Judgment is a challenging subject. Matthew 7 makes it very clear that we are to refrain from judging others. Verse 3-4 says, “Why do you look at the speck of sawdust in someone else’s eye and pay no attention to the plank in your own eye? How can you say, ‘Let me take the speck out of your eye,’ when all the time there is a plank in your own eye?" We all have our own issues… shortcomings for which we could be judged… so why then do we regularly position ourselves in a place of judgment? I'm not really sure that I have a good answer for that question, but I think verses 7-9 reveal a lot about how the one who actually is judge… that would be God for anyone wondering… looks at those who we often condemn. He says to us, and to anyone actively engaged in ___________________ (fill in whatever behavior that sends your moral compass into a frenzy),
“Ask and it will be given to you; seek and you will find; knock and the door will be opened to you. For everyone who asks receives; those who seek find; and to those who knock, the door will be opened."
He doesn't say, as soon as you let go of ___________ or as soon as you stop doing __________ we will "receive." See, that's the thing about grace. It comes to us while we are still messed up and broken. ("But God demonstrates his own love for us in this: While we were still sinners, Christ died for us." Romans 5:8) The one who actually has the authority and right to judge has already declared his verdict. INNOCENT! We are made innocent by Jesus death on the cross. This sounds great to me… for me! I love the fact that the weight of my sin and shortcomings has been lifted, but I get uncomfortable (and I would venture to say the same is true for most of us) when I start to consider that, when they ask, God also declares innocent those who are engaged in behavior that I despise. When the pedophile asks, he receives the full measure of God's grace… even while he is still a pedophile. When the thief asks, he receives the best that God has to offer, even if he hasn't given back all that he has stolen. God declares us innocent FIRST, and then by the power and presence of the Holy Spirit working in us he re-creates us in such a way that we are compelled to live differently. It isn't finger pointing that convicts us of sin, it is love. Jesus' love for us prompts both the inner transformation and the outer manifestation of that change in our behavior. I think what it comes down to is that God sees us (all people) first as family… as sons and daughters with whom he wants to share all that he has to offer. Jesus says,
“Which of you, if your son asks for bread, will give him a stone? Or if he asks for a fish, will give him a snake? If you, then, though you are evil, know how to give good gifts to your children, how much more will your Father in heaven give good gifts to those who ask him!"
The gifts of God are given for the people of God, which includes me and you and even the people we find difficult to love.
Jesus, thank you for declaring me innocent, for I have certainly done, and continue to do much that is worthy of a different verdict. Give me the courage to trust in your judgment and proclaim your love and grace even to my brothers and sisters who I find difficult to love.