“Did God Really Say...Don’t JUDGE”?
One of the most (misquoted) scriptural statements we hear today is, “The Bible says NOT to judge.” Really. Like so many cliches we hear today, it’s taken completely out of context to fit an AGENDA. Did you know the words judge, judges, judging and judgment are found over 400 times in scripture?
QUESTION - Don’t we make several judgments daily? Selecting fresh fruit or vegetables at the market, when a phone scammer calls seeking vital information, when someone attempts to sell us “desert land” in the swamps of Mingo conservation area, when a pedophile wants to take care of our children, when we are voting for a political candidate? Can you actually vote without judging? We have courts and judges and when we serve on a jury, we’re commanded to make a judgement. At the end of life, we’re going to be judged by God.
When we hear that statement (don’t judge) from individuals or people groups, we can drill down and “often” find two basic reasons: (1) they are often exhibiting BEHAVIOR in which the Bible identifies as sin and they want to cover themselves. (2) We live in a post-modern era and the age of moral relativism (no such thing as right or wrong; no absolute truth) that rejects the Bible as the foundation of truth. “Every man did that which was right in his/her own eyes” (Judges 17:6).
Jesus is NOT teaching that we abandon our mind or reasoning ability in discerning the behavior of others. He is NOT giving a blanket statement that justifies all behavior.
WHAT did the BIBLE really SAY? Jesus said, “Do not judge others, and you will not be judged. For you will be treated (judged) as you treated (judged) others.” The STANDARD you use in judging is the STANDARD by which you will be judged. "And why worry about a speck in your friend's eye when you have a log in your own? How can you think of saying to your friend, 'Let me help you get rid of that speck in your eye,' when you can't see past the log in your own eye? Hypocrite! First get rid of the log in your own eye; then you will see well enough to deal with the speck in your friend's eye.” (Matthew 7:1-5)
He is warning us to be CAREFUL HOW we judge, for this is how we will be judged by others. The original language in this passage says, do not be CONTINUALLY JUDGING. The Pharisees and Sadducees were constantly (focusing on) judging others. They had approximately 600 commandments or laws they initiated. That’s quite a stretch from the original ten commandments. If we have a “continual judging” spirit or attitude, we’re like a Pharisee or Sadducee, the opposite of Jesus, who majored in love.
“If You Judge People You Have No Time to Love Them.” Mother Teresa
WHAT does the BIBLE really MEAN? In general, we’re not to have a critical spirit towards others. The Bible tells us to make judgements based on (TRUTH) from the Bible, not our OPINIONS or the latest episode of political correctness. We are to exercise judgement humbly and carefully and use the objectiveness of the word, instead of the subjectiveness of our opinions. Consider the example of the ten Commandments. Is it wrong to have other gods before HIM, to steal, to lie, to commit adultery, to honor our parents, to kill?
In the same chapter (Matthew 7) Jesus said we are to judge between REAL and FALSE prophets. Identifying WOLVES from SHEEP and stated that we could do so by judging their fruit (GOOD OR BAD). A peach tree doesn’t bear apples and an apple tree doesn’t produce pears.
Jesus said, (Matthew 7:15 -20) “Beware of false prophets who come disguised as harmless sheep but are really vicious wolves. You can identify them by their FRUIT, or their actions. Can you pick grapes from thornbushes, or figs from thistles? A GOOD TREE produces good fruit, and a BAD TREE produces bad fruit. A good tree can't produce bad fruit, and a bad tree can't produce good fruit. So, every tree that does not produce good fruit is chopped down and thrown into the fire. Yes, just as you can identify a tree by its fruit, so you can IDENTIFY people by their actions.”
What we can learn from the passage in Matthew 7:1-5 can be stated in three ways.
ONE – don’t be a HABITUAL fault-finder. Don’t have a critical spirit. Quit looking continually for the bad in others. Do you enjoy being around someone who is continually criticizing others? If we’re continually critical of others, that same standard of continual criticism will come back to us (sowing and reaping). As one minister friend said to the congregation he served, “Look for ways to love others and win the lost, instead of focusing on telling each other how to live. “
TWO – Don’t judge HYPOCRITICALLY. We’re to judge ourself, before we can judge others. He used a carpenter’s term, why worry about a SPECK in someone’s eye, when we have a LOG in our own eye. Translated it means, we can’t see clearly until we first deal with our own challenges. After self-examination, we’re in a better position to see clearly. Looking in the MIRROR would eliminate most petty judgement that “separates” so many in families, neighborhoods, churches, communities and our society today.
There’s a tremendous difference between TRUTH and OPINIONS. It’s okay and normal for us to have different opinions on a variety of subjects, but truth is the foundation that separates a society from a chaos. When confronted with truth, we can accept or reject truth, but our OPINION DOESN’T CHANGE TRUTH. The opinion that the Holocaust never happened doesn’t change the truth of that historical fact. Knowledge is constantly changing, but truth is not. Truth was the same in my grandparent’s generation as it is my grandson’s generation.
We Can Accept or Reject Truth, but Our Opinion Doesn’t Change Truth
THREE – to have a RIGHTEOUS judgment not based on external appearance (John 7:24). We can see fruit and behavior. However, it’s above our pay-grade to know a person’s internal motives (Hebrews 4:12). That’s why God is the only true righteous judge. Have you (like me) met someone and make an initial “superficial” judgment that later proved to be wrong? Have you ever had someone who judged you and didn’t have “all” the information or both sides of the news/story? Certainly. That’s why Jesus spoke against a judgmental spirit or attitude.
Today in the secular theater of society one of major issue revolves around sexuality (LGBT / Same Sex Marriage). Anything short of renouncing Biblical Christian teaching on sexual BEHAVIOR is akin to hate in our era of political correctness. Labeling individuals as haters, or bigots is a disguise to silence discussion. Are we haters or bigots if we believe that pre-marital sex, adultery, same sex marriage, and incest is sin? The root issue could be summarized in that many do not want the Bible to be truth or the moral compass of right and wrong.
Are You a Hater if You Believe Marriage is Between a Man and Woman?
No major religion (Christianity, Islam, Judaism, Hinduism) condones, let alone embraces and promotes homosexuality/ same sex marriage as NORMAL. Are all people of faith haters or bigots? No. I have some friends who are gay. Do I still love and respect them? Yes. Do I embrace or condone that lifestyle? No. Are we still friends? Yes.
HOW DO WE RESPOND? We’re to LOVE God and LOVE people, which is the greatest commandment that Jesus gave. Responding to hate with hate, changes nothing, except possibly making it worse. Speaking the truth in love and grace is what Jesus modeled for us. Does this mean there is no “basis” for right and wrong? No. We ask the Holy Spirit to help us live our life in a way that is pleasing to the Lord in very challenging times in our country. As scripture says about Ruth - for such a time as this (Esther 4:14). We’ll continue this thought in our next blog (Part #2) that focuses on TOLERANCE and how it relates to judging.
The good news is - God is our ultimate judge and HE sent His Son, Jesus, to be our savior. Why? Because we’re all guilty. We all need to repent (change how we think) and seek HIS mercy and grace. Jesus said, “You will know the truth and the truth will set you free” (John 8:32).
I’m reminded of a story of a teenager driving recklessly one day and came around a corner too fast and saw an elderly man in the street. He hit his brakes and skidded, while feeling the thud of the vehicle hitting the man. The elderly man was shaken up and had some minor scratches, but no injuries. The teen said – please forgive me. The older man gave the young man a stern warning about reckless driving and how people are killed. The teen slowed down, but within a month was driving recklessly again. This time he came around a corner in a subdivision and a child was in street. He hit his brakes, but it was too late. He jumped out of the car – blood everywhere. The child was dead. The teen was arrested and charged with reckless driving. As they led him into the courtroom in handcuffs he recognized the judge. The judge was the same elderly man he had hit with his car a month prior. The young man’s attitude became more positive. I know him. Judge, do you remember me? Yes, I do remember you. One month ago, I was your savior, but TODAY, I’m your JUDGE