Thursday

“Do not judge, so that you may not be judged. For with the judgement you make you will be judged.” (vv. 1-2)

Matthew 7:1-6 Thursday 18 August 2016

Psalm: Psalm 136:1-9


Background

This is one of the few places in the Gospels where we perhapsget a glimpse of Jesus' background in the home of a carpenter. Heuses a deliberately ridiculous exaggeration to make his point.Imagine, he seems to say, you are in a carpenter's workshop. Youstart to complain that your neighbour has a speck of sawdust intheir eye, without noticing that you have a whole plank stickingout of your own! We may laugh, but the point gets home. Wegenerally find it much easier to spot what is wrong with otherpeople than what is amiss in our own behaviour. So Jesus reminds usthat judgement is reciprocal. If we assume the right to judgeothers (and this could be in a whole range of situations frominformal conversation to legal judgements) then we should not besurprised if the spotlight is turned on our own life and our faultsand failings are revealed and punished.  

The reputation of Christians and of the Church has often - withgood reason - been the exact opposite of Jesus' teaching in theseverses. They have been associated with judging and condemningacross a whole range of human behaviour. Today, the tables areturned and Churches often find themselves judged and condemned forexamples of abuse and for a failure to be inclusive.

The reader of Matthew's Gospel will know that, towards the endof the story, Jesus himself - though completely innocent - isjudged and condemned by those who represented violence andself-interest. He became (to quote the theologian, Karl Barth) "thejudge judged in our place".

And then at the end of the passage is a reminder that when Jesusasks us not to be judgemental he doesn't mean that we forget anysense of discrimination. We still use the saying 'do not throw yourpearls before swine' as a proverb - though perhaps not in the wayJesus intended. He seems to be telling us to be careful about theway we use God's gifts and to make sure we don't abuse them orencourage others to do so.


To Ponder

  • Think of those you tend to judge. How could you develop a moreconstructive attitude towards them?
  • What might a harsh critic find to judge in your life? How wouldyou hope to be treated by those who found you out? 
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