Do not judge, or you will be judged.Matt 7:1
It is almost impossible not to judge. When man became conscious, one of the features necessary was to distinguish between self and others. We became dualistic and started to discriminate things.
This is deeply engrained in what sets us apart from most of creation. In their proto-consciousness, some animals can discriminate themselves from others, and almost all animals can discriminate food, friend, and foe. But we go much further.
We build categories both fine-grained and abstract, we have language to express this discrimination, and have grown to even talk hypothetically and conceptually about things.
But as it is, in building sets of things, we also built functions to set them in relationship to each other.
Some functions liken elements of one set to some of another for better understanding. Some of those functions are simile and metaphor.
Some functions give value to elements of sets, and some imply an order of value between elements, subsets, and sets. Discrimination by race is such a function that at times has gone terribly awry.
Biblically, this is portrayed in the story of Adam and Eve. Man, when they became conscious, chose to live from the tree of knowledge of good and evil. They chose to discriminate along the lines of good and evil, right and wrong.
There had been an alternative. There was the tree of life. I just realized that God never forbade them to eat from that tree until they had chosen. Not even then he did, they just became blind to it.
Is it possible to gain consciousness based on the tree of life? We could well discriminate things as life-giving or killing.
You might say: where is the difference? For many categorisations, there probably is none. Smoking is wrong, and it kills. But there are tons of categories where it is not so clear cut.
Jesus demonstrated this. He made the law more cutting when he announced that even thinking of adultery is sin. It is wrong to commit adultery, but it kills to think of it. It kills joy in the relationship you are in, it kills your satisfaction with what you have, it kills those wonderful thoughts you could have during the time you are obsessed with that person.
He on the other side changes the way we think about the law regarding Sabbath. Sabbath is to bring life, and everything life-giving can be done on Sabbath.
Today’s scripture goes on to say:
For in the same way you judge others, you will be judged, and with the measure you use, it will be measured to you.Matt 7:2
If you judge others from a perspective of good and evil, the judgement you will be measured by is – good and evil. In this judgement, sin has power, because there is a law, and it will bring death.
In the system of life, there is no law, there is love. If you judge from this perspective, you will earn love. For those that now think that I am getting rid of the law: love encompasses the law. As the law is written on our hearts, we know how to and want to live out its spirit, not its letter.
To judge in German means richten. It comes from to set right, straight. It has taken on the meaning of bringing order, and therefore expresses another slant of judging than the word judge, which comes from jus dicere, which means to speak the law.
In Greek, the word krine just means to discriminate.
What now does Jesus mean: is he speaking from a Greek, German or English viewpoint? We know that the author of Matthew wrote in Greek and chose the word krine, not judge, not richten.
Jamieson et al. puts it like this: look unfavorably on the character and actions of others, which leads invariably to the pronouncing of rash, unjust, and unlovely judgments upon them.
We could say that we should not form an opinion about people based on their looks, character, or behaviour and place them in respective sets.
In another place, we are told not to favor the rich and offer them front row chairs, while asking the poor to sit on the floor.
But we cannot survive without categorization. We need to discriminate. We cannot even distinguish people from objects without discrimination and it is a basic function of our consciousness.
And we are not asked to not discriminate, but reminded about the framework within we usually do this. We see the others fault, but not our own.
Coming from the tree of knowledge of good and evil, we do not just discriminate, but discriminate and assign value. And we usually do so from our own value system.
This also has big implications: people that share our value system are put into one set, and that set is of greater intrinsic value than the rest. To put it bluntly: We are right! Which means, that everybody else is wrong. This evaluates easily to: we are good, and they are evil.
This will govern our approach towards people we discriminated as belonging to another tribe: we want to set them straight according to the set of values, the law that is governing us.
We want them to become members of our tribe first, then help them. Or as we would put it, we want to help them profoundly by having them become a member of our tribe first, to become like us, to believe truth, and have the right set of values. Then, we will love on them more. But that first step of love is crucial for any further help.
Of course, we never admit that we are that rigid. We will help them for a while, because changing to the right worldview takes some time. And then we ask: how many times do I have to forgive? How much time do I have to invest? One month, half a year, a year, Lord?
How different is the view from the tree of life. Who cares about their condition. Just love on them and let them participate in your life. God’s love will win. It will not win them over to your tribe necessarily, but to God, into an individual relationship with the source of love and life.