“Do not judge, or you too will be judged. For in the same way you judge others, you will be judged.” (Mt.7:1-2)
Frightening! Jesus goes on to ask why we look for the speck in another’s eye and pay no attention to the plank in our own. He says, “You hypocrite, first take the plank out of your own eye, and then you will see clearly to remove the speck from your brother’s eye.” (Mt. 7:5)
After receiving communion on Easter Sunday a few years ago, the words, “Love, not judgement,” came into my mind. I was thanking God for his suffering, death and resurrection for us, and the blessings that my family and I have experienced as a result.
In reflecting on these words at the time, I was quite aware that I have struggled with the sin of being judgmental for most of my life. How often have I been quick to analyze someone’s circumstance without knowing all the facts and coming to a judgment?
Upon further reflection, I asked myself and the Lord what I should do to counter this tendency. “When you see a person, whether a stranger, acquaintance, close family or friend, your first thought should be, ‘how can I love this person.’” Perhaps there is a need for encouragement and affirmation. Sometimes there may be a need for prayer; perhaps, just a need to listen. Being judgmental derives from the sin of pride, of which I have an ample supply.
In my work as an attorney for an oil company one of my early assignments included representing our marketing department and the various managers of that department for a particular region of the country. I was told to watch out for a certain District Manager who had a reputation for ignoring some of the legal requirements of our business and was generally very difficult to deal with.
I was subsequently invited to attend a marketing managers’ meeting where I sought out this manager and spent some time with him. We played some tennis during an afternoon break and I got to hear about how he viewed the challenges of his job, about his family and interests in life. It appeared to me he didn’t deserve the reputation that was following him. I never had any problems with this manager, nor did we ever have any legal problems coming out of the sales district he oversaw. Fortunately, I withheld judgment, as the need for critical judgment was not apparent.
The obvious lesson from this incident is not to make a judgment until you know the facts. But an even better approach when we encounter people is to ask ourselves:
How can I love this person here and now?