2 Kings 17:5-8,13-15,18
The king of Assyria invaded the whole country and, coming to Samaria, laid siege to it for three years. In the ninth year of Hoshea, the king of Assyria captured Samaria and deported the Israelites to Assyria. He settled them in Halah on the Habor, a river of Gozan, and in the cities of the Medes.
This happened because the Israelites had sinned against the Lord their God who had brought them out of the land of Egypt, out of the grip of Pharaoh king of Egypt. They worshipped other gods, they followed the practices of the nations that the Lord had dispossessed for them.
And yet through all the prophets and all the seers, the Lord had given Israel and Judah this warning, ‘Turn from your wicked ways and keep my commandments and my laws in accordance with the entire Law I laid down for your fathers and delivered to them through my servants the prophets.’ But they would not listen, they were more stubborn than their ancestors had been who had no faith in the Lord their God. They despised his laws and the covenant he had made with their ancestors, and the warnings he had given them. They pursued emptiness, and themselves became empty through copying the nations round them although the Lord had ordered them not to act as they did. For this, the Lord was enraged with Israel and thrust them away from him. There was none left but the tribe of Judah only.
Jesus said to his disciples, ‘Do not judge, and you will not be judged; because the judgements you give are the judgements you will get, and the amount you measure out is the amount you will be given. Why do you observe the splinter in your brother’s eye and never notice the plank in your own? How dare you say to your brother, “Let me take the splinter out of your eye,” when all the time there is a plank in your own? Hypocrite! Take the plank out of your own eye first, and then you will see clearly enough to take the splinter out of your brother’s eye.’
“The judgements you give are the judgements you will get…”
Today’s Gospel shows our Lord Jesus warning His disciples against judging others, about how one would be similarly judged as a consequence.
This has always been my struggle; I tend to have (fleeting) judgmental thoughts as I go about my day. Very often, I catch myself judging people and I have to spend some time rationalising myself out of such thoughts. I realise, over years of reflecting on this Gospel passage, that the essence of this teaching is not that we hold back from voicing our thoughts, but that we not have them in the first place.
In recent months, I have been travelling to Ho Chi Minh City in Vietnam very regularly, and I have now realised that my Father God may have sent me there to learn an important lesson.
Those of us who are familiar with Vietnam will share about the traffic situation there. The vehicles there follow a lax traffic code; anything goes as long as you make sure that others can see you doing it. I remember a particular day when I took a ride on a motorcycle as a pillion rider. That fateful day, I remember riding against traffic, mounting curbs along the way and travelling against the direction of one-way streets. It was terrifying. Interestingly though, while there was gentle chiding by passersby, no one got really upset nor angry, despite the less-than-responsible actions of my rider.
Over my time in Vietnam, I have never seen a traffic situation where people get angry. When speaking with a Vietnamese friend, he explained that people don’t get angry because they are always expecting the others to do the unexpected, often riding slowly so as to be prepared to take defensive measures. Their attitude is that they can always take actions to avoid any potential accident. Even if such incidents were to take place, the people just move on unaffected.
As Christians, we should take the same attitude; rather than looking for and being critical about any infringements by others, we should instead work on ourselves and prepare ourselves for any potential challenges in our Christian journey.
(Today’s Oxygen by Paul Wee)
Prayer: We pray that in our faith journey, we will learn to be inward-looking when it comes to our failings. May we learn not to be on the lookout for weaknesses in others, choosing to understand that everyone has their own backstory in every situation.
Thanksgiving: We give thanks for Your teaching us to not judge others, Lord Jesus. We praise and thank You for also showing us how to do this in our lives.