“Do not judge, so that you may not be judged.” Matthew 7:1 (NRSV)
Jesus says, “Don’t judge,” but if we are truly honest we must admit that so often we do judge! Jesus says, “Do not judge, so that you may not be judged,” and I think we relate our being judged, if we have judged others, as occurring at the Last Judgment. In fact, we may reap the judgment for having judged others in the here and now!
For example, I can recall several incidences when meeting people that I received a mistaken first impression. By their reserve or shyness, I may have judged them to be conceited or stuck-up. Some people may have made that judgment about me, but as much as I appreciate people who are gregarious and out-going, I find it difficult for me to be more than what I naturally am, that is, an introvert.
As another example, on occasion upon meeting especially gifted or talented people, I may have judged them to be egotistic or vain. In certain instances I know I have been mistaken by my first impressions. I have misjudged them. Looking back on those experiences I can see how my misjudgments could have led to missed opportunities to make friends with others.
While I may be judged at the Last Judgment for having mistaken and initially misjudged people that later became friends, I may have experienced the judgment “here and now” of having missed opportunities to make friends. I am aware of some situations where, given time, my first impressions proved to be mistaken and my initial judgments were misjudgments. My life has been enriched by making friends with those people. I am also certain that I was not patient enough in other situations so that I misjudged people and as a result there were missed opportunities to get to know others better so that we might become friends.
By God’s mercy, I believe we can receive forgiveness for having judged others. By God’s grace, I believe we can find ourselves being less judgmental as we strive to put ourselves in other peoples’ shoes and as we endeavor to see others as God sees them.
O Lord, You have given us a hard commandment to obey when You said, “Do not judge.” We recognize that we have judged others and often misjudged them. Forgive us! Keep us mindful that You alone are our Judge and that “so you may not be judged” can apply to our lives now and not just at the Last Judgment. By the power of Your Holy Spirit, help us to take a good look at ourselves so that we may not judge others. In Christ’s name, we pray. Amen.