Tuesday, December 16, 2014

Don’t judge? What is the alternative?


When telemarketers call, I’m determined to be polite. However, some of them have trouble taking ‘no’ for an answer and begin pressure techniques. If I am critical about these people being pushy, I hear, “Now don’t judge.”

“Don’t judge” is a quote from Jesus Christ and His Sermon on the Mount. He said, “Judge not, that you be not judged. For with the judgment you pronounce you will be judged, and with the measure you use it will be measured to you. Why do you see the speck that is in your brother’s eye, but do not notice the log that is in your own eye? Or how can you say to your brother, ‘Let me take the speck out of your eye,’ when there is the log in your own eye? You hypocrite, first take the log out of your own eye, and then you will see clearly to take the speck out of your brother’s eye.” (Matthew 7:1–5)

If someone says, “Don’t judge” in my earshot, I usually say nothing, but every time I read this passage, I wish people who say it would read what Jesus said again, and pay close attention.

Judge not – why? So I will not be judged. What’s wrong with being judged? Well, according to Jesus, the judgment I pronounce will be the same kind of judgment I will receive, and in the same measure. That is, if I am being picky, then I will get ‘picky’ back. If I am being harsh, then I will get harsh back. If I am being truthful, I will get truthful back.

For most of my life, I’ve not handled ‘judgment’ very well. If someone criticizes me, I’m usually defensive or hand them some form of denial. Yet there is something worse . . . being flattered, being treated as if I am never wrong, being given a run-around when I ask for feedback. Some people need, even want, judgment, at least the honest and constructive kind, not the kind that is hurtful and mean.

Jesus also asks the question: Why do you see the speck that is in your brother’s eye, but do not notice the log that is in your own eye? This is a clue about the kind of judgment He is telling me not to offer, the kind that tries to accuse others of the same thing that I am also guilty of, and probably to a greater degree.

Oh, it is easy to do. If I were calling people as a telemarketer and pushing their patience to the limit, I would have no right speaking harshly to or about those who do the same thing. It would be as Jesus adds: Or how can you say to your brother, ‘Let me take the speck out of your eye,’ when there is the log in your own eye?

But His next line is even more important. He says, You hypocrite, first take the log out of your own eye, and then you will see clearly to take the speck out of your brother’s eye.
First, to be guilty of something and judge others for the same thing is hypocrisy, a big no-no. BUT, if I have done that something in the past, taken it to Jesus in confession and repentance, and stopped doing it, I am in a totally different position — instead of being a hypocrite, I am a potential healer.

Those who have conquered a sin, by grace through faith, know all about that particular trap. Any sin that I have overcome has already demonstrated its dark side in my life. I know the challenges of overcoming it, even the initial challenge of recognizing that I had the problem in the first place.

I also know the solution, or rather know the One who can make that solution a reality. I am in a perfect position to ‘judge’ someone because I can see clearly, and by the grace of God, can be of some help to that person.

Now I’m wondering two things. The first is this: Is saying “don’t judge” a cop-out for not getting involved in the lives of those who have a speck in their eye?

The second is this: If I’m not being a pushy person myself, then how can I help a telemarketer who is?




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