“Judge not, unless you want to be judged”. I know that there are times we must judge the actions of others that are reprehensible, criminal, etc. Imagine a society where there were no courts or justice. And I know that in the church Paul talks about the necessity of passing judgment on immoral behavior. But it seems to me that when Christ spoke these words (don’t judge) He was not referring to our duty as jurors in a civil society or in cases of flagrant impropriety, but instead He was talking about our dirty little habit of trying to determine the intentions, motives, and “evil” desires of one that offended us. It’s so easy to assume the worst about someone you don’t like or are angry with and always be on look for “hidden” innuendos. In fact, for some I suppose it can even be entertaining and self-serving to assume that they are the center of attention — even if the attention has ill intentions.
Christ’s point is that only God can see the heart — so don’t go there! Do not assume you know what “so and so" really meant; instead believe the best about them. Yes, it might mean that at times you’re taken advantage of or used or cruelly manipulated. But God is able and willing to sort through that and lift you up if you determine to believe and hope for the best in individuals.
I am in no place to determine the “why” or the purpose/intention of what people say and do, but I am quite able to judge my own intentions and purposes. If I am following Him, my intention is for God’s Kingdom on earth and for me to learn from His Son humility, servanthood, and allowing myself to be misunderstood and even abused for His sake.
“Love is patient, love is kind. It does not envy, it does not boast, it is not proud. It does not dishonor others, it is not self-seeking, it is not easily angered, it keeps no record of wrongs. Love does not delight in evil but rejoices with the truth. It always protects, always trusts, always hopes, always perseveres.”
Imagine a family, a church, a village, or a nation that lived in love. May it begin in me and at The Vineyard right now.