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Judge Not

Weekly Devotionals

Judge Not

Matthew 7: 1-2 (King James Version)

Judge not, that ye be not judged. For with what judgment ye judge, ye shall be judged.

This past summer our family visited Virginia, our home in the United States. We always took it for granted that we grew up in the suburbs of Washington D.C. With the kids getting older, we are starting to appreciate our nation’s capital a lot more. One afternoon we went to my favorite monument, the Lincoln Memorial, and I tried to explain to my firstborn what the civil war was about.

On one side of the monument are inscribed the words from Lincoln’s second inaugural address, given after four years of bloody war that divided the nation. In it, he quotes from Matthew 7.

“Both read the same Bible and pray to the same God, and each invokes His aid against the other. It may seem strange that any men should dare to ask a just God’s assistance in wringing their bread from the sweat of other men’s faces, but let us judge not, that we
be not judged.”

It’s remarkable that Lincoln had the wisdom to place North and South under the same God, pushing for reconciliation and forgiveness from both sides.

Although not an armed conflict, America is in the midst of a culture war. Not only is the divide between liberals and conservatives but also between Christians who pray to the same God. Two people who have access to the same facts and same case will interpret them completely differently. The chasm is growing to the point of enmity not just between viewpoints but between identities.

Lincoln’s words are just as prophetic today as they were 150 years ago. It seems so strange that each side invokes the help of God to defeat the other. Christians need to lead by example and find ways to help heal a divided nation. There’s no secret formula for the long road ahead but it starts with judge not. Only when we judge not can we listen, empathize, and see the image of God in those around us.

Most of us probably don’t think we’re judgmental people. But try to go a day without having any bias or stereotyping anyone. We literally wear our affiliations on our sleeves, by the clothes we wear, what we eat, where we live, and what and how we worship. Jesus angered both sides and was notorious for eating with those who were too unholy and also those who were too religious. He never judged although he had every right to. He always treated people like individuals, made in the image of his Father. We could all use a little less judging in today’s world.