How do I want to be judged?

Jesus says that we will be judged by the same standard by which we judge others. This should slow us down before pronouncing a verdict on others. Judging is not just about coming to a conclusion about what has happened, it is also about handing out the penalty too. 

When Jesus in Matthew 18 and Paul in 1 Corinthians 5 talk about church discipline, they make it clear that the consequences that flow from the discipline are not there to punish the person in sin, to make them pay for what they have done, to cause them to feel pain.  That is so often what we are looking for when we pass judgement. Rather the aim is to see them restored to wholeness and to fellowship, the aim is to prevent them from going through life with a false assurance. It is better to experience discipline in this life that brings you to a true knowledge of the Gospel than to reach God’s judgement day unsaved.

When we get to Jesus’ words on judging, it is important to remember that we are in the middle of one sermon.  We read these words in the context of the whole Sermon on the Mount. So we hear “For with the judgment you pronounce you will be judged”[1] through the lens of the beatitudes and the reminder that we are people who are poor in Spirit, hungering and thirsting for righteousness so that we cannot speak from a position of pride and superiority. We too are dependent upon grace.  We read them through the lens of Jesus’ heart focused commandments, we are not to approach others with murderous anger in our hearts. We read them through the lens of the Lord’s prayer, we are forgiven people who should therefore be forgiving people.

So before I challenge someone else, I need to consider my heart motives. I find one helpful thing here is to stop and see if I can envision the time when we are reconciled and when I see them happy and fruitful in their life as part of God’s family. If I cannot see that yet then maybe it is time for me to slow down before speaking.

[1] Matthew 7:2.

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