JUDGING HAS A HABIT OF BACKFIRING
“Don’t pick on people, jump on their failures, criticize their faults – unless, of course, you want the same treatment. That critical spirit has a way of boomeranging.” Matthew 7:1,2 (The Message).
The story of the woman who broke her alabaster box of perfume over Jesus’ feet, is well-known. Jesus’ host at a dinner party was a Pharisee. When we read the story (in Luke 30ff), it is easy for us to be on Jesus’ side and on the side of the woman He was defending. We don’t like the Pharisees because Pharisees were Jesus’ enemies, and we feel good about despising him because he was in the wrong. After all, didn’t Jesus expose his hypocrisy? He was judging Jesus and the woman against himself and coming out clean, so he thought.
But what is the background to the story? Jesus was invited to a meal with a Pharisee. In Hebrew culture, to eat with someone meant that you had settled your issues and put the past behind you. You were reconciled. Did the Pharisee have issues with Jesus? It seems not until the entrance of the woman. He was eating with Jesus, no problems, reconciled, if nothing happened to trigger what was still inside him.
He was pretending that all was well between him and Jesus until the prostitute gate-crashed the party and had the audacity to touch Jesus, supposedly making Him unclean. His reaction? “Jesus is supposed to be a prophet, but He must be a fake because He should know who this woman is.” What was on his face must have given him away. In his thoughts he was judging both Jesus and the woman, Jesus for pretending to be a prophet and the woman for being a sinner.
Strange how we expose ourselves! Jesus warned that when we judge others, we set up the standard for Him to judge us. The Pharisee set himself up as the standard and found both Jesus and the woman guilty because they didn’t measure up to him. He knew who the woman was, and Jesus didn’t so he was better than Jesus. He wasn’t doing what the woman was doing so he was better than her. He felt justified and comfortable with himself until Jesus spoke.
He started by telling him a little story. “Two men owed a banker money, one a small amount and one a large amount. The banker forgave them both their debt. Who would be more grateful?” Of course, Simon had to answer, “The one who was forgiven most.”
“Exactly,” said Jesus. Then He pointed out that Simon’s lack of courtesy to Him as his guest showed how little he understood what Jesus had done for him. The woman had done everything for Jesus that Simon should have done because she knew how much she had been forgiven. Simon had no idea how big his debt was because he was too busy judging the woman. His attitude had exposed his own heart.
Jesus says, “Be careful how you judge because you will be shown up.”