Matthew 7:1,2 (NKJV)
“Judge not, that you be not judged. 2 For with what judgment you judge, you will be judged; and with the measure you use, it will be measured back to you.
When I first studied this scripture I was intrigued by the notes in my Bible which say:
This restriction doesn’t mean that a disciple never judges. After all, some kind of judgement is required in order to obey the command in verse 6. The point of this verse is that a Christian should not have a spirit of carping criticism and fault-finding. Every judgement becomes a basis for his or her own judgement. (James 3:1,2)
Then, as is my habit I refereed to the Message version and expanded my reading to the first 5 verses.
Matthew 7:1-5 (MSG)
“Don’t pick on people, jump on their failures, criticize their faults— unless, of course, you want the same treatment. That critical spirit has a way of boomeranging. It’s easy to see a smudge on your neighbor’s face and be oblivious to the ugly sneer on your own. Do you have the nerve to say, ‘Let me wash your face for you,’ when your own face is distorted by contempt? It’s this whole traveling road-show mentality all over again, playing a holier-than-thou part instead of just living your part. Wipe that ugly sneer off your own face, and you might be fit to offer a washcloth to your neighbor.
OUCH!! I know that I fail when it comes to this subject, as many of us probably do. Not to give anyone an out, but there are various reasons we are unusually critical of others and we may or may not be aware of why.
The Pharisee syndrome: There is a prominent author that has stated in effect that a “pharisee is a Christian that hasn’t dealt with their trauma.”
1. a member of a Jewish sect that flourished during the 1st century b.c. and 1st century a.d. and that differed from the Sadducees chiefly in its strict observance of religious ceremonies and practices, adherence to oral laws and traditions, and belief in an afterlife and the coming of a Messiah.
We also may find ourselves being unduly harsh and critical out of our own wounding. When we have been violated, or harmed deep within our being, we can use this spirit as a coping mechanism. It can help us justify our life and actions, and elevate us from a place in which we feel inferior, or damaged. The problem is that we end up distancing ourselves from relationships with depth and meaning because we cannot help but attack what we perceive as error and eventually people will avoid being exposed to this reaction. A prime example of a wounded person who has lost the ability to be sensitive and understanding is found in the British Television character Dr. Martin Ellingham, (Doc Martin)
The show revolves around Ellingham’s interactions with the local Cornish villagers. Despite his medical brilliance, Ellingham is gruff and ill-mannered, and lacks social skills. His cold, abrasive manner offends many of the villagers. They perceive him to be short-tempered and lacking in a bedside manner, whereas he feels he is performing his duties in a professional and no-nonsense manner, not wasting time chatting with the villagers. Ellingham is rather stiff and formal, and invariably dresses in a business suit and tie, regardless of the weather or the occasion. He does not smoke and has no hesitation in pointing out the risks of unhealthy behaviors, both in private and in public gatherings.
What is realized in further episodes, is the difficult childhood he suffered, which in turn, infects every relationship he has with contempt and alienation.
I am not pointing fingers here, all I am saying is that we should essentially evaluate inwardly first and foremost. Loving others in spite of ourselves is challenging, and it may require more than a solemn commitment to “be nice”, but a further digging into our hearts and lives for answers that let us live in freedom and joy. I want healthy relationships, I want to extend grace that I have received as I am sure you do. It may take some intensive work and down and dirty soul-searching; are you prepared for that? Can I get a “YES!”