“If ye then, being evil, know how to give good gifts unto your children, how much more shall your Father which is in heaven give good things to them that ask him? Therefore all things whatsoever ye would that men should do to you, do ye even so to them: for this is the law and the prophets.”
The modern hysteria about forming personal judgments is only matched by that associated with viruses. On this subject, a recent President with leanings more Islamic than Christian was fond of pointing out the error of such behavior by pointing in his speeches to the Sermon on the Mount. So here we are on the mount reading the words of that day’s speaker.
This section of that sermon began with the oft-quoted, “Judge not, that ye be not judged”. This beloved statement was made just a few breaths before the text cited at the start of this blog. What happened in those moments?
Unlike the speeches of the current President that tend to tumble into gibberish, Jesus seems to be quite lucid and to the point in declaring his audience evil. You did catch those first five words of the text?
Still, no one seems to have gotten up and walked out shouting, “Don’t judge me, bro.” The reason is found at the end of the chapter. We’ll save it for later. What basis did Jesus have for declaring his hearers evil?
First of all, they were all human. There might never be a more glaring revelation of the truth that nobody’s perfect than sitting there listening to someone who was, indeed, perfect. He may have also been leaning on their reading of the psalmist who declared, “God looked down from heaven upon the children of men, to see if there were any that did understand, that did seek God. Every one of them is gone back: they are altogether become filthy; there is none that doeth good, no, not one.” (Pslam 53)
When the scripture says God looked down—in the Christian experience—we are talking about the very speaker we now see pronouncing his audience evil. That is, Jesus from his experience was judging them correctly.
So, why the ban on humans making personal judgments? Well, it is not a ban. It is a caution to judge rightly because the same measure you use to judge will be used on you. Jesus welcomed the judgment of men, even when it was harsh and unfounded. This is because he knew it to be false and it did not change who he was, what he was doing, or his relationship with the Father.
An old saying told to me about reading the Bible was that whenever I saw the word “therefore” to wonder what it was there for. The reason we should be careful in our opinions and judgment is that to treat others as we wish to be treated is the sum total of all the commandments of the law and the writings of the prophets.
Judge, therefore, in the light of one who will be judged and wishes mercy and understanding from his judge. Judge also as one who wishes to be warned if he is about to drive his car off a cliff. Correct me and you might just save a fool from his foolishness.
Okay, the reason no one left the meeting? They were too astonished by the authority with which Jesus spoke. This was not a rabbi expounding the scriptures, he spoke like the author offering insight into what he wrote—and so, he was.