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On Judging Others


SERMONN.jpg Pete Cornell

Jesus never anticipated that we, living in community, would be perfect. Which begs the question, “How do we deal with each other’s fallenness?” The seventh chapter of Matthew’s gospel begins with Jesus’ harshest words:

“Do not judge, or you too will be judged. For in the same way you judge others, you will be judged, and with the measure you use, it will be measured to you” (Matthew 7:1-2, NIV).

Jesus words here are plain spoken. Literally, they read, “Do not make a practice or habit of judging others.” Before we get into what that means, let’s be clear on what He does not mean. Jesus is not, as Tolstoy suggested, recommending that we eliminate the legal system and abolish formal government justice systems. Neither is he suggesting that we live our lives turning blind eyes and deaf ears to the world around us. His command is not a prohibition against having discernment or discretion (cf. Matthews 7:15-20; 10:11-15; 16:6-12; and 18:17-18).

Jesus’ condemnation is addressed to those who evaluate the motives and character of others, casting a verdict based on your own evaluation of him or her. Judgmental people evaluate others (note the word “measure”) to see if they meet a particular benchmark. These self appointed persons assume responsibility to fix others, and even seem to enjoy the human failings of others.

There are three things that God has not delegated to his children: condemnation, vengeance, and judgment. So if you’re not on the jury, perhaps its time to stop trying to reach a verdict. We are not permitted to judge, not because we fail but because we are fallen. We are disqualified to serve in the role of judge.

Matthew 7:2 has always been one of the hardest words of Jesus for me to hear. He clearly stated that the way we measure others is the way God will measure us. I don’t know about you, but when I stand before God someday I’m going to be seeking mercy and grace, like anyone would. The thought that Jesus would judge me as harshly as I judge others is frightening.

So if you are prone to the practice of judging others, stop it. Just quit. Its not worth it, and its not your responsibility.

Categories : Sermon on the Mount

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