A writer once described an experience he had while walking on the road. He apparently saw a strong, healthy looking man, leaning back lazily against a chair, attending to what seemed like an insignificant task on a board in front of him. ‘What a lazy fellow’, he thought, as he passed by. However, when he turned back for a second look from a different angle, to his horror he realized that the person he had thought ‘lazy’, was without one leg. You can just imagine what went through the mind of the one who had passed judgment so quickly! He realized that the man was far from lazy, and the work he was involved in was hardly insignificant!
How easily we pass judgment on people; how easily we criticize them; and how easily we build unpleasant thoughts about others. We do this so often, even though we may be having worse flaws than the one we are criticizing.
In Matthew7: 1-5, Jesus used an everyday but effective illustration to convey His thoughts on judging others. He first warned, “Do not judge, or you too will be judged. For in the same way you judge others, you will be judged…(verse 1-2)” He then drove His point further by asking, “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 (verse 3)?” Jesus made it absolutely clear that we need to first clear the flaws within us, before we cast stones at others. If not, we would be acting as hypocrites (verse 4-5)!
Friend, whom are you passing judgment on? Whom have you been criticizing unfairly? Can we look within ourselves, and ask the Holy Spirit to illuminate the ‘plank’ in our own eye, first? Can we remove that ‘plank’ before we look at the ‘speck’ in our neighbor’s eye? James says, “But you – who are you to judge your neighbor (James 4:12b)?” and Paul adds, “Therefore let us stop passing judgment on one another (Roman 14:13).” Instead of passing judgment, let’s spread a little love, understanding and forgiveness. Let us judge ourselves first.
Jesus was once confronted by a hostile crowd, demanding that the full weight of the law be applied against a lady caught in adultery. He responded, “He that is without sin among you, let him first cast a stone at her (John 8:7 KJV).” After her accusers left in shame, Jesus told the lady, “… neither do I condemn you, go now and leave your life of sin (John 8:11).” Something to think about before casting any stones!
I am reminded of the lyrics of a country/pop song composed and recorded by Joe South that said:
‘Unless you’ve lived a life of total perfection,
You’d better be careful of every stone that you should throw’. (Walk a Mile in my Shoes)
The Lord is the only righteous Judge. Let’s leave all judgment in His hands!
Prayer: Lord, free me from the habit of passing judgment or criticizing others. Help me to first see the weaknesses in my own life and help me to bring them under the control of your Holy Spirit. May I lift up the fallen and strengthen the weak through your love and grace. Amen.
THOUGHT – The ‘speck’ in my neighbor’s eye may be nothing compared to the ‘plank’ in my own eye