Prepare to Listen. Blessed are the merciful, for they will receive mercy.
Prayerfully Read Matthew 7:1-5
Do not judge, so that you may not be judged. 2For with the judgement you make you will be judged, and the measure you give will be the measure you get. 3Why do you see the speck in your neighbour’s eye, but do not notice the log in your own eye? 4Or how can you say to your neighbour, “Let me take the speck out of your eye”, while the log is in your own eye? 5You hypocrite, first take the log out of your own eye, and then you will see clearly to take the speck out of your neighbour’s eye.
“Jesus’ words Judge not, that you be not judged are well known but much misunderstood,” said John Stott. I was a teenager when a preacher challenged me about judging or criticizing others. What we condemn in another, he said, was the same fault, the same sin we refuse to own in ourselves. I knew he was right. It was a shocking realization and I wish I could say it changed my life and I never judged again. But I keep falling into the sin of judging others, trying to take a speck out of their eye when there’s a giant beam blocking my vision.
We, the church, judge the world based on our decisions about what’s right and wrong, expecting the world to follow our rules, and condemn it when it doesn’t. We forget, as Bonhoeffer observed, it’s “not an approved standard of righteous living that separates a follower of Christ from the unbeliever, but it is Christ who stands between them.” Which means, we must leave judgment and condemnation to Christ because everyone is accountable to him, not us. To force our interpretations of the Word on the world or our neighbor, is, says Bonhoeffer, “to make the living Word of God into a mere idea, and the world would be perfectly justified in refusing to listen to an idea for which it has no use.”
This doesn’t mean Christians should ignore public morality and wrong doing. Jesus taught us to refuse to judge or criticize another until we’ve taken a long look at ourselves and owned up to our own sins and weaknesses. It would revolutionize society if we did.
What caught your attention today in these verses?
Respond in Prayer
Lord, forgive me when I’ve been so quick to judge my neighbor and so slow to see my own sin. May I be swift to examine my heart, slow to criticize another and quick to show mercy. Amen.
Live Obediently. Be merciful not judgmental.
 Stott, John R. W. Christian Counter Culture: The Message of the Sermon on the Mount. Downers Grove, IL: InterVarsity Press. 1978, p. 175.
 Bonhoeffer, Dietrich. The Cost of Discipleship. New York, NY: The Macmillan Company. 1978, p. 163.  Ibid, p. 166.
Despite having frequently read and taught Matthew's Gospel, preparing these daily devotions, taking that second gaze, has surprised me with newness.