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Matthew 7: 1 – 2

Do not judge lest you be judged. For in the way you judge you will be judged; and by your standard of measure, it will be measured to you.

This is Jesus speaking. One might think that he could have stopped with “Do not judge.” Shouldn’t that end the conversation? And yet we really have a pervasive problem in our society and in our church body with judgment and condemnation. As we address this question of judgment we need first understand that Jesus was speaking to us as believers. Secondly, he was not protecting the people that we judge. This passage, this speech was meant to protect us.

We must understand the grace of God and the work of Jesus in order to conceptualize the meaning in today’s Biblical passage. God has endeavored throughout the time of humanity to draw us into a close relationship with Himself. When we blew it, He sent Jesus to cover our mistakes so that we could be again reconciled to Him in that devoted, personal relationship. So, it is God’s grace and Jesus’ death and resurrection that have placed us back in a place where our sin no longer separates us from God. You see, Jesus’ victory has removed us from judgment. He bore our sin right to the pit of hell so that we would not have that sin taint on us any longer. He removed the judgment that was upon us because of our iniquities. But, when you judge others you take yourself out of that grace and put yourself back under judgment. Okay, I know that is a stupid thing to do but, of course, we don’t mean to condemn ourselves. So why do we do it?

One might think that we judge others out of a sense of arrogance. Well, that may be true to an extent but the greater reason seems to be that we judge others when our soul condemns us. In other words, it seems that our critical assessment of others springs from a failure within ourselves. We see our own inadequacies but they are so daunting and embarrassing that we hide from the truth. As we shy away from the truth about ourselves we manifest that disappointment in ourselves as judgment of others. We become very critical. If you will notice, people who have a lot of unresolved personal issues tend to be critical of everyone around them. They are never satisfied with the sermon on Sunday, the choir was off pitch, the servers took too long, etc. It becomes all about everyone satisfying them because they are so dissatisfied with themselves.

But, shall we also look at ourselves. Let me be the first to say that I have been too judgmental. It seems so clear at times, “That person is a jerk.” Okay, well maybe he is but that judgment is really self-condemnation and we must allow God to free us from it. Once we are whole then we are able to accept others complete with their warts. We must learn to love the unlovely but I think the only way we can do so is to finally, once and for all, learn to love the most unlovely one of all, the chap in the mirror. We can dress him or her up, fix our hair and put on the best image we know how to create but in the end the scalawag always shows up. Hurting people hurt people. We’ve all heard that but did we know that it applies to our perceptions of others and the judgment that emanates from them?

Sure sometimes we can so easily see the flaws in others but seeing those yet unregenerated areas is not the same as judging that person. Do you ever feel or express that criticism. Are you saying to others negative things about someone else? Are you judging them or their actions as wrong? Most importantly, is this your habit? Do you find that you are often critical? What would your spouse and children say?  

Most of us still retain some of the scars and warts from the world. Hopefully we are all growing in the fullness of God’s grace for us and the wholeness that Jesus purchased for us so please do not condemn yourself if you find that you are critical and judgmental. It just means that you have identified an area where you might want to throw the door open to Jesus’ ministrations. Remember that self-condemnation is really where this all begins. Once you truly love yourself with the love of God, then you will be more accepting of others too. You will no longer need to divert attention from your own failures and short-comings. That anger that is deep within you, that self-revulsion which has been so deeply buried and hidden can finally be exposed and expelled. When you embrace that God absolutely loves you just as you are you will be free to love others. Open your heart, soul, spirit, all that is you to the river of living water which is the Lord Jesus himself. We washes clean. He covers all your short-comings with his perfection so that you can stand in the very presence of God Himself with confidence. If you will learn to love yourself and let God love you, if you will learn to accept yourself and know that you are accepted right now by God, then you can cast off that critical, judgmental nature. You will be able to get along with others and others will be able to get along with you. Look, there is freedom in Christ so let’s get free. Let us walk in the liberty and life that Jesus came to give us. 

One last thing, I understand that you are afraid. If you were not then you would never have sublimated those truths about yourself. It is okay. God is loving, kind and gentle. He wants to help you. He is not trying to punish you. It is you who punishes you. You can spend a life time of misery or a few minutes of honest self-assessment. Sure, sometimes the healing is a little bit painful but it is so miniscule in truth and it is so very short in duration. Why be miserable and make those who love you miserable forever when you can spend a little time with God being honest and healing. Don’t let your epitaph be about your untapped potential. Don’t leave people standing beside your grave grieving over what could have been. That is the saddest thing of all. Live this life God has given you wide open full of the joy of the Lord. Let Him touch you. Allow Him to breathe into you the life He ordained for you. Let Him heal you and let Him love you. Accept Him, His love and yourself. In Jesus’ name, I pray.

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