“Do not judge others, and you will not be judged.” (Jesus – Matthew 7:1)
We all know that we are not supposed to judge people. In fact, Jesus makes it pretty clear that those who judge, will be judged. So Jesus thinks this is a pretty important issue. He takes this judging thing very seriously. And so should we…
But I wonder, sometimes, if we really understand what Jesus is talking about. It seems to me, that if we are going to obey Jesus, we really need to understand what it is He wants us to do… and NOT do.
This is more difficult than we might think.
We have all seen those people who make these elaborate signs declaring what God hates – and condemning the people who attach themselves to what God hates. If you were to stop them and ask them why they were doing such a thing, they would likely tell you that they are just standing as a voice of God’s truth in the midst of a culture that is ignorant (or rebellious) to what God likes and dislikes. They do not see themselves as “judging” – just pointing people to the truth.
We have also seen those people who sit (or stand) at busy intersections or parking lots with signs telling a sad tale – and asking for financial help. I know my first thought is seldom about their expressed need – I am quick to find their ulterior motive and turn away from their plea (and feel quite justified in doing so – because, after all, I don’t want to be foolish and give money to someone who will just spend it on some terrible habit/addiction [that’s not really helping them anyway!]).
We don’t call either of these things “judging.” But Jesus does.
The essence of what Jesus is talking about is when we put ourselves in a position of superiority over someone else. We are looking down on them. We are setting ourselves up as “better than…” And we seldom ever recognize we are doing it.
In our lesson from yesterday, the crowds that followed Jesus were quick to determine that some people are deserving of God’s love – and some are NOT. Bar-Timaeus did not measure up to their standards – and they had no problem putting him in his place. I’m pretty sure they didn’t really see themselves as judging him – but they were. They determined that Bar-Timaeus wasn’t a worthy recipient of divine attention – because he was beneath them.
The real simple definition of judging is this: we are judging whenever we put ourselves in the position of God, Himself. We don His royal robes, elevate ourselves to a place of authority, and pronounce our sentence upon those who have not lived up to what we think they should do, or be.
The thing that was so shocking about Jesus was that, when He was with us, He refused to judge those who were so quickly judged by others. He ate with sinners. He hung out with people who were wrong more than they were right. And He seemed welcome (and comfortable) among them.
Or see it this way: God came and lived among us and He refused to condemn those so often deemed worthy of condemnation. Like the outcast Bar-Timaeus, Jesus had the time to help those who seemed so undeserving…
If we are honest, we are all fairly quick to determine who deserves our time and attention. I am finding that maybe that is because we do not truly value human beings the way God does. He loves the unlovable. He finds worth in the worthless. He accepts and embraces the rejected. He did not come to condemn… but to save.
And if we are intent upon representing Him, we really must do the same.
Prayer focus: God, open my eyes to see people as You see people… and to love as You love them.