While the kids watched a movie, my husband and I both took the opportunity to relax in our own preferred ways – he with a few episodes of his favorite show, me in a nice hot bath.
As I soaked in the tub, I heard the movie end and the kids begin to get rowdy.
I waited for a minute or two, hoping my husband would corral them and start the bedtime routine, but he didn’t.
So I got angry.
And I unleashed that anger. I began to yell, blame, grumble, complain.
But the tantrum didn’t last long before Matthew 7:1 popped into my head: Judge not lest you be judged.
Now, I 100% feel that verse is overused in an excuse to let others off the hook for doing evil, to cut down the work of mercy of admonishing the sinner.
So I almost dismissed it.
But I’ve been trying to overcome my sins of pride and impatience, so if the Holy Spirit is putting that verse on my heart, I GUESS I’ll think about what it means to me in this situation *deep sigh*.
Here’s what I realized…
Judge Not Lest You Be Judged
My husband hadn’t done anything objectively wrong.
Not a thing.
In fact, he and I were doing the exact. same. thing.
He was relaxing. I was relaxing.
He wasn’t done with his show. I wasn’t done with my bath.
He hoped I would get the kids. I hoped he would get the kids.
But instead of seeing the whole picture, I turned my eyes and accusations solely on him. He’s being selfish. He’s being lazy. He should be doing this for me.
I judged his innocent actions to be wrong, and they weren’t. Or if they were, then my parallel actions were just as wrong.
So in judging him to be sinning, I was judging myself to be sinning – but ignoring my own actions.
And worse, I was using my judgement as a justification for further sinful behavior – for my pride, for my anger, for the reason I “had” to yell.
In training my eyes on him, in seeking his faults, in using his perceived failings to excuse my own, I condemned myself.
Not only did I overlook my own actions, but I led myself right into sinfulness.
Judge not lest you be judged.
Admonishing the Sinner: A Work of Mercy
How often do we fall into this trap?
How often do we focus on the sins of others, real or imagined, and excuse our own?
How often do we become outraged by someone else’s perceived wrongdoing, and turn to sinful and self-righteous means of righting that wrong?
Admonishing the sinner is not a “work of anger.”
It’s not even a “work of justice.”
It’s a “work of mercy.”
If we want to admonish the sinner, we need to
1. Make sure the sin we perceive is an actual sin – which is going to involve prayer, discernment, self-reflection, and most of all empathy for the other person, putting ourselves in their place of better yet: reaching out to talk to them if possible, to understand their heart, their motives, their actions
2. Act from a place of love and mercy – which means we need to acknowledge our own sinfulness and need for conversion, treating the other as a fellow beloved child of God, equal to us in dignity, that we may address their wrongdoing out of charity rather than wrath.
There’s a fine line between admonishing the sinner and judging not lest we be judged.
And often that line is drawn in our hearts.
Which side of the line are you on?
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