February 26th, 2013: The Twelfth Day of Lent

February 26, 2013 § Leave a comment

“For you will be treated as you treat others. The standard you use in judging is the standard by which you will be judged.”

~Matthew 7.2~

Christ continues his teaching on judging by pointing out that just as we judge others, so we will be judged. It is important to note something at this point: Christ does not expect us to turn a blind eye to evil, or to refrain from making assessments and coming to decisions. As Dr. James Shelton says, “He [Christ] expects value judgments to be made, right and wrong to be identified, and worthy and unworthy to be discerned…What Jesus does forbid in this passage is faultfinding, condemnation, and the spirit of hypocrisy.” (LitSNTC, pg. 171)

Whew. But how can we separate the two? It’s one thing to make a clear distinction in a post like this, but we all find that the line to be much more blurred in our daily experience. We constantly, unconsciously, make value judgments; do we constantly, unconsciously, condemn people as well?

We need to be reminded that we are in no place to condemn or judge in a critical sense, though we may want to be. The implication of this verse is that the standard we judge others by will be applied to us by God himself – and that thought should scare us straight!

However, Christ does expect us to firmly and decisively oppose evil and injustice in the world – and for that, we do need to exercise Spirit-led judgment and discernment. Rather than being constantly, unconsciously judgmental, we need to be constantly, consciously, submitting our thoughts and judgments to God in prayer. We can trust the Holy Spirit to let us know the nature of our thoughts.

The phrase “constantly and consciously” may seem like a lot, but we can start to build a habit. As with all habits, as we work to engrain it, it will become more natural. We can trust Christ to help us in this effort as well, so long as we are willing and open to his correction and direction.

Lord Christ, I repent of my judgmental heart. Send your Holy Spirit to convict me of improper judgments, and to enable me to make proper judgments. Help me to submit my thoughts and decisions to you – help me to leave behind criticism and condemnation. Amen. 

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