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Jesus said: ‘Do not judge, so that you may not be judged. For with the judgement you make you will be judged, and the measure you give will be the measure you get. Why do you see the speck in your neighbour’s eye, but do not notice the log in your own eye? Or how can you say to your neighbour, “Let me take the speck out of your eye”, while the log is in your own eye? You hypocrite, first take the log out of your own eye, and then you will see clearly to take the speck out of your neighbour’s eye.’Matthew 7:1-5
It is easy to condemn others – to point the finger of blame – to ask why others are not as good as us. This is the situation that Jesus is addressing in today’s reading. Jesus is drawing attention to the casual judgements and condemnations that we all indulge in on a daily basis. Jesus is drawing attention to them, and then telling us to: Stop it!
In the context of last week’s readings, we can see that Jesus is speaking about the old ways of engaging with God. But, to stop there is to ignore that Jesus is talking to us too. Yes, us, in our modern, sophisticated twenty-first century world.
There are so many things that cause us to condemn and judge: politics, morality, economics, the environment, what should and should not be opened as we come out of lockdown, to name but a few. We all have opinions, and we all fall into the trap of seeing our personal opinions as sacrosanct; we use our own prejudices as the yardstick against which we choose to judge and condemn others. This is exactly what Jesus is telling us not to do!
Of course, Jesus is not telling us that we should not have high standards. Rather, he is reminding us that we need to make sure we apply those standards, first and foremost, to ourselves. Jesus calls us to stop focusing on the shortcomings of others, whilst wallowing in our own failings and sins.
Do you remember last week’s reading when Jesus taught us how to pray in a new way?
The challenge for today is contained in that prayer:
And lead us not into temptation; but deliver us from evil.
Lord, guide us in our thinking and in our interaction with others, that we may love as you love.