Epistles to the Cyberchurch - Su Min

To: All
From: Su Min
Subject: Judging Others

My dearest children,
Today's passage is Matthew 7:1-5. Do not judge or you too will be judged. For in the same way that you judge others, you will be judged, and with the measure you use, it will be measured to you (Matt 7: 1-2.)

A parallel expanded passage is found in Luke 6:37-38. Do not judge and you will not be judged. Do not condemn and you will not be condemned. Forgive and you will be forgiven. Give and it will be given to you. A good measure, pressed down, shaken together and running over, will be poured into your lap. For with the measure you use, it will be measured to you.

An agricultural analogy is given here, representing physical giving: if you give away a big jugful of grain, a similar big jugful of grain will be given back to you: the jug will not just be nearly full, but a good measure, packed into the jug, pressed down to compact the grain, shaken together to make sure no empty spaces are left within, overflowing, running over: such is the bounty of grain that will be poured into your lap... and so too, when the bounty is not physical but metaphorical, when you give forgiveness, when you give others permission to be themselves, when you give acceptance, when you give love, as you give it will be given to you: a good measure, pressed down, shaken together and running over will be poured into your lap. Luke 6:38 is one worth committing to memory.

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? How can you say to your brother, "Let me take the speck out of your eye" when all the time there is a plank in your own eye? You hypocrite, first take out the plank in your own eye, then you will see clearly to remove the speck from your brother's eye.

Jesus effectively uses gross exaggeration, the hyperbole, to stress his point. Correct your big imperfections before you start to correct the tiny imperfections in other people...

To me, who has a judgmental mind, a quick tongue, always feeling others are inefficient, lousy, not good at speaking or slow at doing things, the words of Jesus fall hard on my ears, and pierce my heart. But as I listen and subject myself to His will, I know that I am being broken, melted down, remoulded in His image.. My Lord and My God, I submit.

Judge not that ye be not judged. So quick I am to measure others by my own high, narrow, bigoted, rigid exacting standards: not that I measure myself with the same standard: But I expect others to be kind, compassionate, generous, holy, un-hypocritical, effective, efficient, nice to me, utterly grateful for my friendship, frugal, not too fat, not too thin, good looking, truthful, punctual, sing on pitch, read notes ably and accurately, always attentive, not irritating: and when they fall short of my standards, I judge them harshly. I judge my spouse, my children, my friends, my choir members, other members of the church, other Singaporeans, people of other races, peoples of the world. God knows how guilty I am of this sin...

Seldom have I judged them as God has judged me. If God judges me with all his wrath, then I am done for: a miserable worm, a fruitless branch: the axe is already at my roots and I am to be chopped off, left to wither, and be thrown into the fire...

But God judges me with love and forgiveness, a love that is patient, kind, a love that keeps no record of wrongs... God chooses to forgive the errors of my way. God looks upon me as His child, made in his image. God chooses to see in me whatever is true, noble, right, pure, lovely, admirable, excellent or praiseworthy (Philippians 4:8). And God instructs me so to do when I relate others...

Do not judge or you too will be judged. Rabbi, I hear and learn. I listen a obey.

While we are not to be judgmental, it does not mean that we are not to evaluate: Jesus winds up this teaching by saying, "Do not give to dogs what is sacred; do not throw your pearls to pigs. If you do, they may trample them under your feet, and then turn and tear you to pieces". Putting on spiritual goggles to read this piece, I see not Virtual Reality, but Biblical Reality. We are to evaluate our audience: if they are not ready to receive God's word, if they show their hostility by baring their teeth, snarling, growling, barking, we should have the spirit of discernment to pause, and not present to them what is sacred. If they are piggish in behaviour, boorish, not ready to hear the Good News, then we should not throw our pearls to the pigs, let they trample the pearls underfoot and turn to gore with their tusks, and tear us to pieces with their teeth . Rather we should use our evangelistic fervour in a more appropriate environment. A few of us will be called to preach in a hostile environment. Very few. Most are given a much more open platform to spread the good news.

Jesus says do not be judgmental, but evaluate carefully the environment, especially when you are doing God's work.

Let us clean up our own act. If we want the world to be a beautiful place, we must start by reducing our own ugly behaviour. If we want the world to be more peaceful and quiet, we must learn to stop shouting angrily. If we give out oodles of love, care and concern, forgiveness and acceptance, the Son of God promises that the same will be given to us in full measure, poured into our lap, pressed down, shaken together and running over.

Let us pray.

For any comments or enquiries please write to Dr. Lim Su Min

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