Don’t judge really means don’t judge

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There is a well known passage in Matthew 7 where Jesus tells people (including you and me) not to judge others.  This is an issue as old as time itself.  We all struggle with it.  Sometimes it comes out in subtle ways and sometimes in more obvious ones but it's always there lurking in the shadows ready to pounce on some unsuspecting victim who has failed to live up to our high ideals.  It makes us feel better when we can look down our noses at some poor sap who doesn't have it all together like we do (ha ha) and point out their shortcomings.

It's funny but as I've studied this "DON'T JUDGE" passage I've looked at what others have written/said about it and I've been both amused and disturbed to find that most (if not all) of them spend the majority of their time explaining to their listeners how "don't judge" doesn't really mean "don't judge".  They say in effect, "well, of course we have to judge – we have to be able to see who's 'in' and who's 'out' don't we?"  They imply, "If we don't condemn the 'sinners' for sinning how will they ever know that they are sinners?"  

I think that's why Jesus tells us to worry about this massive 2"x4" of shortcomings in our own eye rather than pointing out the tiny piece of sawdust in our friend's eye. He is saying, "Have you ever had a piece of sawdust in your eye?  My guess is you didn't need someone else to tell you it was in there."   People know when there's junk in their lives.

When reading this I have this crazy thought that maybe, just maybe Jesus meant what He said when He told us not to judge others.  Maybe He meant we should give each other a break and to give the people around us the benefit of the doubt.  Maybe we should give them the grace and the space to allow God to do His work in their lives and not try to rush it or control it.  Why not?  Because in John 16 Jesus said it was the Holy Spirit's job to convict people of their sin – to my knowledge NOWHERE in the Bible am I told that it is my job.  The job you and I have been given is that we are to love God and love people.  That's it.

People know when there's junk in their lives.  They don't need us to point it out for them.  And God is working it out with them.  This is who He is – a God of healing, forgiveness and restoration.  So, instead of judging them and getting in the way of God's work, let's be for them the the safe community of friends and supporters they need in order to respond to God's love and restoration and hope!  This is the life of Jesus follower.

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