There is a reason Jesus doesn’t want us to summarily condemn others, and His reason goes far beyond the simple fact that we ought not to speak negatively of that which God has made, or lay a curse against a potential or actual brother or sister. He said, “Do not judge, or you too will be judged. For in the same way you judge others, you will be judged, and with the measure you use, it will be measured to you.”
God our Father has integrity. He does not say something and then do the opposite Himself. Likewise, our Father does not judge against that which He excuses Himself on. Of course, He has no need to excuse Himself, because He has integrity and does not act apart from it. In fact, He is the epitome of integrity, having had it, having it now, and knowing that He will have it forever. Scripture affirms God, “does not change like shifting shadows.” It is therefore fitting, appropriate and even necessary for His children to be like Him in also having integrity.
To judge another for a sin (or a perceived sin), is to recognize that such deserves judgment. Even if we had no sin of our own at all, to pass sentence on another for their failure before God is to assume God’s seat as judge – and what manner of prideful assumption is that? But much worse, for us to do so while holding a place in our hearts for sin is to actually admit that we likewise should be judged. We might not recognize our own error without a lot of self-reflection, but God is “able to judge the thoughts and intentions of the heart,” and He does recognize it. Our lack of integrity is not fooling him, even if it fools all around us. Even if it fools us ourselves! The result is that His own integrity comes into play – for how can He allow us to judge another while at the same time expecting Him to excuse us? God could only do that if He lacked integrity. Far be it from Him to treat His children unfairly! The judge of all the earth will always do rightly, so Jesus teaches, “in the same way you judge others, you will be judged, and with the measure you use, it will be measured to you.”
The saddest thing is that people Jesus was speaking to at the time knew this well. “Many a time, the Rabbis warned people against judging others. ‘He who judges his neighbour favourably’, they said, ‘will be judged favourably by God.’ They laid it down that there were six great works which brought credit in this world and proﬁt in the world to come—study, visiting the sick, hospitality, devotion in prayer, the education of children in the law, and thinking the best of other people. The Jews knew that kindliness in judgment is nothing less than a sacred duty.”
Yet many of them did not practice kindliness in judgment. If they did, Jesus would not have had to make this point. But that He makes it so forcefully is a clear warning to every disciple of God – both the crowd listening at the time and us who are called by His Name thousands of years later.
When faced with the choice between grace and judgment, the disciple of God must always choose grace! It is what we would want for ourselves. It is what God has already demonstrated for us, and it is the very least we can do for others made in His image.
The whole reckoning of absolution depends upon faith and repentance. And these two things elude the knowledge of a man when he has to pass sentence upon another man.John Calvin
Be grateful that God has not judged us as our sins deserve. Being full of thanksgiving for that, do likewise for others.