SCRIPTURE: Matthew 7:1 (CEB) – larger reading Matthew 7:1-14
“Don't judge, so that you won't be judged.”
“The Message” way of putting this verse: "Don't pick on people, jump on their failures, criticize their faults - unless, of course, you want the same treatment.
H.A. Ironside tells this story: One of the first gospel illustrations that ever made a real impression upon my young heart was a simple story which I heard a preacher tell when I was less than nine years old.
It was of pioneers who were making their way across one of the central states to a distant place that had been opened up for homesteading. They traveled in covered wagons drawn by oxen, and progress was necessarily slow. One day they were horrified to note a long line of smoke in the west, stretching for miles across the prairie, and soon it was evident that the dried grass was burning fiercely and coming toward them rapidly. They had crossed a river the day before but it would be impossible to go back to that before the flames would be upon them. One man only seemed to have understanding as to what could be done. He gave the command to set fire to the grass behind them. Then when a space was burned over, the whole company moved back upon it.
As the flames roared on toward them from the west, a little girl cried out in terror, "Are you sure we shall not all be burned up?" The leader replied, "My child, the flames cannot reach us here, for we are standing where the fire has been!"
What a picture of the believer, who is safe in Christ!
"On Him Almighty vengeance fell, Which would have sunk a world to hell. He bore it for a chosen race, And thus becomes our Hiding Place."
The fires of God's judgment burned themselves out on Him, and all who are in Christ are safe forever, for they are now standing where the fire has been.
How quickly we forget. There but for the grace of God go I! It’s the old child’s way of illustrating our bent of pointing a finger of judgment towards others … there are three pointing back at us. How quickly we forget.
We are good, experts actually, at passing judgment on others. Oh, we won’t necessarily call it judgment. It is that moral self-righteous attitude that somehow we are better than others, but we won’t admit to that either.
We like to point out that the emperor doesn’t have any clothing on while standing there ourselves totally and completely naked. How quickly we forget that we in some fashion have stood where others stand … there but for the grace of God.
Casting the first stone comes easy of us. It makes us feel better… or does it? We feel that we stand taller if we stand on the shoulders of others… putting them down… judging their sin… comparing our life to theirs. How quickly we forget.
Judging others is a privilege that we haven’t earned. No matter how good we might become. No matter how righteous and pious our spiritual walk. No matter how fantastic our faith. We will never arrive at the point that we can pass judgment on others behavior. There but for the grace of God go I.
Our energy would be better spent on tying our own shoes, dusting off our own coat … in other words, working on ourselves. It is the power of positive thinking. If we work on ourselves becoming as righteous as God can make us we begin to see others differently… through the eyes of Jesus who saw others with love, mercy and grace. He fully knew what was buried deep in side the hearts and minds of people. He knew that if he lifted them up instead of tearing them down they could become what God had created them to be.
If we remember where we once stood and how God’s grace picked us up and dusted us off then we will treat others differently. There but for the grace of God …
Cause me to remember even if remembering is painful that I stood exactly where others stand. Cause me to remember that the same grace and mercy that changed my heart can change theirs as well. Help me to be an instrument of that grace all for the purpose of winning the more.