The theme across today’s First Reading and Gospel could not be any clearer – it’s all about judgment. You could ask Christians and non-Christians alike if it’s right to judge other people and you’d probably get a similar response, something along the lines of, “stop judging, that you may not be judged” (Matthew 7:2). Let’s dive a little deeper, though.
Saint Paul provides a good explanation to the Romans about what happens when we judge one another. He first starts out by saying that we have no excuses, meaning that there are no good reasons for passing judgment on someone or anyone else. In doing so, we condemn ourselves. Why? Because we often do the very same things – we are human, we are fallen like our brother or sister on whom we are passing judgment. For example, if I judge someone for gossiping about someone else, I am failing to see the beam in my own eye versus the splinter in my brother’s eye (Matthew 7:5) because how many times before have I gossiped? Too many to count. We were not created to be judges of our brothers and sisters. Only God Himself is the just judge.
As such, God judges based on the actions and decisions of our lives and we ourselves know both the rewards and the consequences. Let me say that again – we know both the rewards and the consequences, primarily, eternal life with God or eternal separation from Him. And, if we know the consequences especially, why do we believe that we will escape God’s judgment? By playing judge, are we considering ourselves better or more important than God? Are we trying to make our own judgment?
Reading a little further, Saint Paul explains that it’s more than just the simple act of judging another that causes such a problem. Rather, it’s the “stubbornness and impenitent heart” and “those who selfishly disobey the truth.” At face value, those words may seem a little harsh, but if we do a true examination of the depths of our hearts, we can see those seeds in the root of judgment. It’s the stubbornness and impenitence that cause us to forget our own sins, the very same sins for which we are judging someone else. It’s the selfishness in disobeying truth by thinking that we are above God and, therefore, able to pass judgment.
On a little more personal note, about seven years ago, God completely wrecked me when it came to the beam in my own eye of judging others. When I realized what I had done and the impact it had both on those I had judged and on myself, I wept in repentance. While I am not perfect and I constantly need to remind myself not to judge others, this experience stands in the forefront of my mind even to this day and the conscious effort to not judge others has made a difference in my life.
“Stop judging, so that you may not be judged.”
Erin Madden is a Cleveland native and graduate of Franciscan University of Steubenville. She is passionate about the Lord Jesus, all things college sports and telling stories and she is blessed enough to get paid for all three of her passions. You can catch her on old episodes of the Clarence & Peter Podcast on YouTube as well as follow her on Twitter@erinmadden2016.
Feature Image Credit: Tingey Law Firm, https://unsplash.com/photos/veNb0DDegzE