/or their situation well, do we really know when looking from the outside? We are just not qualified to really know; but I worry that it is a common habit of Christians to think that we do know better. We are still outsiders casting aspersions on what someone else needs to do to change. In fact, such judgment may be the common thread that drives people away from faith, and therefore, from their own closeness with God.
It is fortunate that Jesus’ own words caution us, “you’ll receive the same judgment you give.” In other words, the decisions that we make about others while looking from the outside will be the very judgments that come back to us in our final days. So this is to say that my judgmental ways will come back to me in the end. In reality, I cannot decide about another person’s righteousness while looking from the outside in. There really is only one who is qualified, who does not just look at us from the outside, but knows us from within. There is only one who knows our hearts and minds and ways, who is truly worthy of judging each of us because he lived it. From the inside, looking out, there is only one, Jesus Christ, Our Lord and Savior. He is the One who is qualified to judge the totality of our lives from the inside looking out.
by Barbara Carlson
For Pondering & Prayer
How might you see judgment getting in the way of faith? How has God offered you grace instead of harsh judgment?
Prayer: Loving Jesus, only you are qualified to judge me from the inside out. Yet in my humanness, I can find many ways to look past my own faults while still judging others. Help me to exercise the same compassion and grace for others that you have so lovingly shared with me. Amen.