One could spend a lifetime learning the Sermon on the Mount. Perhaps we ought to do just that.
This has got to be one of the most difficult passages in Scripture. It’s difficult in implication and in application. Mh krinete, ina mh kriqhte: Do not judge, so that you will not be judged.
This is one of those verses that gets misapplied all too often today. It becomes the battle cry of those who militate against intolerance in the name of antinomianism. “Don’t you say a darned thing about me, pal. What, you think you’re better than me?” In a less-belligerent-yet-related vein, it becomes simply an injunction against any kind of discernment. Or perhaps it’s used to lend weight to a judgment against another: “You see, I’m above reproach in my judgment of you, for I have followed Jesus’ instruction to the letter, sinner.”
There is perhaps a third, more difficult way to read it: be careful in judging a brother. Don’t be too hasty in judging him. Think really hard before you level a judgment against another. It’s kind of a big deal. Weigh the situation carefully, and by all means, do it in great humility and with care for your brother in mind. Take that hyperbolically huge beam outta your eye before you deign to remove the speck from his.
Would that I and we might do this.
I had a run in with a guy this week that really angered me. Upon reflection I think it was right for me to be angry. It sounds so petty as I write it. The history is brief and boring. He and I have different worldviews. I might boil it down to a case of a touch of the ol’ Pietism. I’d rather watch a mindless comedy, and he’d rather listen to praise and worship music. As a result I’ve been receiving what I would term some passive-aggressive behavior from the guy, which I find to be entirely uncalled for. The translation is something like, “I will not associate with you, schmuck boy, for it may tarnish my soul.” So the other day I we met in passing, and after some small talk I went my way. As I was leaving he made a derogatory comment to my turned back and left. As I was turning to deal with it in my normal confrontational manner I got hit with the force of this passage.
It’s clear to me that the guy is judging the living crap out of me. One issue seems to have bled over into other aspects of life. But then as I was weighing the situation I was hit with the fact that my mind was not on helping him but exacting retribution. I wanted to knock him down a few pegs. And while that may be entirely appropriate, my motivation was not. So I stopped. I turned and continued on my way.
As I ponder it all, this guy smacks of “weaker brother.” As such my freedom in Christ enables (compels?) me to be his servant, for his betterment and edification. And that’s hard. In fact, it’s one of the more difficult things I can think of doing right now, and honestly I lack the ability to do it of myself.
And then I’m back at “Blessed are the poor in spirit.” I don’t have it all together. I don’t forgive like I ought to, and I don’t act in perfect humility. But that’s exactly where Christ comes to me.
I have a feeling I’m just at the very beginning of all this.