"Let him who is without sin" (John 7: 1.) when added to "Judge not that you be not judged." (Matthew 7: 1.)
With these two sayings Jesus is making it abundantly clear we must not, as individuals, sit in judgement on the speech or actions of others. If the media today reported Jesus asking the baying crowd whether a woman caught in adultery should be stoned, the poor woman would very quickly be up to her neck in rocks.
We are constantly being encouraged by the media to play an indiscriminate blame game. Surely, we say, when some calamity happens, somebody must be to blame and this reaction has now become so widespread in the population when disasters occur that it very often becomes also the knee jerk response between neighbours; friends and relatives.
We like to point the finger of blame. Why? When we are accusing others of some wrongdoing we are taking our eyes away from our own shortcomings and by so doing we try to make ourselves seem more respectable. John, in his letters points out the simple truth that we are all sinful, whether in thought, word, deed or any permutation of the three and if we are to make progress in the Christian life we must first recognize and then accept that fact.
Once recognized and accepted we must then realize we are in no position to pronounce judgement about the acts of another for only God knows the complex set of life-circumstances which led an individual to that course of action or to the use of those words.
We are, however, told to recognize people by their fruits (Matthew 7:16) and so whilst not judging another we can in general recognize behaviour in someone as being trustworthy or otherwise by whether that behaviour is in accordance with God's commandments.
The difference between the two types of 'judging' is that when passing an instinctive judgement on someone we frequently fall into the error of determining the severity of their wrongdoing and then attaching a degree of blame whereas only God can do that.
Also there arises the tendency to make comparison with ourself who, we believe, is either free from that particular sin, or it is not so severe in us as in others, and so a misleading sense of self righteousness arises in us.
And so we must first remove all the logs from our own eye before we can even think about removing the speck of sawdust from the eye of another and as this is impossible for us to do, let us not be judgemental.
Jesus is, as always, unequivocal in His warning when He tells us (Matthew 7: 2) "For in the same way you judge others, you will be judged, and with the measure you use, it will be measured to you."
As always we can believe Him or not for that option is always left open for us.
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