“…[A]nyone who says, ‘You fool!’ will be in danger of the fire of hell..” 1 John 2:16
Really? Wow. That’s harsh judgment just for calling someone an idiot, don’t you think? Some people deserve to be mocked, put in their place, or deemed off their rocker, don’t you agree?
Out of context Jesus’ words seem to be over the top. However, he’s saying something much more significant, something I need to hear, because way down deep I find it easy to judge others, to criticize, to find fault with them.
Here’s the full text: “You have heard that it was said to the people long ago, ‘You shall not murder, and anyone who murders will be subject to judgment.’ But I tell you that anyone who is angry with a brother or sister will be subject to judgment. Again, anyone who says to a brother or sister, ‘Raca,’[a term of contempt] is answerable to the court. And anyone who says, ‘You fool!’ will be in danger of the fire of hell."
Why? The best I can figure is that Jesus wants us to value people as he does. He said he came to redeem people, not judge them (John 3:16-17), and reminds us that everyone is made in God’s image, a precious creation of the Father and worthy of respect.
When we criticize, we play God. We sit on our puny little throne and look down at others with pointed finger and declare “I’m better than you, and you need to straighten up, get a life, and be as good as me!” How arrogant we are to see ourselves as so holy that we can judge others.
Are you like me in finding it all too easy to judge and name-call? Can you agree that we too mess up and need to show humility? What do people need besides our critical comments?
Dear God, thank you for your grace toward me, because I don’t measure up any more than people around me. Help me extend grace and patience to them just as I hope you will do towards me. Amen.
Maybe you hammered someone with criticism in a holier-than-thou fashion. Why not talk to them and apologize and admit that you make mistakes too?
Read What Did Jesus Say About…? by Steven M. Miller. This little book considers Jesus’ teachings on a host of topics such as temptation, worry, hypocrisy, forgiving, happiness … and judging others.