judgment

Challenging the Habit of Judgment

Jesus said, “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” (Matt 7:2).

In our world where we encounter a nearly constant stream of judgments on social media or the news, this teaching stands out as remarkable. Jesus says that we can either play the judgment game or the grace game. If you don’t want to be judged, don’t judge others. Extend to them the same gracious love that God has extended to you. But if you insist on playing the judgment game, then know that the judgment you give is the judgment you’ll get.

This command of Jesus stands out even more when we read,

Why do you look at the speck of sawdust in someone else’s eye and pay no attention to the plank in your own eye? How can you say, ‘Let me take the speck out of your eye,’ when all the time there is a plank in your own eye’ (Matt 7:3-4).

It’s important to note that the people Jesus was talking to did not have greater sins than others. In fact, by the standards of the day, those people would have been considered above average morally. Jesus was pointing out that they needed to be free from the addiction to (that is getting life from) judging others.

He did this by instructing them to think in the opposite way about people, one that revolts against the standards of their day … and ours.

To judge another person is to ascribe worth to yourself at the expense of others. This minimizes your sins and faults, while maximizing the sins and faults of others. If you’ve ever said to yourself, “At least, I’m not as bad as that person (or group)” then you were likely feeding off the idol of judgment.

Jesus proclaimed that we are to regard our own sin as plank-sized sins while regarding other people’s sins as speck-sized sins. It can be especially challenging in our world where the faults and sins of public figures are constantly scrutinized in the media, but whatever sins we think we see in another, we are to consider our own sin as worse.

With the apostle Paul, we are to see ourselves as “the worst of sinners” (1 Timothy 1:15-16). When you let go of your need to judge others as a way of getting life and worth, you are freed to get your life from God so that you can love others as Jesus loved. Nothing is more central to the Kingdom than agreeing with God about every person’s unsurpassable worth and reflecting this in how we act toward them. Nothing is more important than living in Christlike love for all people at all times.

—Adapted from The Myth of a Christian Religion, pages 51-55

Photo credit: mac_ivan via Visualhunt / CC BY

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