Sitting with the Shepherd
"Judge not, that you be not judged. For with what judgment you judge, you will be judged; and with the measure you use, it will be measured back to you. And why do you look at the speck in your brother's eye, but do not consider the plank in your own eye? (Matthew 7:1-3 NKJV)
Judging is a necessary part of life. To judge literally means to decide or distinguish, so there are times when we will be called to judge. What Jesus is saying here is not to condemn another because in doing so we will receive condemnation from them in return and nothing good will come of our efforts.
The Pharisees were being judged here by Jesus for their self-righteous, critical attitude toward those whom they were called to lead. It is imperative for us to understand as believers, that before we became reconciled to God through Christ, He was our Judge. After new birth He became our Savior. We were guilty of heinous crimes against God and declared guilty of numerous offences that were deserving of death and eternal separation from God in hell. If God had not judged us mercifully in our condemned condition there would have been no hope for us. But He didn't. He showed mercy. And because He showed mercy in such great measure, He is asking us to do likewise to those who have offended us.
The measure of any given offense is not measured by only the nature of the offense itself, but by the identity of the one who the offense was committed against. To offend a total stranger is one thing, but to offend one who loves us and has done much for us is another. King David said "Against You, You only, have I sinned," which means our sin is primarily against a Holy and Righteous God. That being the case our sin is far more grievous than any sin committed against us. That is the reason we have a plank in our eye and the one who offended us only has a speck in theirs.
When I approach another person who has offended me with this mindset my approach will be less indignant and more palatable for them. A pearl is a valuable gem, but to a swine it is totally worthless because they can't digest it. Criticism given in a way that can be received will be useful to facilitate change. The goal of confrontation must always be reconciliation in order to glorify God.
Now all things are of God, who has reconciled us to Himself through Jesus Christ, and has given us the ministry of reconciliation, that is, that God was in Christ reconciling the world to Himself, not imputing their trespasses to them, and has committed to us the word of reconciliation. Now then, we are ambassadors for Christ, as though God were pleading through us: we implore you on Christ's behalf, be reconciled to God. For He made Him who knew no sin to be sin for us, that we might become the righteousness of God in Him. (2 Corinthians 5:18-21 NKJV)
Questions for Meditation or Discussion
1. In what aspects of life are you called to distinguish or judge the actions of another?
2. What example did God set in handling our numerous offences committed against Him?
3. How can cultivate a God honoring attitude in confronting someone who has offended us?
My Father in Heaven, my God thank You for the mercy You showed me in sending Your Son Jesus Christ to die on the cross to pay the penalty for my sins. I confess that my sins against You, a Righteous and Holy God far outweigh any offense committed against me by another human being. May I always judge those who offend me with that in mind. Amen