How far do I want to follow Jesus?
This morning I read Matthew 7:1-2:
Sometimes, I speculate. Speculation is a form of non-understanding and, as such, is usually a waste of time. I've expended a lot of time guessing about the actions of other people, sometimes forming judgments based on my predictions.
This is not about making judgments, but about judgmentalism. We make countless judgments every day. The lights in my room are on. Or, It's going to snow this morning. I judge that those two statements are true. Linda and I are tired of winter. That's true, too. And, If X keeps using heroin, he could die. That's true. All these judgments involving states of affairs can be made with a good heart.
Judgmentalism, however, is about a different heart attitude. A judgmental person is a critic of others. A judgmental person is someone who condemns others.
New Testament scholar R. T. France writes: "Judge (krino) often carries the connotation of "condemn," and it is in that sense that it is used here." (France, The Gospel According to Matthew, p. 142)
"This passage is concerned with the fault-finding, condemnatory attitude which is too often combined with a blindness to one's own failings. The least such an attitude can expect is to be judged with equal harshness by other men. But the passive [tense], as often in Matthew, probably conceals God himself as the agent. Just as he will forgive those who forgive (6:14-15), he will condemn those who condemn." (Ib.)
John Stott writes that Jesus' command "is not a requirement to be blind, but a plea to be generous." (In Leon Morris, The Gospel According to Matthew, p. 165)
Commenting on these verses, Morris writes:
"Jesus' words surely refer to the divine tribunal. To be quick to call others to account is to invite God to call us to account. That judgment of some form is required of his followers is clear from the demand that they cast not what is holy to dogs (Mt. 7:6); what is forbidden is censoriousness, the readiness to find fault." (Ib.)
Craig Keener writes that "Jesus does not oppose offering correction, but only offering correction in the wrong spirit." (Keener, The Gospel of Matthew: A Socio-Rhetorical Commentary, p. 240)
I agree that judging others while being blind to my own faults is toxic.
I agree that condemning others is not my responsibility.
I agree that judging without understanding is foolish, bringing pain not only to others but to myself as well.
"But Jesus demands more than agreement from disciples: he demands obedience." (Keener, Ib., p. 241)