Wednesday, December 9, 2009

Judgment

Judge not, that ye be not judged. For with what judgment ye judge, ye shall be judged: and with what measure ye mete, it shall be measured to you again. And why beholdest thou the mote that is in thy brother's eye, but considerest not the beam that is in thine own eye? Or how wilt thou say to thy brother, Let me pull out the mote out of thine eye; and, behold, a beam is in thine own eye? Thou hypocrite, first cast out the beam out of thine own eye; and then shalt thou see clearly to cast out the mote out of thy brother's eye. (Matthew 7:1-5)
In Jesus' life, one day the Pharisees and scribes brought before him a women accused of adultery. Now, notice first of all that this was people from the church, the leaders and workers in the temple! And then notice Jesus' response.

The scripture says He "wrote on the ground, as though he heard them not." (John 8:6) He didn't respond at all. I can imagine they were more than a little nonplussed. Jesus remained crouched, with his finger writing in the sand, and didn't say a word.

Frustrated, the accusers, the Pharisees and scribes, wouldn't let Him alone. Verse 7 says "they continued to ask." Finally, Jesus utters one simple phrase.
He that is without sin among you, let him first cast a stone at her. (John 8:7)
He then stoops back down and continues to write in the sand.

Let's read a scripture in the book of Luke.
Be ye therefore merciful, as your Father also is merciful. Judge not, and ye shall not be judged: condemn not, and ye shall not be condemned: forgive, and ye shall be forgiven: (Luke 6:36-37)
In the following verse in Luke 6, we read the familiar words, "Give, and it shall be given unto you..." We have over the years used this verse in the positive, and it should be used that way, to show God's overflowing financial goodness in our lives. But it follows on the thoughts in verses 36 and 37. If you "give" judgment, you will reap judgment. If you "give" mercy, you will reap mercy.

The verses from Matthew 7 give a similar refrain. There we are told to first know what "mote" is in our own eye. What right have we to give judgment against another when we have not judged our own behavior? What does how we are acting look like to others?

Every parent at some point cautions their child against doing things that make him or her "look bad." The Bible calls this the "appearance of evil" and we are told to "abstain" from it. (1 Thess. 5:22) And James 5:6 tells us with our words we can defile, or pollute, or entire body. As Jesus stooped there, seemingly innocuous to what was going on around Him, it's not that He didn't hear the accusations against the woman. No, it was that He refused to participate in the judgment of the scribes and Pharisees. He would not "defile" Himself by speaking words.

Ask yourself this, Had He stood up and begun to accuse her, as all the others were doing, what would we think of Him today? I think all His words on forgiveness would fall flat in our ears. Jesus response was first, to not condemn the woman and second, to offer her mercy. He set for us an example. He refused to cast judgment.

If you read through the Gospels, you would see He consistently acted this way. He did not judge Zacchaeus, but ate at his house. He did not pass judgment on the woman who poured perfume on His feet. (Luke 19:5 ; Luke 7:44) When brought before Pilate, He didn't speak to defend himself. (Matthew 27:14) And as He hung on the cross, He forgave all those who accused him. (Luke 23:24)
For we have not an high priest which cannot be touched with the feeling of our infirmities; but was in all points tempted like as we are, yet without sin. (Hebrews 4:15)
This thought is a much greater thing than just asking forgiveness after the fact - in other words, using forgiveness as an excuse for bad behavior. True forgiveness offers mercy instead of judgment. And in offering mercy, we will reap mercy. What we give we will receive. I like that!

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Suzanne Williams
Suzanne Williams Photography
Florida, USA

Suzanne Williams is a native Floridian, wife, and mother, with a penchant for spelling anything, who happens to love photography.

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