Do not judge, or you too will be judged. Matthew 7:1
I’ve been quick to judge anyone I saw walking in the street while staring at a phone. How could they be so oblivious to the cars about to hit them? I’ve told myself. Don’t they care about their own safety? But one day, while crossing the entrance to an alleyway, I was so engrossed in a text message, that I missed seeing a car at my left. Thankfully, the driver saw me and came to an abrupt stop. But I felt ashamed. All of my self-righteous finger-pointing came back to haunt me. I had judged others, only to do the same thing myself.
My hypocrisy is the kind of thinking that Jesus addressed in the Sermon on the Mount: “First take the plank out of your own eye, and then you will see clearly to remove the speck from your brother’s eye” (Matthew 7:5). I had a huge “plank”—a blind spot through which I judged others with my own impaired judgment.
“For in the same way you judge others, you will be judged,” Jesus also said (7:2). Recalling the disgusted look on the driver’s face that day, after having to make an abrupt stop when I walked in front of the car, I’m reminded of the disgusted looks I gave others engrossed in their phones.
None of us is perfect. But sometimes I forget that in my haste to judge others. We’re all in need of God’s grace.
In today’s reading we see our Lord’s condemnation of a judgmental attitude. It’s remarkable how we can have a perfectionistic attitude toward others yet ignore the glaring faults we possess. The Pharisees of Jesus day were scathing in their attack on the sins of others while seemingly unaware of their own faults. In seeing the pretense of these hypocrites, Jesus gave a series of rebukes such as: “Woe to you, teachers of the law and Pharisees, you hypocrites! You clean the outside of the cup and dish, but inside they are full of greed and self-indulgence. Blind Pharisee! First clean the inside of the cup and dish, and then the outside also will be clean” (Matthew 23:25–26).
The Greek word hypocrite means “he that wears the mask” and was used of actors in plays. The private lives of hypocrites do not match the image they project for public view. The Christian walk should lead to greater integrity and transparency. To avoid hypocrisy, it’s essential that we confess our sin and rely on the Spirit to help us live holy lives (Galatians 5:16; Ephesians 5:18; 1 John 1:9).
In what ways can you become more gracious in your response to the behavior of others?