Judging Not

Friday, May 23, 2014 – 5 Easter, Year Two

[Go to Mission St Clare for an online version of the Daily Office including today’s scripture readings.]

Today’s Readings for the Daily Office:

Psalms 106:1-18 (morning) // 106:19-48 (evening)

Leviticus 23:1-22

1 Thessalonians 2:1-17

Matthew 7:1-12

In my own spiritual life, I don’t spend a lot of time exposing myself to the rhetoric of hell-fire and damnation. Every once in a while, though, I come across a Biblical passage that sets me quaking in my boots. Today, that passage is from the gospel. Jesus says, “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.” Yikes.

It’s one thing to imagine facing the judgment of a punishing God. And yet, I find these words of Jesus to be a much more powerful scare-tactic than trying to instill in me a fear of God’s wrath. For some reason, the idea of God judging me is nowhere near as terrifying as having my own judgment come right back at me. I try not to be a judgmental person, but would I really entrust my soul to my own judgment?

According to these words of Jesus, the only judgment we have to fear is the judgment we level ourselves. If we do have corrective gestures to make toward others, we must “first take the log out of your own eye” before we can gently remove splinters from the eyes of anyone else. Calling others to justice and accountability is a surgical art.

Yet if we can treat ourselves and others with grace and compassion, and if we can administer care with all the precision and gentleness of someone removing a splinter from someone’s eye, then we have no reason to fear the judgment of God. It was never God’s judgment that we had to fear in the first place: we only had to fear our tendencies toward rash and harsh judgments, or our blinding ignorance of the logs in our own eyes.

We have nothing to fear from God’s judgment. We have much to fear from our own. Today, let’s pray for deliverance.

Lora Walsh blogs about taking risks and seeking grace at A Daily Scandal. She serves as curate of Grace Episcopal Church in Siloam Springs and as director of the Ark Fellows, an Episcopal Service Corps program sponsored by St. Paul’s in Fayetteville, Arkansas.

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