“Judge not, and you will not be judged; condemn not, and you will not be condemned; forgive, and you will be forgiven. … For the measure you give will be the measure you get back” (Luke 6:37-38). How often do we find ourselves speaking for God? Have you ever thought about it? Often when we set ourselves as God’s mouthpiece, we usually place ourselves as the judge. It feels good sometimes to sit in a place where we can look at the world around us identifying and parsing all the wrongs. But Jesus called upon his followers to adopt a different posture: don’t judge, for in the manner you judge, you will be judged (Matthew7:1-2). Jesus believed that every person bears the image of God (Genesis1:27), and therefore, each person has infinite value and worth. At the same time, you and I are more like each other than either of us is like God, so Jesus concluded in the way I treat you, God will respond to me. In the manner I judge, I will be judged. In the manner I am merciful, I will receive mercy (Matthew5:7). And, in the manner I forgive, I will be forgiven. When we look at the world through Jesus’ words, there is no room for us to position ourselves as speaking for God, the Judge. I know that I need mercy; do I, therefore, demonstrate the same mercy I hope to receive? Do I want to be judged as I judge others? James, Jesus’ brother, echoes his brother: “Do not speak evil against one another. … He that speaks evil against a brother or judges his brother, speaks evil against the law and judges the law. But if you judge the law, you are not a doer of the law but a judge. There is one lawgiver and judge, He who is able to save and to destroy. But who are you that you judge your neighbor?” (James 4:11-12).Do I have the capacity to save a life or destroy it? Am I worthy of judging another like myself? Jesus and James both taught that our job is not to sit in judgment of our neighbors, but rather be merciful and forgive, especially if we hope to receive mercy and forgiveness. Think about that a minute. God will treat me that way I treat others. How would that change how we treat others? Would that motivate us to be more compassionate and merciful, less judgmental? Such action may, in fact, profoundly impact our communities and the world around us.
Father, forgive me as I have forgiven. Be merciful to me as I show mercy. And, may I always err on the side of mercy in judgment. Amen