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.
There are two terms which are often confused – judgment and discernment. There are also two distinct arenas where judgment and discernment are applied – individually and corporately.
Individual Christians are called to discern between right and wrong. We are called to be shaped by the Word of God, centered in the teachings and actions of Jesus Christ. And we are challenged throughout Scripture to hold fast to our beliefs in changing times. As it says in Ephesians 4:14:
We must no longer be children, tossed to and fro and blown about by every wind of doctrine, by people’s trickery, by their craftiness in deceitful scheming.
Faithful discernment shifts into critical judgment when we believe that our understanding of the scriptures applies to everyone. In areas where God’s Word is not definitive, two faithful, intelligent, prayerful Christians can come to different conclusions. When we think that how we think is the only way to think, then we slip into an unhealthy judgment of others.
Additionally, when we get too locked into our own perspectives, we often focus on particular sins (someone else’s) rather than our own. That where this “do not judge” passage comes into play. When we let our certitude drive our relationships with others, we far too readily point out the speck in our neighbor’s eye, while ignoring the log in our own.
Do you see a distinction between judgment and discernment in your personal life? Do you know people who cross the line between discernment and judgment? In what areas do you cross the line and harm the message of God’s grace?
Let us pray,
Lord God, it is truly right and proper that we should learn from your Word, be shaped by your call and hold fast to the values you teach. Where we are complacent, wake us up, that we may be your faithful servants and vibrant witnesses. Yet we also confess the ways we are judgmental in daily life, the times we condemn those with whom we disagree, and the harm such judgment does to your message of grace. Forgive us. We pray in the name of the one who taught in both grace and truth, Jesus Christ our Lord.
We will address corporate discernment/judgment tomorrow.
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Tags: devotions, fasting, judgment, Lent