Reading Matthew 7 recently, I couldn’t get past verses 1-5. I spent some time reflecting on these strong words from Jesus about our attitudes toward others. When we judge someone and condemn them because they don’t do things like we think they should or they fail to meet the self-made standards we’ve set up – we start playing God. Whether we verbalize it or not, this means we perceive ourselves as superior to them, their character, heart and motives.
This can apply to people (or a group of people) in general, or it can be directed toward someone who offends us. When someone offends us and we refuse to grant them mercy, or love them enough to follow Jesus admonition in Matthew 18:15, we commit our own offense. When we refuse to ask for an explanation or try to get all the facts (Prov. 18:17), and show a lack of genuine love by refusing to give the other person(s) a chance to ask forgiveness (if they did something wrong), we demonstrate pride by assuming we are completely right in our thoughts, actions and motives. In other words, we wrongly (and sinfully) suggest we have knowledge of and fully understand all the facts, circumstances including the full back-story, and the motives of the person(s) we judge. The essence of sin is refusing to love like Jesus does, and judging others like this smacks of a lack of genuine love.
It’s humbling and embarrassing to admit, but the reason these words impacted me the way they did as I read & reflected upon them is because I’ve been guilty of this hypocritical behavior and violating these words of Jesus. I’ve also known the hurt of being on the receiving end of such judgments.
Maybe these things apply to you too. What’s the wise thing to do? Do your best to make things right in relationships by asking for forgiveness when you’ve had a judgmental attitude or wronged someone, and offer forgiveness when you’ve been judged or wronged regardless of the response of others involved.