Pursuing the Way of Authenticity
Judge not, that you be not judged. For with the judgment you pronounce you will be judged, and with the measure you use it will be measured to you.Why do you see the speck that is in your brother’s eye, but do not notice the log that is in your own eye? — Matthew 7:1-3
What a great body of Christ we would be if our generation chose to be authentic Christians! The world is dying for followers of Jesus who are the real deal. And one of the key areas we must continually address is the way we treat one another. Our Lord didn’t just call us to be His disciples; He was very explicit in His instructions regarding our life together. Today’s oft-quoted but poorly applied teaching from Jesus gives us a crucial touchpoint in pursuing authenticity—in the way we judge others.
According to Jesus’ words in Matthew 7:1, we choose to be authentic by not judging others. Too many people are eager to quote the “judge not” part of His statement as a blanket prohibition on all evaluation, criticism, or confrontation. Seldom is the entire context of Christ’s words taken into account. “Judge not” doesn’t mean judge nothing.
Actions are among the few things that can be judged. Evil should be called evil. Sin must be identified as sin. Good actions can be judged as good. We should want these matters pointed out in our lives and may need to graciously point them out in the lives of others. But judgment must be guarded wisely and with the gift of discernment. Authentic Christ-followers learn when and how to judge.
Here are some matters we shouldn’t judge:
1) Don’t judge motives. We don’t know why people do what they do. God alone knows the intentions of our hearts and can respond as only He can. When we presume to grasp motives, we are stepping dangerously into His area of responsibility.
2) Don’t judge appearance. The color of a person’s skin, their clothes, their possessions, and environmental factors are not a basis for judgment. Appearance-based verdicts are notoriously off the mark because they ignore the person—someone God loves.
3) Don’t judge harshly. When we do have to make a judgment call, we must season it with grace, as we know we would want to be treated if the roles were reversed.
The Lord’s words as a whole caution us to always consider how we want to be judged and measured before we apply our standards to anyone else. Exempting ourselves from the standards by which we measure others is blatant hypocrisy. His summary teaching was, “So whatever you wish that others would do to you, do also to them” (Matthew 7:12).
Jesus used the “speck in the eye” example in Matthew 7:3 to make the point that we choose to be authentic by judging ourselves. Too often we deflect or avoid significant problems of our own by pointing out the shortcomings of others. The Lord was clear: first we must deal with our own issues honestly before Him. Only then can we rightly reflect His truth and grace when we speak to others about issues in their lives.
The world does take notice when followers of Jesus act authentically. Our generation needs to see real Christ-followers as badly as any other time in history. But the world has little patience with people who claim to be Christians but act in hypocritical ways.
Ask the Lord to banish any tendency to hold others to a different standard than you hold yourself. Ask for a clearer perspective on your own shortfalls. And seek His help and power to become one of those in this generation who are authentically His.
What are the most authentic relationships you can identify in your life at the moment?
Which of Jesus’ warnings would you benefit most from following more closely?
Lord, Your Son lived an absolutely authentic life without a hint of brittleness, caution, or fear. He cared about what You thought and didn’t worry about anyone else’s judgments. I not only care too much about what others think, I often don’t care nearly enough about what You think. I let values get out of order. Lord, I know I need to be more like Your Son. Please continue shaping my life to that end. Make me more attuned to Your thoughts as Your Spirit and Word work within me. In Jesus’ name, amen.