Do not judge, so that you may not be judged. For with the judgment you make you will be judged, and the measure you give will be the measure you get. (Matthew 7: 1-2, NRSV)
Of course, all of us have to use judgment. We make decisions numerous times a day that require us to evaluate our options and do what our hearts and minds tell us is the best course of action. Jesus is talking here about a different kind of judgment—passing judgment on those around us whose circumstances and hearts we cannot possibly know in the intimate way that would explain why they make the decisions they make. Perhaps this is one of the reasons some people find the Bible so seemingly contradictory; we take profound moments of wisdom and try to apply them to every situation. Certainly, a court of the people must often judge whether citizens have broken laws made for the good of all. And, admittedly, we need to draw conclusions every day that lead us to be true to our beliefs and ourselves. In fact, we need to draw conclusions about how Jesus is speaking to us in the snippets of stories that cannot possibly reveal his entire life to us. These judgments, however, are very different from condemning a homeless man because he hasn’t worked hard enough to pull himself out of his circumstances, reviling a gay person who was born into a body different from our own, or finding an obese person distasteful because we believe that others ought to have enough willpower to resist the richness of chocolate. What Jesus tells us is that we might one day find ourselves in a situation others don’t understand, and only then can we understand how it feels to be judged in such a way.
Wondering: How can we become more aware of our tendency to be judgmental? What can we do to be Christ-like instead of passing judgment?