A Reflection on Matthew 7:15
7 “Do not judge, so that you may not be judged. 2 For with the judgment you make you will be judged, and the measure you give will be the measure you get. 3 Why do you see the speck in your neighbor’s eye, but do not notice the log in your own eye? 4 Or how can you say to your neighbor, ‘Let me take the speck out of your eye,’ while the log is in your own eye? 5 You hypocrite, first take the log out of your own eye, and then you will see clearly to take the speck out of your neighbor’s eye.
I helped lead our high school youth group recently. Emily Snyder, our Director of Student Ministries was away on vacation, and I had the honor sharing some thoughts from the Bible with the young people. The Bible I grabbed off the shelf in my office is the one I read from when I was in high school. (On seeing the tattered cover, one of the youth said something about that old book. And I realize that they were right.) I attended a Catholic high school in Tampa way back in the late 1970’s. As part of that educational experience, we students had to attend chapel each month along with the entire high school community. I have a general recollection of the chapel services. Some were masses, with communion and incense. Others had an order that was a little more comfortable for a good protestant boy. There is a part of one chapel service that I remember to this day. The scripture was Matthew 7:1-5. The message was on the subject of judging others. And the lay person who was invited to lead the service that day read a poem. (I asked for a copy afterward and copied it by hand into the back cover of my Bible. I still recite it from time to time, mostly when I need to hear its message.)
This message from Jesus and this poem remind me that how others behave is not the basis of my hope. I need to look after myself. The poem went:
I dreamed death came the other night, and heaven’s gates swung wide.
With kindly grace an angel stood and ushered me inside.
And there to my astonishment, stood folks I had known before.
Some I had judged and labeled, “Unfit for heaven’s door.”
Indignant words rose to my lips but never were set free,
For every face showed stunned surprise.
No one expected me.”
Almighty God, when I am tempted to stand in judgment of another brother or sister, remind me to look in the mirror, and see what I hide from myself and what they may see in me. Help me to forgive as I have been forgiven by You. Help me to show Your love in my life to all that I encounter. Help me to live with my sights on You. In Jesus’ name I pray. Amen.