“Do not judge others, and you will not be judged. Do not condemn others, or it will all come back against you. Forgive others, and you will be forgiven. Give, and you will receive. Your gift will return to you in full—pressed down, shaken together to make room for more, running over, and poured into your lap. The amount you give will determine the amount you get back.
“Then Jesus gave the following illustration: ‘Can one blind person lead another? Won’t they both fall into a ditch? Students are not greater than their teacher. But the student who is fully trained will become like the teacher.'”
“And why worry about a speck in your friend’s eye when you have a log in your own? How can you think of saying, ‘Friend, let me help you get rid of that speck in your eye,’ when you can’t see past the log in your own eye? Hypocrite! First get rid of the log in your own eye; then you will see well enough to deal with the speck in your friend’s eye.”
If I asked the average person what kind of people the Christian Church in America is filled with, what would they say? Hands down, the answer would be that the Church is filled with hypocritical, judgmental people who would rather condemn them to Hell than help them. Let’s be honest – we stink at loving people, but we are great at telling them what they are doing wrong.
This is devastating to our witness and effectiveness. In fact, Jesus knew this and made it a point to address our hearts. He knew that knowing and loving God could lead to pride and arrogance and looking down on others (look at the Pharisees, for goodness sake!).
Jesus does not say that we CANNOT judge but that we SHOULD NOT judge. You and I judge people all the time based on their appearance, intellect, accomplishments, the car they drive …. And we condemn others too, don’t we? The language people use, the movies they watch, the way they lead or don’t lead, how they act in certain situations …. We think, “Well, I would never do that! They must not have a good relationship with God/a strong marriage/a handle on their finances/a love for Jesus like I love Him….” fill in the blank. We are a judgey, condemny people.
Jesus has some interesting and conviction things to say to us:
First, instead of judging and condemning, Jesus says we should be forgiving and generous towards others. Forgiveness and generosity are ways to fight our judgmental and condemning attitudes. Jesus is telling us to get dirty and to get involved. It is easy to judge and condemn FROM A DISTANCE, but in order to forgive, I must be close. I must be involved. In order to be generous, I need to know the situation and the need. I need details. I must value their need over my love of money, and this means relationship.
Second, Jesus is telling us to love instead of hate. “Love your neighbor as yourself.” Jesus is simply rephrasing an ancient commandment from God. If I loved my neighbor, I wouldn’t be judging and condemning them, would I?
Third, the way you and I treat our neighbors is cyclical. How I love my neighbors is how my neighbors will love me. If I judge and condemn, I will be judged and condemned. If I forgive and give, I will be forgiven and given to. Jesus knows that we are a judgmental people and that you and I like to feel better about ourselves by comparing our strengths to others’ weaknesses. I judge myself on my intentions and I judge you on your actions.
What if others judge me the same way I judge them?
What would they see in me?
Personally, I think if others judge me the way I judge them, they would look at me and see someone quick to anger and impatience, prideful, someone who thinks he knows how to do everything better than others. I’m selfish. When I judge, I will be judged in the same way.
Then He says something amazing – Whenever I am generous, it will be given back to me in full, with room for more. Do you and I pray for a heart like this? A generous heart that is anxious to give, because it knows that God will provide and bless and give back even more? So the question is – Do I want to be given to and forgiven? Then I should give and forgive. How amazing is that?
WHAT IF WE WERE A GIVING, FORGIVING PEOPLE? What if love, generosity, and forgiveness were the dominant qualities in our lives? We would look a lot more like Jesus. You and I would be much more secure in our faith and confident in God’s provision and grace. Churches would be the most effective institution for spiritual and social this world has ever seen, and those outside the church would be looking in in wonder at how amazing the Body of Christ is. All I have to give is Jesus. The only way I can forgive is because of Jesus. The world would receive the love and freedom of the Gospel. And the Gospel is transformational.
Jesus goes on to ask a very exposing question –
How is it possible that you and I see sin so clearly and easily in others, but fail to see the same sins in our own lives?
Jesus is ruthless here. Why are you and I so willing to “help” others with their sins and not address our own sins?
Honestly, it’s because my heart is deceitful, and so is yours. I lie to myself, cover up, ignore, diminish, and downplay my sin. I do not think God’s Word and Law apply to me. I’m the exception. I’m special. My intentions were good even if my execution was awful.
Stop looking at yourself through your best intentions, and ask yourself this: How do I view, judge, condemn, forgive, and give to others? That is the metric to judge yourself. See yourself through others’ eyes. It’s a much clearer picture of reality.
Lord, help me to see other’s strengths first, and give me eyes to see my weaknesses. Help me to be forgiving and giving. Let the Gospel pour from my lips like a river. Cause and convict me to address the specks and logs in my eyes first, then help and love others after. Show me how and why I judge others, and allow me first to see myself as you see me, God. Let me be convicted, horrified, and repentant of my sin, and draw me close to Jesus. Let me see and love with Christ’s love.