THE GOSPELS 55
At the beginning of chapter 7, Jesus says, “Judge not, that you be not judged”. We live in a physical world which is self-centered and oriented to our animal desires and nature. As a result, we judge and evaluate the world about us in terms of our personal standards. We judge all music by that which we enjoy, all food by that which we like, all dress and behavior by our taste and concept of what is proper. Other drivers are evaluated by the way we drive and whether they interfere with our progress or not.
At the close of chapter 6, Jesus said, “Seek ye first the Kingdom of God and His righteousness”. As religious people, we are especially prone to judge all others by our own piety and concepts of truth and right. A serious study of this statement of Jesus would greatly alter such a judgmental attitude toward the rest of the world. The ones who are in “His Kingdom” are not those who have performed some rituals (even baptism), nor those who belong to the right “church”. They are those who make Him the Lord of their lives, and His will the standard by which they live. Only those who accept Him as King are members of His Kingdom. This is not where or how often you go to church, but rather the standard by which you live your life every day.
I have stressed this because a realization of the profound import of these words will cause every one of us to bow our head in penitent realization that we do not always live as citizens in His Kingdom, and that we stand in constant need of His mercy and forgiveness. His righteousness is absolute in the demands of how we live and how we treat our fellowman. Responsibility for ourselves and for others, integrity and honesty, humility and self-sacrifice are just a few of the demands on those who wish to seek His righteousness. None of us really fulfills such demands in every part of our life.
This is why Jesus gave us two reasons for not passing judgement on others. First, because God will use the same standards we use to judge us, and that should cause the most critical one to stop and think. Secondly, Jesus emphasized the obvious need all of us have to clean up our own life, with its failures and sins, ere we undertake to make judgements about our fellowman. There is an old saying that fits well right here: “People who live in glass houses, shouldn’t throw stones”.
If I am to seek His Kingdom, then, I must strive to make His will the deciding factor in every decision that I make and every action that I take. If He is to be my King, then, His will must rule my life. If I am to seek His righteousness, then, I must endeavor to make my life and actions conform to His Spirit and His nature. This includes my attitudes toward my fellowman, all of whom are loved by Him. With His righteousness as my standard, I must live a life disciplined to set aside my own desires and walk with Him along the way. Such a life leaves no time for examining and judging others.