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. Why do you see the speck in your neighbor’s eye, but do not notice the log in your own eye? Or how can you say to your neighbor, ‘Let me take the speck out of your eye,’ while the log is in your own eye? You hypocrite, first take the log out of your own eye, and then you will see clearly to take the speck out of your neighbor’s eye. (Matthew 7:1-5 NRSV)
(Here is another meditation that involves adjectives. 😀 )
I would call myself an organized, efficient and tidy person. I love making lists of goals and projects to check off when complete. I try to keep our papers updated and filed correctly. I rotate dishes by putting the newly clean ones on the bottom as I stack them in the cupboard. I fold our laundry a certain way, and I hang all of my slacks with the fronts facing the wall of the closet. I prefer all of our hangers to be white. Fortunately, Jim still finds me adorable, but I could easily be called fussy… particular… obsessive… exacting.
In my effort to stay healthy, I walk every day that I can. I can become quite distraught if I don’t reach my weekly mileage goal. I eat only particular foods, drink purified water, and avoid sugar- so I often bring my own foods to the places I visit. I would consider myself disciplined and determined. Others may find me stubborn… regimented… overzealous… mulish… overcautious. (Maybe even rude!)
To judge is to evaluate someone or something. The judging that Jesus seems to be referring to is our negative and critical judging, as well as comparing others to ourselves. He tells us to refrain from critically judging others, reminding us that we could be judged much worse. Jesus tells us to first remove the log in our eye. That log could be any of those characteristics we describe with gentle grace in ourselves, but judge with harsh criticism in others.
We have a wide variety of adjectives available to describe people, situations, and our perceptions of them. We are to choose the more grace-filled, uplifting adjectives over the harsh, critical adjectives in our thoughts and conversations. (There are times when, yes, we are called to stop or speak against wrongdoing. Can we learn to do that without including a judgment of the person?)
May we all grow in the practice of judging others with grace, mercy, gentleness, understanding, mutuality, and kindness. May we judge others in the way we would want to be judged by them.
Jesus knows that we are all beloved and broken, saints and sinners, in one way or another. And yet his love is constant. His words help us to see that none of us have any right or power to critically judge someone. His words also become our invitation to greater unity. We are all similarly connected to one another through Jesus- by our brokenness, as well as by our belovedness.
Are you talking to ME?
Today Jesus is asking, “Why do you see the speck in your neighbor’s eye, but do not notice the log in your own eye?”
What characteristic seems to annoy you most in other people? Is there an adjective to describe it? Is there a more positive one you could use? What truths can you learn by objectively (and graciously) examining yourself for these same traits? What qualities or frailties would Jesus lovingly notice in you?
Why do you see the speck in your neighbor’s eye?