Monday, May 17, 2010
Matthew 7:1-5 "Judge not, that you be not judged.
For with what judgment you judge, you will be judged; and with the measure you use, it will be measured back to you.
And why do you look at the speck in your brother's eye, but do not consider the plank in your own eye?
Or how can you say to your brother, 'Let me remove the speck from your eye'; and look, a plank is in your own eye?
Hypocrite! First remove the plank from your own eye, and then you will see clearly to remove the speck from your brother's eye."
Judging...it is a problem that we have all dealt with in one way or another. Either we become the judge about someone else, or they become the judge of us. Judgment is passed down every day in our courts, in our schools, our towns, our churches and and our neighborhoods...as well as in our own families. You point the finger at me, I point my finger back at you. We criticize our neighbors, friends, pastor, teacher, co-workers...or random people we don't even know on the street, on the news, on the highways.
We label others because we don't like the way they dress, wear their hair, the vehicle they drive, the house they live in, or even where they may have come from. We make unkind remarks about people out on the street carrying signs saying they are homeless, jobless, hungry..."will work for food". We find out that so-and-so was in prison, or had an affair, or a divorce, or lost their job because they made a mistake...and we think that would never happen to us, our family, or our friends. We criticize our politicians, their wives, their children..when we don't even know the truth about them. We are too quick to believe the lies, the gossip, the "news", without giving anyone the benefit of the doubt. We refuse to consider someone fairly for a job, or a promotion, or assistance of any kind because we heard something negative about them or their family, or we fear they may do something to embarrass us or cause others to criticize us for helping them.
Jesus has a lot to say about this kind of judging and lack of love for our neighbors...Matthew chapters 5-6-7 are full of instruction, admonitions, and warnings to us if we do not show love to our fellow man or if we judge others unfairly. But the best response of all is found in Matthew 25:31-46. I will not reprint it all here, but will commend it to your reading...Jesus is telling the people about the judgment in the end times, when God is separating the sheep from the goats.
In verses 35-36 He is telling those on His right hand about the good things they had done..."For I was hungry and you gave Me food; I was thirsty and you gave Me drink; I was a stranger and you took Me in; I was naked and you clothed Me; I was sick and you visited Me; I was in prison and you came to Me." When the righteous people asked Jesus when they had done these things to Him, He responded in verse 40: "Assuredly, I say to you, inasmuch as you did it to the least of these My brethren, you did it to Me."
But then the tables are turned on those on His left hand...He tells them in verses 41-46 that they did NOT do these things for the least of these, and therefore they had not done it for Him...and He told them to "Depart from Me, you cursed, into the everlasting fire prepared for the devil and his angels." He concludes His story by saying in verse 46: "And these will go away into everlasting punishment, but the righteous into eternal life."
Wow! Sure makes me want to think twice before I start judging my neighbor...or before I refuse to help someone less fortunate than I. I know I am guilty of not always doing the right thing for others...I'm in too big of a hurry, or too prejudiced in my thinking about their circumstances. But when others do that against me or members of my family and friends...I get angry. I get self-righteous...I forget that I, too, am guilty of neglecting the needs of others.
Lord, help me to be less judgmental and more caring for my neighbors and others who You bring into my world each day. Help me to not be so quick to see the speck in others' eyes, when I have a log in my own eye. Forgive me, Lord, for my self-righteousness at the expense of others. Thank you for this reminder tonight. May it have a lasting impact on my heart. Amen.