“Do not judge, and you will not be judged; do not condemn, and you will not be condemned. Forgive, and you will be forgiven; give, and it will be given to you. A good measure, pressed down, shaken together, running over, will be put into your lap; for the measure you give will be the measure you get back.”
He also told them a parable: “Can a blind person guide a blind person? Will not both fall into a pit? A disciple is not above the teacher, but everyone who is fully qualified will be like the teacher. 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, ‘Friend, let me take out the speck in your eye,’ when you yourself do not see the log 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.”
This passage can be a bit misleading. We have to keep in mind that Jesus is making no promises about what will happen here on earth. Of course we will be judged and condemned in this life. Of course there will be people who don’t forgive us. Instead Jesus is making spiritual promises. God will not judge or condemn us. He will forgive us instead. We will get back in Heaven what we give here on earth. So, again, Jesus is asking us to pay it forward. God doesn’t condemn us, so who are we to condemn or judge others? If God offers us forgiveness, why on earth wouldn’t we extend that forgiveness to others?
But Jesus also takes it one step further. Just in case our sense of morality and our love for God isn’t enough, He appeals to our pride and shame. When you judge, condemn, or hold a grudge, you are a hypocrite! *gasp* I don’t know how that would have gone over in 20 C.E., but these days being called a hypocrite is probably the single most shameful insult. People go to great lengths to prove themselves to be non-hypocritical, and (ironically) to prove the hypocrisy of others. If our love for God and others isn’t enough to make us pay attention to this passage, our fear of hypocrisy should draw us right in.
Sadly, this passage tends to slip through the cracks. I think that as Christians we find the commands Jesus gives us to do something much easier than the commands to not do something. I know I personally struggle with that. And I think that since we aren’t feeling judgmental at the exact moment we read this passage, we think that we have it under control. But we don’t. You only need to take a look at a Christian facebook thread about gay marriage to see exactly how judgmental we are capable of being.
See, and THAT’S how difficult it is. In an innocent attempt to find a real world example to connect to, I ended up doing exactly what Jesus warned against. I just judged all the Christians who say things that I think are unloving towards gays, and condemned them for doing so. (If I didn’t condemn in text, I certainly did in my heart.) I pointed out the speck in my brother’s eye and ignored the log in my own. We are indoctrinated from birth into a society that teaches us to have an opinion about everything and everyone. We tell each other, “First impressions are very important because they’re hard to break.” But isn’t that exactly what Jesus doesn’t want us to do? He doesn’t want us to form impressions about people based on how they look, or a single word or action. He wants us to take a long, healthy look at ourselves, not at the people around us. Is it difficult? Oh my Lord, YES. But we have to try y’all. We have to! It’s the right thing to do.