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“Of every tree of the garden you may freely eat; but of the tree of the knowledge of good and evil you shall not eat” Genesis 2:15
“Judge not, that you be not judged. For with the judgement you fudge, you will be judged…” Matthew 7:1,2
You are right! However, you are wrong! You, I agree with so I will follow you! You, I disagree with so I will reject you! You are going to heaven for what you do! You are going to hell for what you do! These are all judgements.
Judgements, oh how we judge. It seems to me that the fact that we do judge, plus and because we judge so poorly, it is our fallen flaw. That is to say, that we judge is at the heart of virtually all our ills, problems and sins.
Why is it such a problem? First understand the process of it. Regardless of the circumstances, to make a judgement is to believe and declare that I have the knowledge, the wisdom, the foresight to do so. In a way, when I make a judgement, especially about someone else, I am placing myself above them at least within the confines of the subject of my judgement. I’m saying, whether it is positive or negative, that I have the greater insight and stature to declare, to judge, to proclaim a rightness or wrongness of some act, word, thought or perspective. Not only is there an air of my superiority in my judgement but then so often I go onto act or behave based upon my judgement. I may take offense at you, or shun you, attempt to correct you or change you to what I judge to be the right or correct thing. I might join you, support you, defend you, fight for you against all others who might judge you differently.
Okay, I’m still not clear; where’s the big problem. The problem is we judge so excruciatingly badly. Our judgements are so often flawed by our own perspective and lack of complete information. Additionally, once we’ve reached our judgement, we hold onto it like a pit-bull with a bone. I so often will defend my judgement to the death; regardless of the wisdom stacked against it.
Let’s take some biblical examples. Remember the woman who they brought to Jesus for judgement caught in the very act of adultery. They wanted to stone her. This was straight from the bible, straight from Leviticus. Hmmm, well, not quite. You see in Leviticus it states that both the man and the woman should be put to death. So, because you can’t commit adultery unless there were two people; where was the man? Why wasn’t he brought out to be stoned? Also remember, Jesus understood their hearts. They brought the woman out to test Jesus, to hopefully find something to charge Him with or at the very least drive a wedge between Him and the people. One does not get the sense that if Jesus had not been there, they would not have drug this woman out to stone her. Very much a flawed judgement situation. The disciples were not immune to misjudgment. When a village did not receive Jesus as He was heading to Jerusalem, James and John, remember they were a part of Jesus’ inner circle, judged that it would be correct to call fire down and destroy the village. Jesus rebuked them for their harsh judgement. When, after speaking with the rich man, Jesus declared how difficult it was for a rich man to enter heaven, the disciples were astonished that rich people had troubles getting into heaven. In their judgement, if anyone should be able to get in it would be the rich. And of course not to leave out, the judgement of the human Jewish leadership, judging and condemning Jesus based upon their own understanding of scripture and validity of Jesus’ teaching.
Additionally (heavy sigh) today, how often we judge! What party are you from? What race, gender, nationality, religion….(fill in the blank) are you? Sadly even in the Christian world, what denomination are you, or do you dance, drink, how often do you go to church, how much do you give; all these things are judgements that we make. Seemingly we are getting ever more stubborn, more intransigent, more self righteous in our judgements. Plus then we behave on the basis of our judgements; we shun some, we insult others, we hold grudges against others, we chase after some we shouldn’t; all because we are willing to judge and then believe in our judgements as the ultimate truth.
Judgement is a flaw that we pass down from generation to generation. It is our fallen flaw. It keeps us from seeing ourselves equal to all the rest of our Heavenly Father’s creation. Remember the first judgement that Adam and Eve made after gaining the knowledge that they could judge good and evil; they hid from God. So our judging often puts us at odds and keeps us away from the relationship that God wants us to have with Him and with each other.
Understand this, if we can keep from judging, how fuller, more blessed our life can be! To the extent I can forestall judgement, I can truly try to understand the different perspectives around me. I can truly be humble and see that I am equal to all of God’s creation. I can be curious to learn about others and how they have come to the thoughts that they have, not necessarily wanting to adopt those thoughts, but at least gaining an understanding for the basis upon which those thoughts originate.
But we are fallen, we do judge, so what are we to do? First, we should pray. Pray to the Holy Spirit to keep us from the temptation of and give us the power over the desire to judge. Second, to be repentant to not only the Lord but to one another for the judgements that we make truly asking for forgiveness. We need to really delve into God’s word to glean the greatest wisdom that we can. Finally, we must try to understand and live the truth that judgement rests with One Person, One Entity and that is Jesus Christ. Remember what He declared; that His (and through Him, Our) Heavenly Father, had granted Jesus Christ the power and the right to judge the earth. Yet instead of judging the earth and condemning it; Jesus instead decided to die for it, to redeem it. If Jesus Christ won’t judge the world; what right do we have to attempt to judge it.
Our Most Gracious Heavenly Father; we confess that we are a people of judgement. We judge each other and sadly, we even attempt at times to judge You. We also confess that are judgements are faulty and evil and lead to distress and destruction. Please forgive and restore us, Dear Father, pouring out Your Spirit of love, that we would be more about forgiveness than judgement, charity than repayment and mostly about unconditional love. As in Your Perfect Plan, You sent Your Son, Jesus Christ, not to judge us but to save us, fill us with love for one another so that we will also forsake judgement of our fellow person and choose forgiveness and love instead. That in abiding in and sharing the Grace of Christ, we would live lives of praise to Your Most Holy Name we pray in the name of Jesus Christ. Amen