First Reading: Ezekiel 18:25-28

The Judgment of the Righteous

The word of the Lord came to the prophet Ezekiel:

25 Yet you say, The way of the Lord is not equal. Hear now, house of Israel: Is my way not equal? Aren't your ways unequal? 26 When the righteous man turns away from his righteousness, and commits iniquity, and dies therein; in his iniquity that he has done shall he die. 27 Again, when the wicked man turns away from his wickedness that he has committed, and does that which is lawful and right, he shall save his soul alive. 28 Because he considers, and turns away from all his transgressions that he has committed, he shall surely live, he shall not die.

World English Bible

Why is it easy to judge others harshly?

Good people can be tempted in three ways. First, based upon their high moral standards, they assume they can judge others. Second, their own sins can be easily ignored. In light of the first two, people can make presumptions on God's judgment.

When good people begin to compare their upright living against the sinners, they imagine themselves as the standard of morality. Such a comparison is itself sinful, full of pride as it is. It places the people making the judgment on God's throne. They easily forget God is the judge. He is the standard of morality.

When people are self-assured, they might be tempted to moral delusion. "Life is good," they might imagine, "I am moral; my sins are excusable." Even great sinners can delude themselves into thinking they are morally right, with a few "minor quirks."

When people become the standard of morality and dust away their own indiscretions, they can imagine they truly live with God's favor. Of course, this is just as much an illusion as the other two presumptions.

When a leader believes such a lie, an entire population can follow suit. And the consequences can be disastrous. Such was the warning Ezekiel gave the king and the nation. Both had deluded themselves into thinking God would save them, because, despite their sins, they were his "chosen." But, both were swept away by the Babylonians. Sitting in exile outside Babylon (ca. sixth century B.C.), the prophet reflected on the arrogance of the leaders and the people. God didn't think the same way people did.

And he still doesn't.

How can we easily judge others or excuse our own sinfulness? How does God's thinking differ from ours?