“Judge not, that you be not judged.  For with the judgment you pronounce you will be judged, and with the measure you use it will be measured to you.Matthew 7:1-2 ESV
Patience, kindness, mercy, and grace are the characteristics and heart attitudes that should mark my interactions with others. Pronouncing eternal judgment on others should not be part of my thoughts and actions toward others. Oftentimes I want to make character decisions and judgments about others and pronounce a decree of God against a person. I want to not only evaluate and discern a person’s heart attitude and motivation, I want to be the judge of their soul by declaring judgments that belong only to the Lord. This is the “judge not” that Jesus is talking about in this passage. It is a call to let God be the rightful judge of humanity and for me to demonstrate the love of God to everyone I encounter.
I find myself taking the seat of judgment as I deal with others in this world. I find myself wanting to declare and mete out the judgments of God upon a person, especially if they have wronged me in any way. I find myself in a state of being overly critical and demeaning to others. I have my point of view and I express my viewpoint and character through this lens. Jesus is calling me to something radically different. He is calling me to live my life, all of my life, in communion with him.
I have been reading Jonah lately and this passage speaks about the same heart attitude that Jonah was expressing. Jonah was absolutely certain that the enemies of God, the Ninevites, deserved to experience God’s wrath and displeasure. Jonah reaches a point where he would rather die than see the mercy of God extended to these bitter enemies. God rebukes Jonah by expressing his concern and love for the Ninevites. That even the enemies of God are in need of the mercy and grace of the Lord.
This needs to be my own heart as well. Jesus wants me to be concerned for the welfare and salvation of ALL people, not just the people I like or think deserve God’s mercy. That’s the story of the gospel. The gospel is the love of God reaching out to his enemies and saving them. In my arrogance, I forget that I too was once an enemy of God. I too once lived in a state of rebellion. But God… He reached out and changed me. He gave me a new heart and saved me.
So I too want to share this Good News with everyone I meet. There is not a single person beyond the reach of God’s saving grace and mercy. I am called to love my enemy and the enemies of the Lord. I am called to kindness, gentleness, and humbleness toward them. I am to pray for their salvation and do all that I can to demonstrate the gospel before them. Even when they despise and curse the gospel and me. It is not for me to make or pronounce judgment upon them. While there is still time, anyone and everyone can be saved. The call is to love. Love people deeply with the same love that Christ pours upon me each and every day.