“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.
The goal of “not being judgmental” isn’t fully possible – it simply isn’t. It’s kind of like humility: the second that you become cognizant of the fact that you may be doing it well, you’ve lost it. That, in and of itself, is a judgement. “Use your best judgement” people say. We need to judge in order to make decisions (ones we hope are good). We need to judge in order to develop a clear understanding of what we believe. We need to judge in order to stand against injustice.
But notice, the text starts by saying, “Don’t judge, so that you won’t be judged.” This section of scripture is often talked about in terms of “You get what you give,” but we also know that that isn’t necessarily true. Good people get bad lots all the time. We know that just because you don’t judge someone doesn’t mean that they aren’t judging you. Instead of reading this opening line as:
To keep people from judging you, don’t judge them,
try reading it as,
Stop rushing to judge others. Then they’ll be too distracted and busy to judge you.
I think that that makes for a whole new look at the second part of this passage, the famous text about seeing a splinter in someone’s eye, despite the log in your own. “You deceive yourself!” it reads. Own up to the log you have in your eye! Recognize the work that needs to be done in yourself and be willing to do that work.
Even when the log is gone, that doesn’t necessarily mean people will stop judging you. But if you don’t judge, you can use that energy to grow.
By Rachel Callender
For Pondering & Prayer
What’s the log in your eye? What step can you take today toward taking it out?
Prayer: What’s the log in your eye? What step can you take today toward taking it out? Amen.