“Do not judge that you may not be judged. “
The asking, which is at the heart of prayer, is also at the heart of our relationship with others. The opposite of asking is demanding and expressing disappointment, disapproval, and condemnation when others do not conform to our will. Jesus forbids condemnation or “judging” just prior to his teaching on “asking” or petition. When we judge others, we convey to them that they are somehow bad, even irredeemable, and certainly unacceptable. It is very difficult to do without falling into anger and contempt and without striking a piercing blow into the soul and self of the one we are unhappy with. Anger, already set aside earlier in the sermon (see Matthew 5:21-22), leads to condemnation, which is such a powerful way to hurt someone. Condemnation eases the way to anger, because the one we condemn deserves to suffer and is no longer worthy of our respect. These behaviors stifle our participation in Christ’s Kingdom and undermine our connection to God in prayer and to others.
Gracious God, How easy it is to judge and condemn! How quickly harsh and unequivocal words come to my mouth. How easily condemnation can produce shame as others condemn themselves. Renew my practice and my speech. Enable my self-control. Let me avoid condemnation in my family, workplace, and church. Amen.