||Don't Judge Me!
We come to a perplexing scenario. I preached from Matthew 7:1-6 this past weekend and a couple different people commented that what was said didn't seem to fit their personal experience. In verse one, Jesus said, "Judge not, that you be not judged." This isn't a prohibition against all judgment; only against the kind of judgment given by the scribes and Pharisees. A self-righteous kind of judgment. To make conclusions about people in a condemning way. But this verse was not the verse that caused trouble. It was verse two. It reads, "For with what judgment ye judge, ye shall be judged; and with what measure ye mete, it shall be measured to you again."
The only interpretation of this verse is a warning that you will be judged and condemned by others in the same way and in the same way and to the same extent that we judge and condemn them. Here's where the trouble lies: these people cited an individual to whom they were nothing but kind and gracious and accommodating to meet their every need, yet their love and generosity was only returned with harsh criticism and spiteful animosity. Does the principle taught in this verse apply to the law of sowing and reaping? If so, then why was their goodness only repaid with evil?
To properly interpret Scripture, we must start from the foundation that our understanding is flawed, not the words of the Bible. That said, we must also compare Scripture with Scripture for a complete picture, because the Bible only complements itself. Regardless of how people respond to us, it is our duty to demonstrate love. We are identified as a Christ-follower as we show love to others (John 13:35), not by how they respond. Ephesians 4:29-32 makes it abundantly clear that we are only to use words that are edifying, for the purpose of ministering grace. That doesn't mean telling someone what they want to hear, but what they need to hear. We'll save that discussion for another time.
In Matthew 5:24 and Matthew 18:15, there is a common denominator: we are to go the person directly. If he has ought against you or if he has trespassed against you, the spiritual Christian will go to them for the purpose of reconciliation (Galatians 6:1).
Back to the problem at hand. No, the words of Jesus do not fall short. Our love and generosity is not always going to be received or repaid in the same way that we offer it. That doesn't mean we don't continue to be Christ-like in our efforts or respond to them in the way that they have responded to us. Romans 12:14 sates, "Bless them which persecute you: bless, and curse not." Verse 17 adds, "Recompense to man evil for evil. Provide things honest in the sight of all men." At the end of the day, it is not about returning good for good, or evil for evil or as some people return evil for your good. It is always about you doing that which is glorifying to the Lord. If someone mistreats you, we are never given an excuse to mistreat them. So think about it!