by Andrew Cromwell
One of Jesus' more familiar quotes is, "Do not judge, or you too will be judged." I am convinced this is one of the most abused and misunderstood passages in Scripture. You hear it used all the time by those who don't want to be told their behavior is inappropriate. "Don't judge me," they say, "cause Jesus said you have no right!" I have even heard it used repeatedly as an excuse to get dismissed from jury duty. "I can't judge," people say, "because I'm a Christian and Jesus said not to."
This passage is found in the seventh chapter of Matthew and when you read the four verses that follow the oft-quoted phrase, you discover that Jesus is neither giving people a pass for bad behavior, nor a lame jury excuse. What He is saying is that we have a problem with putting ourselves into God's shoes and trying to be the ultimate judge. We love to criticize, tear people down to size and generally put people in their place.
It is not that there is any problem with encouraging someone to come out of an addiction or be faithful to their spouse or not cheat on their taxes. On the contrary, these things are desirable and Christ wants us to be a help to our fellow human being. The problem is the way we do it!
The truth is that we all have areas in our lives that do not measure up to God's standard. And when we judge and criticize another with an attitude that says, "I have a right to judge you," we are sorely mistaken. Even Christ Himself said that He didn't come to judge in that way, instead He came to save.
The difference is love. It is said that love covers a multitude of sins. It is said, because it does. Jesus came to cover us with His love so that we could once again have an open relationship with Father God without separation or distance. Jesus' love was so obvious to people that even the worst sinners flocked to Him.
We, on the other hand, have a difficulty with that kind of love. We get love confused with approval. We are afraid if we love someone they will get the idea that we approve of their bad behavior. So we do what is easy and shut off the love and bring out the judgment.
Judgment is so much easier than love. It knows only right or wrong without grey. It requires no relationship. It demands no sacrifice. It costs you nothing.
Love on the other hand, can cost you everything.