“Do not judge others, and you will not be judged.” Matthew 7:1 NLT
We judge all the time, don’t we? Presumably we think that we know more or are better than others. Sometimes we make judgments about people because they look, sound or even smell different. We make judgments about people’s intellect, physical capabilities, country of origin and religion. We judge others because of where they live or don’t live, what they appear to have or not have. Jesus says, “Do not judge…” Many of the world’s religions believe in a day of judgment and Christianity is no exception. I am so glad that the work of judgment will be in the hands of someone qualified.
Defense attorneys like to know ahead of time which judge will be hearing their client’s cases because knowledge of the judge and how he works can influence the preparation for and the outcome of the trial. So, let’s get to know the judge. The Apostle Paul calls him the “righteous judge” (1 Timothy 4:8) and in his letter to the Hebrews, we are told he knows our weaknesses firsthand (Hebrews 4:15). In the next few paragraphs I want to briefly explore this affinity that Jesus shares with us.
It was rumored that he was conceived out of wedlock. His early years were spent as a refugee in Egypt. He was the son of a blue collar worker and learned the trade of a carpenter himself. He was a nerd. He loved learning and was a good student. One day he was so engrossed in a discussion about the Law that he was accidentally left behind at the Temple in Jerusalem by his parents. He lived at home until he was thirty. He was baptized and taught a message of change. He was a person of influence, some called him Lord and yet he was the humblest of servants. He was a teacher, a healer, a caterer and a friend to those on the fringes of society. He was accused of being a drunk, a glutton, crazy and devil possessed. People twisted what he said and some tried to trip him up with cleverly worded questions. He was homeless, had a very limited wardrobe and walked everywhere.
Jesus experienced great popularity, he had thousands of followers but he also experienced unpopularity and rejection. He was abandoned by his friends, denied by one of his closest friends and betrayed by one who pretended to be a friend. He experienced great despair and loneliness. He was falsely accused, lied about and lied to. He was falsely arrested, falsely convicted and sentenced to die for being the son of God.
The Native American proverb, “Don't judge any man until you have walked two moons in his moccasins.” is often used to remind people to reserve judgment until they have firsthand knowledge of someone else’s experience. I’d say that Jesus’ experience on this earth qualifies him as having walked many moons in my moccasins. That makes me feel safe with him as my judge. So let’s just leave the judgment to him.
Be a blessing.
Mark A. Stoddart, M.Div.
Administrative Director for Spiritual Wellness
Shawnee Mission Medical Center