January 8: Thoughts in Response to Reading the New Testament

Matthew 7:1-6

Judging Others

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[a] eye, but do not notice the log in your own eye? 4 Or how can you say to your neighbor,[b] ‘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[c] eye.

Jesus’ words on judging others are good medicine for those of us who feel frustrated by the world around us.  This topic of judgement is one that has been on my mind a fair bit this year.  People like me who are zealous in their nature come head to head with this issue, I think. How, with our deep convictions, do we avoid the mistake of bad judgement?  Something that was helpful a couple of months ago was re-framing God's desire for myself and others in a more relative sense: To be open and obedient to God’s nudgings. That helps relax the frame of absolute behavioural and spritiual ideals, which might demand people to live in very specific ways.  Each of us it at a different place in our walk with God, and in a different life context.  Trying to be sensitive to that I think can be very helpful in avoiding the pitfall of judging others harshly.

One of my challenges, I think, is that I spend so much time alone, and so my personal context looms large and threatens to make me blind to the diversity of other people’s contexts. I find it interesting when going to another person’s home for dinner.  Sometimes while I’m there I have this sinking feeling come over me that “wow, this person’s context is different than mine”, and there is a twinge of discomfort as I relate that to the more absolute ways that I tend to view the world.

Something that has changed for me in the last year a bit is that 12 months ago I wasn’t made uncomfortable by the command to first take the plank out of one’s own eye.  This year it causes me a bit more angst.  Why I’m not quite sure.  Partly it’s that I feel a bit less close to God, and as I try and introspect what has changed, or what the “problem” is, I’m not actually sure.  One aspect of this is probably that life tends to moderate itself. We can have a mountain top experience one year, and it might pervade for a week, or a month, or a year, but over time things tend to level out again. (not to return as they were before, but also not to remain heightened at the same level forever)

Profaning the Holy

6 “Do not give what is holy to dogs; and do not throw your pearls before swine, or they will trample them under foot and turn and maul you.

This is a curious passage. A familiar one, but not one that I understand that well. I’m not sure if I’ve connected life circumstances to this with any frequency. But it has a certain urgency that get’s one’s attention. What is Jesus trying to say to us?