"Stop judging, that you may not be judged.” (Matthew 7:1)

We find the defendant guilty as charged. The judge’s gavel strikes: Crack! Crack! Crack! Bailiff, take him away. This scene is repeated count­less times on countless television shows. It is splashed over newspaper headlines and is a hot topic in books and blockbuster movies. In case you haven’t noticed, crime-and-punish­ment justice gets a lot of attention. And that side of justice isn’t a bad thing. It’s necessary for the proper functioning of society.

So why is Jesus telling us not to judge? Is he saying that justice isn’t important? Probably not, considering that Isaiah describes the Lord as a God of justice (Isaiah 30:18). More likely, what he’s talking about aren’t the trials that take place in a court­room but the trials convened in our own hearts. You see, it’s possible to accuse someone of a crime inwardly, take on the role of the prosecution, interpret the evidence, and make a conviction. And all without ever letting the accused take the stand in their own defense. It’s human nature: Sometimes we judge people based on first impressions, but there are also times when people we know very well end up in our private “lineup” to be identified as miscre­ants and offenders.

But Jesus states that we are going to be judged with the same measure that we use to measure up other people. That’s a little scary! Maybe you’ve read this passage before, but you don’t know how to respond when someone rubs you the wrong way or offends you. Maybe you do know how you should respond— with grace—but find it too difficult.

Try remembering this: Your heav­enly Father looks at you with the same measure of love that he has for Jesus. You aren’t worthy of it—no one is! But that doesn’t matter. He still pours out new grace, and new mercies every day, simply because he loves you. If you can’t say that you know this grace from experi­ence, ask the Lord to show his love to you right now. Ask him to show you how much grace he has for you today—it’s probably a lot more than you expect or think you deserve. But that doesn’t matter. Accept it all, and let that grace change you over time, to the point that you no longer judge anyone.

“Lord, open my eyes to your love so that I can stop judging.”

2 Kings 17:5-8,13-15,18 Psalm 60:3-5,12-13