February 20

Text: Matthew 7:1, 2

"Do not judge lest you be judged.  For in the way you judge, you will be judged; and by your standard of measure, it will be measured to you”. (NASB)

You are in a group and no one is talking.  After a few moments of awkward silence, you decide to start a “jump in” group conversation.  Which of these two things are more likely to generate talk: “What is wrong with our world?” or “What is right with our world?”? 

Probably in western societies a question that focuses on “wrong” is more likely to generate a conversation than a question that focuses on “right.”  Why?  There are a number of reasons involved.  (1) We are more likely to criticize than praise, to find fault than compliment.  Everyone is a critic. We consider it to be constructive criticism—the one who gives the criticism is being constructive, but the one who receives the criticism is offended or discouraged.  (2) Most see what is wrong quickly, and what is right slowly, cautiously.  We quickly can believe something is wrong, but we doubt that something appearing to be good is actually good.  Thus the expression, “That is too good to be true!”  (3) It is okay to be wrong about being wrong—that error is soon forgotten.  However, it is terrible to be deceived about something being right or good—an error long remembered by others.  (4) We note when our lives are impacted by errors.  We should never be victims—“We do not deserve that!”  However we deserve all the good that comes our way—“We are good people!”  Wrong is undeserved; good is deserved.

Perhaps this is a way to say that it is easier to be negative than positive.  The righteous person chooses to encourage, not discourage.  The issue is not what you were, but what you can be.  Religiously, knowledge should NOT focus on others’ mistakes (their errors do not make me good), but on the “knower’s” life and behavior.  Righteous people understand criticism invites criticism.  They never forget God extended them mercy, not condemnation.  They are dedicated to mercy, not justice.

Suggestion for reflection: Do you value being right over being helpful?  (Read Romans 14:10-12.)

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