Matthew 7:1 (“Judge not!”) is one of the most often quoted verses by people who aren’t Christian. Also, that whole last sentence is a trope used by pastors and Christian bloggers alike. Accurate perhaps, but trope nonetheless.
Thankfully for those who have heard enough of Matthew 7:1, I don’t want to talk about it; not today at least. I would much rather talk about the next verse, Matthew 7:2. Matthew, the author, is quoting Jesus and encouraging the church in how they ought to exercise judgement. Verse one is not a blanket statement about all judging in all circumstances for all time, it has to be read in its context and in light of the rest of the passage. Immediately after he says “not to judge” he explains to us how to judge. If he was trying to convince people not to do something at all, this is perhaps the worst way to do that. “Don’t do this thing! Here’s how to do the thing correctly!” That’s just foolish.
What’s Your Measure?
Matthew talks about “the measure you use” being “measured to you.” Without getting into too much of a sermon here, I’ll just say that since in the first century there was no such thing as government regulated measurement standards when you were at a market buying an omer of flour, for instance, the measure that the vendor used to calculate an omer might be different than the measure you had used to calculate payment. They didn’t have Mettler-Toledo Canada telling them what a Kilogram was. What would happen, then, was that the vendor and the buyer would agree on who’s measure they’d use for the whole transaction. Simple, fair. Matthew’s point is the same: When you exercise judgement, expend Grace and mercy, because that is the judgement that will be used on you. Essentially, the measure God will use when you are judged by Him is the same measure you used to judge others. In a sense, God uses your standard. That’s really intimidating, but is doesn’t have to be.
The Measure of Grace.
You judge people, you judge people every day. We all do. We judge other drivers on the road, other parents in the playground, our colleagues at work; we judge the barista who just “can’t get my order right!” and they judge the customer who “doesn’t know how to order!” We all do it, Matthew’s point, put in its simplest terms, is that when we judge, we ought to do it in the same way that we want to be judged, because the measure we use, is the same measure that will be used on our lives. Fair isn’t it?
So Matthew calls us to use the measure of grace. Give people the undeserved benefit of the doubt. Judge with grace, that driver probably wasn’t trying to cut you off, maybe they just didn’t see you there; that parent on their phone might be texting a relative about their sick parent; your co-workers might be having a bad day, or be struggling at home; maybe the barista didn’t hear you correctly, maybe you really are ordering incorrectly. At the end of the day, I endeavour to judge with grace and mercy, because, God is a far more perfect judge, and when I am judged, I want Him to use the measure of grace on me.