Daily ReadingIf John 3:16 is the best-known verse in the Bible, number two is Matthew 7:1 (though most people would not know to look for it in Matthew); "Judge not, that you be not judged." The rub comes a few verses later, however, when Jesus says, "Beware of false prophets" (Matthew 7:15), which is an invitation to judge, "You will recognize them by their fruits" (Matthew 7:20), clearly judging them by their actions. So, what gives? To judge or not to judge, that is the question.
Jesus did not judge a woman "caught in the act of adultery" (John 8:4). She was shoved before him with the challenge, "What say you?" He responded, "Neither do I condemn you" (John 8:11). He does not judge now, but in a day to come, he will, and that judgment will be final. In a day to come, Jesus will sit on the throne of God, and we will each stand before him. There will be those who argue, "Lord, Lord, did we not prophesy in your name, and cast out demons in your name, and do many mighty works in your name?" In final judgment, Jesus will respond, "I never knew you; depart from me" (Matthew 7:22-23). You don't want to be one of those.
Reading through the Old Testament these past nine months, we encountered the Law, the "You shall and you shall nots," God's standards for life. Then the prophets judged the people of God according to these standards. Jesus now summarizes all that we have read, "Whatever you wish that others would do to you, do also to them, for this is the Law and the Prophets" (Matthew 5:12). The prophets declared God's judgment, not to condemn, but to turn God's people back toward God's love. It is not our place to condemn; that is the seat of God. We are called to prepare each other to meet God, "First take the log out of your own eye, and then you will see clearly to take the speck out of your brother's eye" (Matthew 7:5). It is God's call for us to receive grace, then give grace; to help others see clearly, because when someone truly sees clearly, they truly see God and are prepared to stand before his throne.
Wonderful God, what a great work You do in our lives. You meet us where we are, sinners, and embrace us, and live in us, and change us from the inside out. There is nothing we do to deserve this. It is only because of Your love and grace that we see salvation. Then you never stop saving us, transforming our hearts and our minds so that everything we do displays Your grace and truth.