Loving Father, You are all light. Shine that light into the dark places of my heart, and speak to me.
Read Matthew 7:1-12
Scripture taken from the THE HOLY BIBLE, NEW INTERNATIONAL VERSION, NIV Copyright © 1973, 1978, 1984, 2011 by Biblica, Inc.® Used by permission. All rights reserved worldwide.
Paul wrote to the Corinthians about preparing to celebrate the Lord’s Supper. “Examine yourselves” (1 Cor. 11:28) was his clear advice. We are so much more comfortable examining others!
These words are razor-sharp. Fallen human beings that we are, we are always more prone to seeing what’s wrong in someone else than in ourselves. Jesus is not saying that we ought not to use discernment (we ought), or that we shouldn’t have a judicial system (we should). He is speaking about our tendency to find fault in others. Most of the time we don’t voice our criticism, but simply think to ourselves, “They shouldn’t be saying/doing that.” I write this conscious of a certain irony. As I was reflecting on our tendency to be judgmental, various occasions came to mind when someone else had acted in this way. And I, of course, had thought to myself that they ought not to be so judgmental!
Take a few moments to reflect on how you have been guilty of judging others. Is it to make you feel better (pride), or to tear down someone who is highly thought of by others (jealousy), or to shore up the shibboleths of your own Christian group (exclusivism)? Or what? Do we want everyone else to be like us? When we think disparagingly about what someone else has done, there are often factors in that person’s experience that we know nothing about. And who of us has not listened to someone who has bent our ear with some troubling story of their spouse’s/children’s/neighbor’s behavior? Before we nod in assent it is good to remember that we know only one side of the story.
Jesus had a lot to say about this issue. Think about the Pharisee and the tax collector (Luke 18:9-14), the Beatitudes (Matt. 5:7), and the Lord’s Prayer (Matt. 6:12-15). Think about the mercy you have received from God. Those who are most conscious of how much they have been forgiven will be the last to judge others.
Read again the second paragraph in the Think Further commentary. Any portion hit home? Confess to God as needed and resolve to deal with any issues raised.
Loving Father, thank You for the immense grace You have extended to me. Help me to respond by sharing this kind of love with everyone I meet.