Do you find that it is easier to be more critical of someone else’s shortcomings rather than your own? Do you notice how they act differently and wonder why can’t they be more like you? Maybe you regard their sin as greater than your own?
Judging others is a trap that is easy to fall into, but we are warned against it. In Luke 6, we’re told that the pharisees were critical of Jesus and his disciples because they were picking grain on the Sabbath. This was against the legalistic rules they had set up. But Jesus points out that He himself is the Lord of the Sabbath and the purpose of the day is to honor God not follow a set of legalistic rules. He reminds us that we need to keep our focus on God, not man’s rulings.
It’s easy to get those turned around, isn’t it? Every time elections come around it seems we turn our focus to the economy rather than the moral direction of our nation. We look to what will satisfy our earthly desires. We seek “happiness” as our highest goal, not faithfulness. We long for the approval of others more than we seek the approval of God. We easily get things turned around. But Jesus reminds us that blessed are those who find satisfaction in God regardless of their circumstances, or even the circumstances of our nation.
We easily regard those who disagree with us as our enemies. Whether they are or aren’t, Jesus commands us to “Love your enemies; do good to those who hate you. Be merciful just as your Father is merciful. Do not judge and you will not be judged. Do not condemn and you will not be condemned. Forgive and you will be forgiven.” (Luke 6:27,36-37)
It’s hard, isn’t it? How can we obey this difficult command? How do we stand up for truth without judging others? Perhaps we start with an “eye exam”. You know if you have a foreign object in your eye you will not see properly. Jesus says, “Why do you look at the speck of sawdust in your brother’s eye and pay no attention to the plank in your own eye?” (Luke 6:41) In other words, why are we so focused on judging other’s sins when confronted with our own (different) sins? We like to categorize sins, ranking them from not so bad to really bad. But God puts them all in the same category. Sexual immorality, impure thoughts, hatred, arguing, jealousy, greed, selfish ambition, envy. They’re all contrary to the Spirit and “those who live like this will not inherit the kingdom of God.” (Galatians 5:21) Our role is to submit to the Spirit of God so He can transform our own selfish, greedy, jealous, and impure nature to one that is marked by his love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, gentleness, faithfulness, and self control.
This isn’t to say that because all sin is sin we should think it’s all okay. Sin is an abomination to God because it separates us from him. It keeps us from accessing the fullness of his love and grace and from inheriting his promises. But it’s not for us to judge others. That’s God’s job. Our job is to love, do good, be merciful, and forgive.
We have a choice. We can focus our energies on hating the path the world is going while judging others in our path. . . OR we can hate the sin (of others and our own) and respond with the love that Jesus has shown us… the very love he demonstrated to us while we were still sinners! (Romans 5:8)
It all begins with a simple eye exam: “Am I looking at circumstances and others through my eyes or through the eyes of Jesus?” Ask God to look through his eyes and “a good measure, pressed down, shaken together and running over will be poured into your lap.” (Luke 6:38)