I can’t get Matthew 7 out of my head. Which I suppose is a good thing, since Jesus said the Holy Spirit would remind us of his teachings. I’m still disturbed, though, because I’ve had something else percolating in the back of my brain that worries me a little.
A slight disclaimer: these are just my thoughts and impressions. I’m not using any commentaries or other interpretations of what this chapter means. It’s mine [and I like to think I’m not completely out of touch with God] but you know: filter of crap around my heart.
So here goes.
“Do not judge, or you too will be judged. For in the same way you judge others, you will be judged, and with the measure you use, it will be measured to you.
“Why do you look at the speck of sawdust in your brother’s eye and pay no attention to the plank in your own eye? How can you say to your brother, ‘Let me take the speck out of your eye,’ when all the time there is a plank in your own eye? You hypocrite, first take the plank out of your own eye, and then you will see clearly to remove the speck from your brother’s eye.
“Do not give dogs what is sacred; do not throw your pearls to pigs. If you do, they may trample them under their feet, and turn and tear you to pieces.”
I think it’s safe to say most of us know and have heard this particular scripture quoted on a fairly regular basis.
Here’s what bothers me, though. I know a lot [and I do mean a LOT] of seemingly sincere Christians who talk trash about so-called Welfare Queens [thank you, Ronald Reagan, you jerk] with their iPhones and manicured nails and expensive clothes in the checkout lines with EBT cards.
A lot of those same people [who are incredibly kind in real life] disparage undocumented workers, GLBT people, “Liberals,” drug addicts, unwed mothers, prostitutes, and poor people.
This is textbook ‘judging’. And according to Jesus, these are mere SPECKS. Not only that, but if God judges us all, then everyone who ever had a judgmental attitude toward anyone without asking forgiveness, is being judged in the same measure they used to judge the slut in the checkout line.
I don’t know about you, but that worries me. A lot of people judge like this on a daily basis [I can tell because I see the Facebook posts]. And if God judges in the same measure, what then?
I’ve found that there are two main reasons people judge. One is Pride [à la the Pharisee praying, “God, I thank you that I am not like this sinner here at the altar with me.”]
The other is that we tend to judge others because they have a character trait that we have and dislike in ourselves.
There are probably others, but those are the two I’ve struggled with the most.
You see, I once sat in the judgment seat against all the examples I listed above. And a lot of the time, I did it with the sincere belief that I was doing the right thing. I believed I was ‘speaking the truth in love’. I believed that line of bullshit about, “Love the Sinner, Hate the Sin.”
The snag is, I spoke the truth as I understood it, and most of the time, my understanding was clouded at best, flat out wrong and twisted into wickedness at worst.
Here’s the thing that still boggles my mind: I did all this judging with what I believed to be a genuine desire to see people turn from their ‘sin’… I had no idea that I was inflicting deep emotional and spiritual wounds on people I claimed to love.
I didn’t realize that not only was I doing what was wrong [malice, gossip, slander, arrogance and boastfulness], I was encouraging the same sin in others.[Romans 1:29,30]
I guess you could say my eyes were opened.
I realized that my so-called love wasn’t love at all.
I realized that most of the time, I was just angry that “they” couldn’t see what I saw, that they didn’t agree with my understanding of scripture, that they didn’t live the way I thought they should [and regardless of the fact that I had scripture I could use to back me up, I was really just pissed off that they didn’t interpret scripture the way I did].
Sure, I thought I was right, [which should have been a red flag], but I couldn’t see my own ‘plank’ of pride because I was too busy focusing on all the specks around me.
I live every day with the knowledge that I took what was sacred and threw it to the ‘dog’ that was my own twisted heart. I was the pig that trampled the pearls. I turned the greatest love the world has ever seen and I used it as a weapon of destruction.
Because although I had deceived myself into believing that I was doing what was right, with the right motives, the truth is, I was just rationalizing my own wickedness. The wolf in sheep’s clothing was me.
Listen, the truth is, judgment, when heaped upon innocent heads by the guilty , breaks the spirit, even if you never say the words out loud.
And after you realize what you’ve done, how much pain you’ve caused, and how little you can do to heal the scars you’ve left on the hearts of others, trust me when I say, your soul shatters.
For this reason alone, I deserve Dante’s Inferno.
So needless to say, all those comments about poor people, etc. are a pretty big trigger for me. Sometimes, I handle it with grace. Others, I repay evil for evil and start flinging bricks.
I see and recognize that I sometimes use ignorant, assholian posts by others as an excuse to focus on someone, anyone else’s judgmental attitude besides my own.
But other times, I see the path to destruction they’re on, a path that I traveled on for far too long, and I just want to scream, “Stop! Turn around! Go back! That way leads to death.”
I struggle every day with the knowledge that I have personally caused untold suffering with my thoughtless words, insensitive heart, and judgmental attitude. I live with the knowledge that I can do precisely nothing to fix it, take it back, or heal those wounds.
Even worse [for me, at least] is the knowledge that I can’t prevent others from being thoughtless, insensitive, or judgmental. I can’t do much to protect their victims, and I can do even less to change the behavior or hearts of anyone but myself.
So there’s the first part of my thoughts on Matt 7.