1 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.
Jesus condemns hypocrisy in believers. What we find objectionable in others, we can’t accept in ourselves. What we condemn in others, we have to be willing to judge ourselves for as well.
I’ve read and heard people take this to be saying that, “so long as I apply the same standard to others that I do myself, I’m free to judge all I want.”
Except, do we? Ever?
If I am running late and maybe drive a bit more aggressively as a result, or if I am short with someone after having a bad day, in all likelihood I’ll give myself a pass. MY actions are ALWAYS justified by MY circumstances. But if someone cuts us off or is short with us, how likely will we be to chalk that up to someone else’s extenuating circumstances?
I would argue that is precisely Jesus’ point. You will never judge others in the way that you would judge yourself. If we think we can, we deceive ourselves.
And so, Jesus says, if you can’t be fair about it, then the goal should be not to judge at all.
Now that’s unrealistic. All of us have to make decisions everyday about right and wrong, about what we will and won’t do, what we will and won’t allow.
But followers of Jesus should understand this: if you do decide to judge others, that same standard will be applied to you in the end.
So those who hope for God’s mercy in our lives ought to live in light of that grace, so that we are likewise merciful in how we deal with those around us.
by Joe Monahan
For Pondering & Prayer
How can you make space in your heart and mind to practice mercy today? Maybe begin by reflecting on moments in your life when people have shown you mercy and grace, and how much you appreciated and perhaps really needed it.
Prayer: Holy Jesus, we know that all of us are righteous in our own eyes. And we also know that all of us fall short of that perfect love to which you call us, and for which you gave yourself up on the cross. Help us to remember your mercy, and so to extend the same grace, kindness, and forgiveness to others that we would hope you’d extend toward us. In your name, amen.