“For with what judgment ye judge, ye shall be judged; and with what measure ye mete, it shall be measured to you again.”
Yikes… the words found in Matthew 7:2 that most recently were highlighted to me by Oswald Chambers on June 22 of his daily devotional ‘My Utmost for His Highest’ were a good yet alarming reminder that the measure I use to judge someone else will be the same degree by which God will judge my actions. He says “… the one who criticizes another is guilty of the very same thing. God looks not only at the act, He looks at the possibility.” That scares me enough to not want to say or think another thing of anyone else…ever! But, unfortunately, I know I will, or at least be tempted to do so.
This reminder by Chambers is also coming on the heels of a study I am doing on Jonah. Jonah was called by God to go to Ninevah to tell those people to repent of their ways and turn to God. Jonah had it on good authority that the Ninevites would repent and God would certainly show them grace and spare them. And this is where I judged Jonah in the past…he didn’t want to go to Ninevah because he was a bit fearful of them and he didn’t want these evil people to receive God’s grace. First of all Jonah…you’re a prophet; that’s what you do. You shouldn’t be concerned about what people think or do to you. Secondly, how selfish are you for not wanting these lost people to be spared? Honestly, I think you need to sit down and think long and hard about the job responsibilities of a prophet!
Through my study I’ve since learned however that the Assyrians, of which Ninevah was one of the main provinces, had treated Jonah’s people, the Israelites, horribly. The Assyrians inflicted physical and psychological terror on Israel, as well as other nations. It could have very well been that they harmed, if not killed, some of whom Jonah was close to, maybe even his own family. This puts a little different spin on things…by human standards one could say Jonah was justified in not wanting to help these people. The Ninevites caused Jonah deep, personal pain. He didn’t want mercy shown to them because they didn’t show mercy to his people. Are Jonah’s actions justifiable? No, but it does humble me as I previously thought poorly of Jonah when I determined he was some pompous, self-righteous Israelite who was taking it upon himself to decide who is or is not eligible for God’s grace. His decision to run away was due to personal loss and pain, not necessarily self-righteousness. He did what I’ve so often done, tried to avenge my own hurt or loss.
Chambers continues by saying “The reason we see hypocrisy and fraud and unreality in others is because they are all in our own hearts.” Many people judge Adam and Eve, but maybe that’s because they know they would have fallen at the same temptation. What about the Israelites when they were at the verge of entering Canaan, they became fearful that they wouldn’t be able to overtake the Canaanites. It’s easy for us to say “Come on! God had just proven Himself with all those incredible miracles and you don’t believe He would have helped you overcome this?!” How often do we throw our heads back and wail, as if all hope is lost when the next challenge is put before us by God, forgetting He has faithfully led us through so many other trials?
We judge sexual predators, we judge the school shooters, we judge the predators’ and shooters’ parents. We judge thieves, abusers, shady politicians, those bound in an addiction. We judge the hoarder, the divorcee, the betrayer, the betrayed, the pregnant teen, and then the teen who is no longer pregnant. We judge all the time! Given the same circumstances that these God-formed masterpieces are living in, you and I might make similar decisions. Who are we to judge?! Instead of judging the decisions or lifestyles of others, we need to thank God for all that He spared us from that others are experiencing. And if sinful choices are involved in those precious lives, we need to remember all the sinful choices we’ve made that are equally as ugly in light of God’s holiness.
Nothing but God’s teaching has prompted this post, and in those time of teaching He is shining light in my life that needs attention. I will say in all humility that yes, I judge and I can be horrible. But I can also say, that those who have been forgiven much love much and that is where God has changed my heart.
“Thank you God for reminding me to focus on my own faults and to love others well. Not overlooking their sins, but truly loving them in spite of them. Keep reminding me not to judge others as I remember the grace that covers my past failures and in the knowledge that no type of sin is out of the realm of possibility. If You judged me like I’ve judged others, I would certainly be in hell. Nothing saves me from that fate but Jesus’ grace and forgiveness. I have done nothing to earn or deserve being saved from hell. I am in Your debt.”